Senate Includes Fontana’s Water Line Replacement Language in Revenue Package

Harrisburg – July 27, 2017 – The state Senate today approved a budget revenue package that includes state Sen. Wayne D. Fontana’s legislation that would allow local governments to tap various government funding sources to help citizens fund sewer and water line repairs.

“I am pleased that the Senate amended my proposal into the state Fiscal Code bill,” Fontana said. “Hopefully, this will streamline the path to the governor for enactment.

“My proposal gives communities more options and flexibility to help citizens replace aging sewer laterals and waterlines on their property – ultimately improving the safety and reliability of Pennsylvania’s water systems.

The Senate last month approved Fontana’s legislation (Senate Bills 639 and 656) that would enable municipal governments to tap local and state funding sources to fund repairs to water and sewer lines, especially when there is a threat to public health or safety. The House Local Government Committee approved the bill on June 28. But the measure has not been scheduled for a final House vote. To get the bill to the governor’s desk as quickly as possible, Fontana worked to include the bill in the state’s Fiscal Code legislation, a mandatory component of the annual state budget.

“Amending my legislative language from Senate Bill 656 into the Fiscal Code bill provides another vehicle toward a full House vote on the legislation,” Fontana said. “This funding flexibility is too crucial to our communities for it to senselessly languish in the House. I will do all I can to expedite action on the legislation.”

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a report showing that lead levels in the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority System exceed the federal threshold. Fontana said the problem is worsening across the nation and said communities will need to step up efforts to eradicate the threat of lead in drinking water.

Pittsburgh has over 1,200 miles of lateral sewer pipe, and is one of the largest cities to exceed the federal threshold. Earlier this month, the Allegheny County Council passed an ordinance (takes effect on January 1, 2018) requiring that toddlers be given blood tests to check for lead poisoning.

He said the city has already begun replacing old lead lines, educating the public about the lead content in drinking water and has distributed over 20,000 filters to Pittsburgh homeowners. Endorsed by Mayor Bill Peduto, Fontana’s legislation could provide additional financial sources to expedite the repair/replacement work.

The Senate approved the Fiscal Code (House Bill 453) by a vote of 40 to 10. It now goes to the House for consideration.

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