Walko: Pa. voters will decide on water, sewer repairs

Walko: Pa. voters will decide on water, sewer repairs

State Rep. Don Walko, D-Allegheny, chairman of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, is reminding residents that when they enter the voting booth Tuesday, they’ll be asked to vote on a statewide referendum that addresses water and sewer infrastructure.

The referendum will ask if the state should borrow $400 million to fund repairs to water and sewer systems across Pennsylvania.

Walko said the funds would be used for grants and low-interest loans for municipalities and public utilities to repair and expand sewer and water systems, improve drinking water and improve storm drainage. The projects would support an estimated 12,000 jobs statewide.

The General Assembly approved the ballot question in July, and if approved, the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, or Pennvest, would administer the program.

“I was proud to help advance the clean water referendum in an effort to keep our drinking water and wastewater infrastructure safe for residents and viable for businesses that want to locate here,” Walko said.

One example of the kind of work the bond issue would fund was announced earlier this week, when Pennvest approved a $5.77 million low-interest state loan to repair 3 miles of Pittsburgh sewer lines. The project is expected to help to clean up local rivers by reducing sewer overflows that result from heavy rains.

More information about the ballot question is available on the Department of Environmental Protection Web site – www.depweb.state.pa.us. The site includes examples of projects that could benefit from approval of the ballot question.