MAWC seeks state grants for water, sewer upgrades

Nov. 20—Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County has requested nearly $11 million in grants from the state's covid-relief funds to pay for water and sewer system upgrades.

Authority officials said last week identified five projects from different state programs funded with American Rescue Plan funds.

"They would have gotten done but these projects would have been pushed into future years without the (grant) money," authority business manager Brian Hohman said.

The authority borrowed more than $130 million in 2016 to pay for a series of capital improvement projects throughout the water and sewer systems. About $43 million of those funds remain unspent but allocated to other projects, Hohman said.

Board members said the covid money would push additional projects that have no funding sources to the top of the list of planned upgrades.

Officials asked for more than $3.5 million to replace equipment to remove "grit" such as rags and other forms of solid waste from the sewer treatment plant in New Stanton. Another $1.7 million is being sought to replace a filter press that dries sludge at that plant. Hohman said the filter will reduce cost of removing and replacing wet sludge.

Meanwhile, $3.8 million was requested to upgrade equipment that operates the George R. Sweeney Water Treatment Plant at the Beaver Run Reservoir in Bell. That plant services about half of the authority's 122,000 water customers north of Route 30.

The authority sells water to customer Westmoreland, Allegheny, Armstrong, Fayette and Indiana counties. It also has nearly 30,000 sewer customers.

Hohman said the Sweeney plant upgrade is needed to allow the authority to increase it's water intake at the reservoir from 35 million to 40 million gallons a day.

Two other grants, both for more than $495,000, would pay to line sewer pipes in Hempfield and Ligonier Borough.

Officials said they don't know when or if the grants would be approved.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich by email at rcholodofsky@triblive.com or via Twitter .