Thursday, July 21, 2011

PA spending $99M to take a lot of crap out of its water


stormwater infrastructure project in Johnsonburg, PA

PENNVEST, the public body in Pennsylvania that decides which infrastructure projects quality for public grants and loans, has released its latest round of funding selections—twenty seven non-point source, drinking water, and wastewater projects in 20 counties.

Of the $99 million total targeted for water projects, $73 million will be awarded as low-interest loans, while an additional $26 million will be distributed as grants that require no repayment.

A chunk of the money is for projects aimed at keeping crap from washing into brooks and streams that feed the rivers whose waters eventually wind up Chesapeake Bay. The Bay, as we are reminded quite frequently by our environmental friends, is slowly succumbing to an overload of the stuff.

The construction of six manure storage facilities and one manure composing facility at farms in Lancaster County are examples of such prophylactic projects that will receive funding.

Other (more expensive) projects will endeavor to keep the crap in sewer systems from bypassing treatment plants during heavy storms. When it does, it ends up in some of the same books and streams mentioned above.

Still other projects will help existing treatment plants do a better job of removing crap so the water which those facilities discharge to brooks, streams and rivers does little or no damage.

A lot of the spending--but not all---involves crap containment, control and treatment.  It's a nasty job but someone has to do it and Chesapeake Bay's fish and fowl will thank you.

Where the money comes from
(No, not the government. Well, OK, but only technically the government)

The funding has three main sources:

1. Long-term loans (bonding) that you, Mr., Mrs. and Ms. Taxpayer, approved in the voting booth during past elections.  You repay those loans, in installments (plus interest), as part of your Pennsylvania state taxes.

2. Federal grants. Yes, you also paid for them--as part of that portion of your federal taxes that does not go for Medicare, Medicaid, excellent health care for members of Congress, or to underwrite the three wars we’re waging in foreign countries..

3. Repayments of previous PENNVEST funding awards. Yep. Some of this stuff actually gets repaid. But don't get too excited. The lion's share of that is paid by the local governments and sewer authorities that benefitted from the financial aid--and guess where they get their money?

So, thank PENNVEST for sorting through what must have been tons of project applications and deciding which merited the financial help and how much of it will be going their way. But congratulate yourself as well, fellow taxpayer. Without you, government would be, well, ____out of luck. 

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[If you're interested in who got how much and for what, see PENNVEST's news release.
You’ll note that Governor Tom Corbett, who had little or nothing to do with the process, gets to make the announcement. When it’s good news, the governor breaks the story.The next time a gas-drilling rig explodes, you can bet who won't be quoted in the first paragraph**).

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