$25 million loan awarded to State College water authority for new treatment plant

The State College Borough Water Authority received a Pennvest loan for $24.95 million to fund a new water treatment facility and upgrades.
The State College Borough Water Authority received a Pennvest loan for $24.95 million to fund a new water treatment facility and upgrades. Centre Daily Times, file

State College Borough Water Authority received a $24.95 million Pennvest loan Wednesday to facilitate the construction of a new water treatment facility.

“We’re taking a look at our treatment processes for treating the water to meet drinking water standards and we felt that the wellfields we use ... while they meet current standards, we could be doing better,” said SCBWA Executive Director Brian Heiser.

The low-interest Pennvest loan will go toward the $25 million project to construct a new membrane filter water treatment plant and upgrade equipment in two “high-quality, reliable source” wells, said Heiser.

The authority serves more than 14,000 customers in the Centre Region, according to a press release from the office of state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township.

“This low-interest loan is great news for State College,” Conklin said in the release. “It will allow the borough to make a necessary improvement to infrastructure that’s vital to residents.”

Heiser said SCBWA has been working on this project since roughly 2014. It has taken several years because of design components and permitting requirements through the state Department of Environmental Protection and Centre Region governments.

“Anticipating future drinking water standards, (the upgrade) was the best move to make for our customers and the authority as a whole,” Heiser said. “It’s going to provide us additional backup to some of our other facilities.”

All water the SCBWA uses comes from wells and is primarily groundwater, he said. A new water treatment plant will help the authority increase its efficiency by acting as a back-up for the existing plant, he said.

Heiser said he expects construction of the new facility to begin February 2020, taking anywhere from 18 months to two years to complete. For customers of the SCBWA, “everything will proceed as usual” during that time.

The rest of the cost of the project — $50,000 — will be provided through a West Penn Power energy grant, he said.

“(This project) will allow us to continue to provide high quality drinking water and it will provide us redundancy, and help position us for the future of the Centre Region,” he said.

Sarah Paez covers Centre County communities, government and town and gown relations for the Centre Daily Times. She studied English and Spanish at Cornell University and grew up outside of Washington, D.C.