How the Mountaintop region plans to use $125,000 in funding to improve water quality

With the help of $125,000, the Mountaintop Regional Water Authority will soon be installing new mainline meters to its system.

On Wednesday, State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, R-McElhattan, announced that funding had been secured through a local municipal relief grant offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The Mountaintop Region, consisting of Burnside Township, Snow Shoe Township, Snow Shoe borough and the surrounding area, is no stranger to water problems, but MRWA Chairman Jim Yost said the area’s water quality and infrastructure have come a long way over the past year. The additional funding — once released — will only further the progress made, he said.

“We’re very grateful for any help we get,” Yost said. “We’re trying to make the system better. A year and a half ago, we were in dire straits. Now, we are so much better. The change has just been outstanding.”

Yost said the water authority has proposed to use the funds to install more mainline meters, helping to take care of three water lines.

“We use those meters, so we can identify where leaks show up,” he said. “For example, we have a meter going out toward Moshannon, and we know we have a leak out there. We’ve pinned it down and can tell where it is just by the water flow.”

Using funds to buy equipment like meters makes tracking water flow and finding leaks easier, especially in a system more than 100 miles long.

Once the funds have been released and approved, the water authority hopes to open bids in the spring, Yost said, adding that work cannot be done during the winter.

“Access to safe, clean and reliable drinking water is a necessity that far too many Americans take for granted until service is interrupted,” Borowicz, who did not return requests for comment, said in a release. “I could not be more pleased to confirm that a solution is finally in the works to help address the water crisis that has been impacting thousands of 76th District residents for more than a decade.”

A year and a half ago, Yost said the MRWA system was pumping 300 gallons per minute. Now, he said that number has gone down to about 200 gallons. The water authority is also in the process of installing new meters in buildings that use its line which can be read remotely.

“We’re saving hundreds of thousands of gallons that we don’t have to pump now based upon our findings of leaks,” he said.

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Marley Parish reports on local government for the Centre Daily Times. She grew up in Slippery Rock and graduated from Allegheny College.