Considering whether to support Cumbria, Somerset and Kew water repair loans

Johnstown, Pennsylvania – Over the past two decades, Cumbria Somerset Authority developments have provided the reliable water needed to attract job-creating manufacturing companies to the region.

Local groups have built mountain bike trails, created opportunities for paddling on rapids, and have been able to turn Kemahoning Reservoir into a popular summer destination.

But Cumbria and Somerset counties are also being asked to help the authorities through loans of $7,900 per month.

Currently, $95,000 in annual loan contributions are months away from expiring in 2023, and the nearly $2.1 million tunnel repair project faces a new 20-year loan request from CSA. We have commissioners from both counties.

Cumbria Somerset Authority officials met on December 1 to apply for a $500,000 PENNVEST loan for the remainder of the funds needed to rehabilitate a section plagued by pipe problems from the Quemahoning Reservoir. CSA President Jim Greco said.

With support from both counties, the agency was able to secure more than $958,000 in grants for a $2.1 million job. But despite counties pledging about $229,000 in matching funds, and the agency itself tentatively planning to add his $188,000, “probably won’t be enough.” ” said Greco.

You may need a loan there. However, Cumbria and Somerset county commissioners have yet to commit to financing.

In separate interviews, Cumbria County Commissioner BJ Smith and Somerset County Commissioner Colleen Dawson said the board was still discussing what to do about loan requests and lack of funds.

Smith said the commission provided details about the request to Chief Clerk Michael Geleth and Air Traffic Controller Ed Cernic Jr. to get a clearer financial picture of the Cambria County alternative.

“This is something we have to take seriously because whatever we borrow goes to pay off the debt,” Smith said, adding that the county’s goal is to use as little tax as possible to pay off the debt. rice field.

Dawson said the Somerset County Commissioner is also still discussing the matter. However, both commissioners said they also understood the importance of addressing the Faustwell Tunnel section of the Kehammoning Channel.

The 2,300-foot section of pipeline is just part of the Kemahoning Line, which runs from the reservoir in northern Somerset County to the Johnstown area.

But it was the most frequent and costly trouble spot for authorities. This is because the narrow tunnels through which vehicles travel make access and repairs difficult to perform.

Corridor breaks have been repaired 12 times in the last five years, frequently disrupting water service to industrial customers in both counties. Greco describes the fix as a “stoppable fix” that doesn’t address the larger problem.

Officials and the counties have been discussing plans to rehabilitate the line for almost two years.

“It’s only a matter of time before it breaks again,” Greco said.

The intention is to “slipline” a smaller 48 inch plastic pipe inside the existing 66 inch steel pipe. However, the price of the new pipeline has doubled for him since 2019 due to rising material costs.

Greco said officials understood the county was trying to take financial responsibility. But he added that it wasn’t certain.

And with two old PENNVEST loans due to be paid off next year, each county’s payments will be reduced from $84,000 annually to $45,000 with the new loans in the interim, said CSA manager Earl Waddell.

Greco said the December deadline for the PENNVEST application process complicates matters.

“We cannot wait any longer for responses to meet the PennVEST (application) deadline,” he said. “It will take months to submit all these applications together.”

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