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Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell has awarded $16.6 million under Pennsylvania's Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act to help finance the construction of a public water system that will provide safe drinking water to more than 900 homes, businesses and institutions in the Petroleum Valley in northeastern Butler County.
"This is the largest hazardous sites cleanup project ever in Pennsylvania, with the total cost projected upward of $40 million," Governor Rendell said. "It is an investment in the health of the people who live here. We are committed to making sure the residents of this valley will never again have concerns about the safety of the water coming out of their taps."
The hazardous sites cleanup program has been providing bottled water to residents without charge since March 2002 after it was discovered that their water wells were contaminated. The well contamination was linked to the historic dumping of industrial waste at approximately 24 sites in Butler and Armstrong counties.
"A system that provides a reliable source of safe, clean water could have an economic ripple effect," Governor Rendell said. "A public water system will likely increase property value in this region. Home insurance costs potentially could drop since fire protection will be significantly improved through fire hydrants. Residents will be able to buy and sell homes with confidence, knowing that contaminated water will not be an issue. A public water system also could encourage economic development - the potential for new businesses and employers to move into the valley, providing jobs and expanding the tax base."
The water system grant was awarded to the Petroleum Valley Regional Water Authority, which represents every impacted municipality in the Petrolia area. The grant allows the authority to move forward with bidding and construction of the new system. The grant will cover the cost of installing a booster pump station, storage tank and distribution system totaling nearly 30 miles, including a 1,000-foot crossing under the Allegheny River. The construction phase is expected to last 12 to 15 months.