The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 13, 2012

A water link and much more

Laurel hookup fosters community initiatives


The Tribune-Democrat

— Probably few people envisioned a waterline tie between Johnstown and Ligonier, communities separated by a mammoth mountain and wilderness.

Today, however, officials are talking about future partnerships and shared services now that a $10 million water project has linked the Greater Johns-town Water Authority and Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County systems.

Congratulations are in order for the authorities’ visionaries, people who were willing to sit down, talk, plan and make things happen.

“It’s a win-win situation for both because we have ample water supply, they needed the water,” said Greater Johnstown Water Authority Chairman Edward Cernic Sr. during a dedication ceremony last week.

“They were willing to go together with us on this project.”

Added Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas, “It’s really a wonderful example of municipal cooperation. So often we hear about government and entities not talking to each other. This is a good example of communication for us and working together.”

“In the end, it’s going to provide safe, reliable, affordable drinking water, not only to residential development, but to hopefully spur business development, too.”

 A win-win indeed.

Here are some of the highlights, as provided by our Dave Sutor:

* Water, at the rate of more than 3.5 million gallons per week will begin flowing from Johnstown to Ligonier by Dec. 1.

* Featured are a million-gallon storage tank, four pressure regulating stations, one pump station and 16 miles of 16-inch pipe crossing the Laurel Mountain.

* Initially, 1,500 customers will be served by the line.

The Greater Johnstown authority has been operating with excess water supplies and treatment capacity. Officials also have been trying to boost their revenues and bolster a declining residential customer base – that in addition to suffering over the years the loss of major industrial customers. Down the road, we would expect this project could serve to hold down water-rate costs for current Greater Johnstown customers.

The Johnstown-Ligonier project, two years in the planning stage, was just what the doctor ordered.

Already, there is talk water could be delivered to other parts of Fayette, Westmoreland, Cambria and Somerset counties.

“I think it’s going to be advantageous down the road many years from now,” Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County Chairman Jerome DeFabo Sr. said. “People will look back at this project and be happy that we have water for industry, for business, for whatever.”

Added Cernic: “It will expand out, like tentacles.”

Call the water project regionalization, shared services, agency cooperation, or whatever, the link has brought officials together to brainstorm ideas to better their communities and benefit their residents.

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