Water, at the rate of more than 3.5 million gallons per week soon will begin flowing from Johnstown to Ligonier.
The transmission will be possible because of the completion of a $10 million project that links the Greater Johnstown Water Authority and Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County systems. A million-gallon storage tank, four pressure regulating stations, one pump station and 16 miles of pipe will send the water up and down Laurel Mountain.
Westmoreland County customers are expected to start receiving the water on Dec. 1.
“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 on Thursday. “They were willing to go together with us on this project.”
Approximately 1,500 customers will be served initially.
Water also could be delivered to other parts of Fayette, Westmoreland, Cambria and Somerset counties.
“It will expand out, like tentacles,” said Cernic.
The cost, financed by Pennsylvania Infrastructure and Investment Authority loans, was divided between the two authorities.
All of the construction work, which took 20 months to complete, was done in-house.
“It’s really a wonderful example of municipal cooperation,” said Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas. “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.”
Cambria County Commissioner Tom Chernisky concurred. “Both water authorities have done a great job working together. It shows you can have partnerships between organizations to make good things come together,” he said.
The Westmoreland authority will be required to purchase a minimum of 520,000 gallons a day, at a cost of $1.22 per thousand gallons, over the next 20 years. Westmoreland’s authority could buy up to an additional 3 million gallons per day.
“I think it’s going to be advantageous down the road many years from now,” said Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County Chairman Jerome DeFabo Sr. “People will look back at this project and be happy that we have water for industry, for business, for whatever. Outside of the project, there was a lot of negativity as far as the common customer was concerned because they wondered if you’re spending this kind of money, who’s going to benefit. They’re going to benefit. Hopefully, 30 or 40 years down the road, there will be a great benefit to the area.”
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