Action on the state level guarantees a promising future for Clarion County with funding now available for Pennsylvania-American Water Company to acquire, interconnect and improve the water systems serving Sligo and Shippenville Boroughs.
Pennsylvania-American will utilize a $9.3 million low interest loan approved by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (Pennvest) to acquire the existing water systems currently serving about 800 residents of the Sligo area and about 700 Shippenville area residents. The plan is to then interconnect these two systems with PAWC's system, thereby improving the quality of water for the area. The funds will allow Pennsylvania-American not only to acquire, interconnect and improve the existing systems, but also to construct a new and expanded water treatment plant along the Clarion River; capable of treating four million gallons of water a day. The new plant is necessary to complete the plans for Sligo and Shippenville and increase the availability of quality public water supplies for other Clarion County communities in the future.
Interest rates on the 20-year loan will be 1.385% for the first five years and 2.763% for the next 15 years.
The entire project is estimated to cost $21 million and is believed to be the largest infrastructure project in Clarion County since Interstate 80 was constructed in the 1970s. Charles W. Johnston, vice president of business development for Pennsylvania-American, confirms that this project cements a strong foundation for bringing more water and greater economic development potential to Clarion County.
"Construction of our new plant is the keystone that will support Sligo, Shippenville and other communities that need good water in order to improve the quality of life for existing residents and attract a more diverse base of commerce," said Johnston. "We've really only scratched the surface in this area."
Already, Farmington and Limestone Townships have requested to purchase water from Pennsylvania-American to serve their proposed distribution systems. Other requests for PAWC service are also pending.
Recent activity in the area includes PAWC's purchases of the Clarion Township General Authority in 1998 and the Strattanville Borough system in 2000. The company secured a total of $6.5 million in Pennvest funding to acquire and improve those systems and extend service to additional households and businesses. Those two projects impacted more than 2500 people.
Acquisition of the Sligo and Shippenville systems are slated for the latter part of 2003, to coincide with completion of the new Clarion water treatment plant. Groundbreaking for that facility is slated for the first quarter of 2002.
Pennsylvania-American credited State Representative Fred McIlhattan and State Senator Mary Jo White with helping to obtain the Pennvest loan. According to McIlhattan, "this project will improve the quality of life for many constituents in Clarion County which have struggled to obtain high quality drinking water supplies for a long time."