Nov 05, 2008

Voters in Pennsylvania Approve Water Bond

State will use $400 million to help meet water standards, curb runoff, reduce pollution and address harmful effects of farm chemicals

Pennsylvania residents voted Nov. 4 to allow the state to borrow $400 million to repair and upgrade water and sewer systems, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The “yes” votes were leading by a ratio of nearly 2 to 1, with 84% of precincts reporting.

The funds would be used to help water plants throughout the state meet federal standards for discharge into the Chesapeake Bay, as well as curb storm water runoff, reduce pollution and address environmental effects of farm chemicals.

Companion legislation that passed the General Assembly this year diverted slot-machine gambling proceeds to repay $800 million in borrowing, and will fund work on water and sewer systems, improve flood control and increase safety at high-hazard dams.

A report released last week puts the price tag for repairs across the state at $36.5 billion over the next 20 years, the AP reported. With operation, maintenance and debt service added, the cost grows to $113.6 billion.

"This is about making sure our streams and rivers are not polluted with raw sewage, about making sure the tap water we rely on is safe," said John Hanger, acting secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

"Unfortunately, right now we have too much raw sewage going into rivers," Hanger said. "In some cases, and I'm only slightly exaggerating, the pipes leak more water than they carry."

Hanger said the $400 million in funding would also provide 12,000 jobs.