DECATUR TOWNSHIP – Gov. Edward G. Rendell Friday announced the investment of more than $3.4 million to extend municipal water lines and provide clean, safe and reliable water supplies to about 135 homes in Boggs and Decatur townships where wells have been affected by abandoned coal mines.
The majority of the homes are in Decatur Township.
“This project will ensure that these families who have been forced to haul their water or operate treatment systems for many years will now have a safe and adequate supply of drinking water,” Rendell said. “We are working aggressively to address Pennsylvania’s abandoned mine problem, and this project is a terrific example of the results we can achieve.”
The money will pay for engineering and material costs incurred by JR Contracting LLC of McMurray, Washington County, to extend water lines from Pennsylvania American Water Company’s Moshannon well field to residents living along three state roads and three township roads in Clearfield County.
DEP Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty announced the $3,482,229 funding while touring the site Friday with state and local officials.
Besides the installation of 64,800 linear feet of waterline, the project also includes the construction of a 100,000-gallon water storage tank and a booster pump station.
“Water is a precious and finite resource that is an essential need in every home in the commonwealth, yet there remain many Pennsylvanians who don’t have access to safe drinking water due to historic damage from abandoned coal mines,” McGinty said. “Governor Rendell fully recognizes this problem, and is directing financial resources today to help residents of our coal mining communities overcome damage caused by the unregulated mining practices of the past.”
The $3.48 million funding comes from the federal Abandoned Mine Lands Fund, which is supported by a tax on every ton of coal mined by the active coal-mining industry.
Pennsylvania has the largest abandoned mine lands problem in the country, with more than 180,000 acres of unmarked shafts, unstable cliffs and waste piles, water-filled pits and abandoned equipment left over from when mining was largely unregulated prior to 1977.
Congress recently reauthorized a 15-year extension to the federal Abandoned Mine Lands Trust Fund that will deliver over $1 billion to Pennsylvania to reclaim the most dangerous abandoned mine sites.
Under Rendell’s direction, the commonwealth is planning to conduct a series of public outreach meetings to involve state and local elected officials, environmental and watershed groups, businesses, foundations and economic development organizations to explore options for addressing the host of problems faced by Pennsylvania’s former mining communities, and to look at opportunities presented by this historic legislation.
For more information on abandoned mine lands reclamation in Pennsylvania, visit DEP’s Web site, Keyword: “Abandoned Mines.”