Pen Argyl Water: What Can We Learn?

Could this be a wake-up call for local municipalities to look into innovative solutions to their water infrastructure problems? Perhaps.

The Morning Call reports that the federal government stepped in to reduce the water costs for the residents of Pen Argyl after the borough needed to raise fees on its customers by 300%. The borough was forced to upgrade its sewage treatment plant in 2008, an $11 million setback that will now be partially reimbursed by the feds. The borough faced a sewage violation in 2006 that cost $250,000 in fines. Borough Manager Robin Zmoda stated:

A lot of municipalities are going to find out that improving the infrastructure of your municipal sewer systems is very costly. It’s very difficult for municipalities meeting some of the limits the EPA and DEP are putting on us.

I have two comments on this story. First, it provides a local and salient anecdote of the sort of problems that many municipalities across the Commonwealth (and in the Lehigh Valley) will be facing in the coming years. It could provide enough encouragement for the rise of multi-municipal consolidation plans in regard to water resource management.

Second, while it’s great that the borough received help from the government in off-setting costs of the upgrade, it is interesting to note that such grant money seems to only be dispensed for emergency situations. Unfortunately, as it stands, there is little incentive for long-term planning as such efforts are rarely financially rewarded, even though they are much more likely to provide cost savings in the long run. In a sense, aren’t we provided with more incentive to ignore our infrastructure problems?

To learn more about RenewLV’s work on water and wastewater issues in the Lehigh Valley, visit RenewLV’s Regional Water Initiative page.

About Beata Bujalska

Beata Bujalska is the former Campaign Coordinator for Renew Lehigh Valley. She currently lives in Panama, a place that fascinates her due to (among other reasons) its recent development boom.

Posted on August 4, 2010, in Media Coverage, Municipal Government, Public Infrastructure, Urbanism, Water and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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