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WINDBER, Pennsylvania – Windber County officials have now unveiled a $15 million plan to replace 33,000 feet of aging sewer lines.

They just need some help from the government to make this work possible, they said.

The Windber Township Council voted unanimously Tuesday to begin work valued at $15,028,750 and apply for a $10 million grant from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) to cover two-thirds of the cost.

“We hope we get funding for all three of our (target areas), but if not, we can always downgrade … and do less work,” said Council President Rich Rummel.

“But to get the financing, we need a plan for everything,” he said. “It’s no different than applying for a loan to buy a house.”

Rummel said the district hopes to receive a response from PENNVEST on its funding request by the fall.

Over the past year, Windber officials have been exploring options for replacing parts of the community’s sewer system. Working with their engineers from EADS Group, they have identified areas where century-old pipes still remain.

The remaining $5 million for the project would be paid by Windber Borough and wastewater customers, Borough Manager Ron Allison said. Much of that money would come from the borough’s wastewater fund, while customers’ bills would be $15 a month higher.

Three districts are planned for the first construction phase, Allison said.

This includes an area on the southeast side of Windber, at the top of Graham Avenue along Seese Run.

A preliminary map shows that repairs will also be made in Baumgardner Heights and the northern end of the district, including parts of Fourth through Sixth streets.

County officials are already taking steps to get EADS to begin design and construction work – another element that must be covered for the project to be eligible for funding, Rummel said.

The council voted Tuesday to issue a request for proposals to regional financial institutions to ensure money is available up front to cover these engineering costs.

County officials estimated total engineering costs at nearly $800,000.

“We have to pay certain costs up front before work begins,” Allison said.

Officials plan to gradually replace sections of sewer lines in other parts of Windber, using a phased approach to upgrade all of the county’s underground sewer lines.

Allison said projects to capture and direct stormwater flows during heavy rainfall are also being designed and integrated into every phase of the work.

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