Monday, November 10, 2008

Pennsylvania votes to borrow $400 million for water, sewers

Environment News Service reports on a shocking new development – a jurisdiction in the United States actually investing in public infrastructure! Read while I revive myself with smelling salts: Pennsylvania voters have approved a $400 million bond issue that will allow the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority to award grants and loans for water treatment systems and pipelines. With 99.6 percent of precincts reporting, the referendum received more than 2.8 million "yes" votes and 1.7 million "no" votes.

Critics of the referendum argued that Pennsylvanians already owe $110 billion in state debt, not including the additional $3 billion passed in the 2008-09 state budget. They are wary of taking on new debt in the current economic climate.

The money will be available for municipally owned drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems in all parts of the state, in communities large and small, urban and rural. The funding will be available to the 183 publicly owned water systems in Pennsylvania that are facing federal mandates to reduce nutrient pollution in the Susquehanna and Potomac river basins and downstream in the Chesapeake Bay.

"Pennsylvanians from different parts of the state and from all party affiliations overwhelmingly chose to create new jobs and make an important down payment on our economic future and the quality of life in our communities," said Governor Edward Rendell.

…."This is part of a larger national problem," Governor Rendell said. "Across the country, we're confronted with a staggering total national infrastructure shortfall of $1.6 trillion. That unmet need affects the quality of not only roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, it also applies to our airports and rail freight lines - important services that businesses rely on to ship their goods and supplies. If we don't act quickly, that deficit will continue to grow and we will see our infrastructure fall further into disrepair.

"And, with our nation's economy slowing, now's the time to make these investments," he said. "These projects will support tens of millions of jobs that are necessary to build these systems and maintain them."….

Farming near Klingerstown, Pennsylvania, shot by Scott Bauer of the Agricultural Research Service

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