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Franklin County to help Quincy seek water grants

December 19, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Franklin County will apply for a $500,000 state grant on behalf of Quincy Township which, if approved, would be used to provide municipal water service in an area where wells are contaminated with a carcinogenic chemical.

The Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved submitting the application to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for its competitive Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. This is a pool of money for which communities can compete outside the normal CDBG allocations to counties and municipalities.

In October 2006, wells in part of the township were found to be contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE), Township Supervisor Bob Gunder said. Twenty-nine wells along Shank Hess, Mentzer Gap and Tomstown roads and in the Lofty Heights development tested positive for TCE ranging from trace amounts to 31 parts per billion, he said.

A handful of wells with concentrations over 25 parts per billion had filtering systems installed at state expense, while other families are using bottled water for cooking and drinking, Gunder said. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources drilled test wells, but the source of the contamination has not been found, he said.

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The township wants to install about four miles of water lines that would be tied into the Washington Township water system, Gunder said. The project will cost approximately $2.8 million, he said.

"This is one that's been dumped in our lap and we have to deal with it," Supervisor Kerry Bumbaugh said of solving the contamination problem.

The project would take care of the entire contaminated area, said Bumbaugh. That includes not just the 29 affected wells, but about 140 families in total, he said.

The township has also applied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a combination of grants and loans which Gunder said could pay for up to 40 percent of the project, although the amount if granted might be less, he said.

The township was unsuccessful in getting money through the federal appropriations process for 2008, the supervisors said.

"We're trying to bite this thing off in chunks," Gunder said of efforts to come up with the money. A bond issue to pay for it is unlikely, he said, because the township has one for its sewer system and another could be financially burdernsome, he said.

Gunder said the township at this point has a verbal agreement with the Washington Township Municipal Authority for the system connection and would buy water in bulk from the authority once the project is completed.

The contamination also is holding up development in that part of the township, Gunder said. A proposed 65-unit housing project is on hold because "we don't want to approve it unless there's public water," he said.

The county has been successful in the past in getting competitive CDBG grants, including one this year for sewer laterals in Letterkenny Township and another for Quincy's sewer system a few years ago, Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said.

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