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20-year deal will bring water from Johnstown to Ligonier

The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County will purchase at least $231,000 of water a year for the next two decades as part of a contract approved yesterday with the Greater Johnstown Water Authority.

The deal is part of an overall project to build a 14-mile pipeline over Laurel Ridge to transport water purchased from Johnstown to the drought-prone Ligonier area.

“This will allow the municipal authority to eliminate a troubled source of water in Ligonier, which is terrible in drought conditions because of its limited supply,” said authority manager Chris Kerr.

The water deal calls for the authority to purchase 522,000 gallons of water each day at a fixed cost for 20 years. The money paid to Johnstown will cover that agency’s debt on a $4.5 million loan it received to pay its portion of the pipeline project.

Construction of the pipeline is expected to start next spring by work crews from the municipal authority who will install about 84,000 feet of pipe.

Plans called for the installation of a new pipeline and for construction of two 1-million-gallon water storage tanks atop Laurel Ridge. Four pressure valves would be situated more than 1,660 feet up the mountain.

The pipeline would at first serve about 1,500 water customers in Ligonier, but could allow for the authority to expand its service throughout the Laurel Ridge corridor in places such as Fairfield.

The authority uses about 400,000 gallons of water a day in Ligonier Borough. It purchased the Ligonier water and sewer system in 2006.

Officials said yesterday that it is still hopeful it will receive up to $1 million in state grants to pay for a portion of the project.

When the authority first proposed the project it said it needed at least half of the pipeline costs to be covered by state and federal grants. When that money dried up, the authority opted to allocate about $3 million for the pipeline project it had previously set aside to make capital improvements to the Ligonier water system.

Construction on the pipeline is expected to take about two years, with water starting to flow over the mountain in the spring of 2013, Kerr said.


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