MONESSEN — The City of Monessen has received a total of $19,876,400 in a combination of grant and loan funds through the USDA, in order to repair and replace its aging sewer infrastructure, the Mayor announced on Wednesday.
The USDA awarded the funds to the City of Monessen, in order to make necessary repairs on the City’s 120-year old sewer lines.
In 2009, the City of Monessen was placed under a consent decree by the DEP, to make needed repairs and upgrades to the City’s lines in the Grand Boulevard sewer shed as a result of a sewage overflow. The City entered into a Corrective Action Plan with the DEP in 2010 and secured a grant from PENNVEST to eliminate the overflows.
The Corrective Action Plan was revised in 2017 to include repair of the failing sewer lines throughout the City. Such repairs include the current project, which will see the repair and/or replacement of main trunk lines at 12th Street, 9th Street, 6th Street, 3rd Street, and Parente Boulevard. The City has so far failed to make necessary repairs or fulfill the necessary requirements.
In 2017, the City began the process of exploring funding with the USDA, but by late 2019, talks had stalled due to apprehension from some City officials.
In early 2020, Mayor Shorraw, along with City Administrator John Harhai, and representatives from WEC Inc. (City Engineers) approached the USDA to restart talks. Mayor Shorraw says that Harhai and WEC were instrumental in getting the USDA to understand the City’s issues, and to let them know that the City is committed to seeing this project through.
The City will receive two loans with identical terms. Both at $7,595,000, with a 40-year fixed rate of 1.125% — the lowest rate offered. The City also received a non-matching grant for $4,686,000. Unused funds were acquired from other states in order to get the grant amount higher. The Under-Secretary approved the overall project.
The loan, which is necessary to finance such a large project, will be funded by the City’s line-usage fee. The City proposes the fee be raised by at least $11.50 (to be determined) per ratepayer. Each ratepayer would receive this increase because such a project of this scope will affect the entire City if the sewer lines are not repaired in a timely manner. The proposed project will stop the imminent failure of large portions of the City’s system. The funds will be closely monitored by federal oversight, to ensure they are spent properly.
Mayor Shorraw contributes the success of acquiring the funding for this major project, not only to Harhai and WEC; but also, to the advocacy and bi-partisan support received from Senator Bob Casey and Representative Guy Reschenthaler. Mayor Shorraw thanks both of them for their support and is very “glad they both see the need Monessen has in improving its aging infrastructure.”
Mayor Shorraw says of the funding award, that “this funding will go a long way in improving our City’s infrastructure and investing in our future. We will be able to avoid a major collapse by repairing these main lines. We will also satisfy the requirements of the Corrective Action Plan. We appreciate how patient the DEP has been with us.” The Mayor also thanks everyone involved, who has helped to lay the groundwork to acquire this funding and get this project underway. “This is the fourth City administration this has fallen in the lap of, and I am glad we can finally get it done.”, says Shorraw.
The project will take approximately five years to complete and will be done by cast-in-place pipe (CIPP) lining, centrifugal cast concrete pipe (CCCP) liner, and lining or replacing manholes and covers.
A public meeting will be held on Monday, September 14, at 7pm at Monessen City Hall to present the project in full detail.