September Newsline: PA invests in water; US-Mexico sewage scuffle; heavy equipment theme park opens

September 2010 Vol. 65 No. 9

Pennsylvania invests in 33 county water infrastructure projects
Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell has announced the investment of $129 million in 41 drinking water and wastewater projects serving communities in 33 counties.
Of the $129 million total, $101 million is for low-interest loans and $28 million is offered as grants from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, known as PENNVEST.

The awards range from a $213,000 loan to construct a manure storage facility in Lancaster County that will reduce nutrient runoff into the Chesapeake Bay watershed, to a $13 million loan that will be used to construct water collection and retention facilities to eliminate the overloading of a wastewater treatment plant in Butler County that results in raw sewage running into nearby creeks.

Funds for the projects will be disbursed after bills for work are paid and receipts are submitted to PENNVEST.

For a list of projects funded by county, visit www.pennvest.state.pa.us.

U.S., Mexico argue over sewage spill cleanup
Agencies continue to shirk responsibility for a sewage spill near the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, CA. In June, over 2.1 million gallons of Mexican sewage leaked into the Tijuana River Valley following a breakdown at several U.S. waste treatment facilities. Agencies have responded by dodging responsibility because of jurisdictional questions.

The incident ranks as one of the county’s largest sewage-related accidents in the past decade, and one that likely would prompt hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties if it were caused by a local agency.

The sewage discharge originated in Mexico, where an estimated 5 million gallons of sewage were released June 2 and 3 and then funneled to the United States through Smuggler’s Gulch. Evidently the pumps couldn’t keep up, so the sewage ran into the Tijuana River Valley.

The boundary commission did take required steps to notify local agencies about the sewage spill in a report but they made no attempt to recapture the liquid. And in addition to no clean-up, there will be no real enforcement action either. The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board says they don’t have jurisdiction.

Other regulators argue that even though the source is south of the border, it is bypassing U.S. taxpayer-funded infrastructure that was designed to capture that flow.