by Jonathan Weaver
The water is red in Sugarcreek Township, but township officials need help to keep it clear.
Sugarcreek Township Supervisor Randy Toy, along with five other local residents, attended the recent meeting of the Kittanning Suburban Joint Water Authority and requested a service-line extension in the township.
“We would like to have an extension come up to the intersection of Kittanning Hollow Road to where we could feed approximately 50 houses and four or five businesses, including the new township building and the fire hall,” Toy said.
The township currently uses well water.
The extension would be less than two miles. One of those businesses that would benefit from the water is God’s Country Paradise Park along Route 268.
“The township water there is very bad. We had it tested there when we built the new township building – they can’t even get us a filter that will take the particles out far enough to even consider putting anything on it,” Toy said.
Part of the reason for the unfiltered water could be due to the nearly 30 shallow gas wells in the area, many of which reportedly dug by Dannic Energy Corporation in Indiana, Pa.
However, according to Authority Manager Richard Lauer, the 9,200-foot extension would cost approximately $1 million.
Lauer and Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority Project Specialist Larry Gasparato drove the proposed expansion length last week. While Lauer said Gasparato thought highly of the expansion, he said it is a Board decision and said the expansion might not take place for the next seven years due to current financial constraints.
Board Member Tim Medice remembered the area in-question was initially to receive water service in 2003, but was taken off the H20 grant project list due to the high expense.
Sugarcreek Fire Chief Jim Hillwig said the fire department – which serves as a disaster relief center for the American Red Cross- did receive good drinking water when the station was built in 2003.
“We did have good water, but the water’s gone bad,” Hillwig said.
Since then, the department has used filters and softeners to pass a quarterly Department of Environmental Protection inspection for fire services and hall rentals – at a high cost.
“It’s a very large expense on our part to keep the systems running,” Hilwig said.
Lauer suggested Township officials meet with County Planning and Development Assistant Director Carmen Johnson about possibly applying for Community Development Block grant funding, to which Toy responded that they have a meeting in the next few days.
The water authority has also utilized the grant funds to expand in Sugarcreek Township before. To receive such funding, officials would need to perform an income survey of all those effected. At least 51 percent of those would have to be of low-to-moderate income.
Water Authority Engineer Randy Krause also recommended contacting the Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation to see if abandoned mines could have led to the red water. He said that grant funds are also available through the State.
“Any little bit helps on this type of project,” Krause said. “Their funds are limited, but, still, it’s worth a shot.”
Township officials have also contacted Senator Don White (R -Armstrong/Indiana) and Representative Donna Oberlander (R -Armstrong/Clarion) for assistance.
“They’re willing to work with us to get what we need to get to get this done,” Toy said.
The Township is also prepared to negotiate with Petroleum Valley Regional Water Authority, which provides water service three miles away.
Board members did not make any formal decision on the request.