Merski, Harkins: Erie secures $18 million to eliminate lead water drinking risk

Funding will support ongoing work to replace lead service connections

ERIE, Oct. 19 – Safer drinking water is on tap for more Erie residents, thanks to new funding of $18 million that will allow the Erie City Water Authority to replace more of the city’s lead-containing water service connections, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today.

The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority – which includes a $14.9 million grant and a $3.1 million low-interest loan – will allow the water authority to continue eliminating a serious potential hazard in the water supply.

“The most critical infrastructure investments we make are the ones that eliminate health and safety risks,” Merski said. “Last year, we secured Pennvest funding for the first phase of a project to remove lead-containing service connections from the water system. More of those lead-containing components remain, however, and their rapid corrosion continues to threaten the safety of our drinking water. The new funding will allow the water authority to replace another 2,700 connections serving nearly 7,000 residents.”

Harkins said, “Lead-based components in the water system pose a health threat – even at low levels – and the risk is especially dangerous to children. In this case, the danger comes from aging lead gooseneck pipe fittings, which can leach lead into the system as they deteriorate. The funding awarded today will allow the water authority to address that toxic threat.

“The funding will also help protect customers from having to shoulder the entire burden of improvements by preventing a 34% rate increase.”

The lawmakers said the funding will support the second phase of lead-connection removal work. Last year, the water authority received a $6.5 million Pennvest grant to replace 1,300 service connections.

The authority’s full system services 31,748 households in the City of Erie with additional service provided to Wesleyville Borough, McKean Borough, and the townships of Greene, Harborcreek, Lawrence Park, McKean, Millcreek, Summit and Fairview. The project area is an environmental justice and federally designated disadvantaged city community area with a median household income level below the state median household income level.

More about the funding is available here: