CLEARFIELD – For residents along portions of the Clearfield-Glen Richey Highway, Pine Grove, Carbon Mine Road and Litz Bridge areas, potable water has been a desperately needed for many years.
As the waterlines for the Clearfield Municipal Authority were extended, the residents hoped they would eventually get their chance.
And when Glen Richey was connected to public water through a partnership between Lawrence Township and the Pike Township Water Authority, residents in these areas asked, “When is it our turn?”
That turn has finally come. CMA has been exploring ways to extend the lines for years and now, with the help of some grant money, the expansion is on its way.
While the grant money is coming from Pennsylvania’s Abandoned Mine Land Grant, the money wouldn’t be possible without efforts on the federal level.
Yesterday, a press event was held at the Lawrence Township Recreational Park, an area built on a reclaimed surface mine site and very close to where the water lines will be constructed.
And representatives from all levels – federal, state, county and township – were on hand to talk about the project and its impact on the area.
John Dawes, executive director of the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, emceed the event and explained that the Fifth Congressional District has received half-million dollars in grant funds alone and Clearfield County has $7 million worth of projects that need to be funded.
He praised local efforts by not only government officials, but also the Clearfield County Conservation District, Trout Unlimited, local watershed groups and citizens for working to make this project happen.
Patrick McDonnell, secretary for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said this is an opportunity to allow for future growth in the area, not only for residents, but also economically as businesses will look to this and future projects as part of the decision of where to locate. He added that this is one of 14 projects in the works to take back abandoned mines and reclaim them.
U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-5 of Howard, was able to attend and Dawes noted he was instrumental in getting the pilot funds in place.
Thompson said it was important to him to think about legacies.
“I’m proud of the coal mined out of Clearfield County—out of Pennsylvania,” he said. Thompson noted that it was coal that fueled the Industrial Revolution and provided the ability for us to win World War I and World War II.
However, Thompson added that with the practices that took place then, there were consequences, most notably the contamination of land and water. He said our legacy now is to clean up that contamination, heal the scars and the land.
Of the 435 Congressional Districts in the United States, the Fifth District has the most abandoned surface mines. Since 1977, $11 billion has been generated to clean up abandoned mines across the country, and it is through government and community partnerships that the work is possible.
“By working together with a vision we can get things done that are good for Pennsylvania,” Thompson said.
John Williams, manager of CMA, added that the authority has worked since 1882 to provide safe, high-quality drinking water in the most cost effective way possible. He added that this project will not result in any additional cost to customers.
Local business owner and member of the CCCD board of directors, Joe Kendrick, spoke about the advantages to businesses.
He said there is nothing more important than land and water and Clearfield County has the most beautiful land and water in the state. Kendrick noted that while potable water helps business, it will save families and provide safe water for them and their children.
Clearfield County Commissioner John Sobel added the county is proud of the project that brings about a partnership that proves great things can happen when government puts its mind to it.
Lawrence Township Supervisor Bill Lawhead agreed and said this is a partnership that will help 148 families. He said there would be no more trips to the Laundromat, no more buying water to drink and cook with.
Lawhead then said that one person who needed to be thanked is resident Larry Dixon, whom he said has been calling representatives, writing letters and delivering petitions in order to get a project like this moving.
After the press event, representatives were invited to take a vehicle tour along some of the roadways that will follow parts of the waterline project. The trip included pointing out possible sites for pumping stations and a water tank.