Sen. Schwank, Reps. Caltagirone, Rozzi declare $84.6M State Investment to help Reading Better Protect Environment, create jobs

The City of Reading will get a much needed boost in its ongoing efforts to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant, meet the terms of a federal order, and protect the quality of the Schuylkill River with the approval today of an $84.6 million investment by a state agency that’s dedicated to improving the quality of drinking water and local environments throughout Pennsylvania.

PENNVEST approved the low-interest loan during its meeting today. The $84.586 million decision will help the city upgrade its sewage treatment plant and help to resolve National Pollutant Discharge System violations.

The project will also create 140 construction jobs.

“We worked together to get this low-interest loan approved and it will be the residents of the City of Reading who will benefit from an upgraded and properly functioning treatment plant and a cleaner Schuylkill River,” Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Ruscombmanor Township) said. “Tens of thousands of people depend on the city’s treatment plant and need it to enjoy a better quality of life.”

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“This vital state investment means Reading will be able to meet the federal order that is requiring the city to have a new treatment plant ready to go in less than three years,” Rep. Thomas Caltagirone (D-Reading) said. “More importantly, it will restore a quality service that is desperately needed.”

The U.S. Department of Justice amended the federal consent decree in February 2014 to give Reading the ability to rebuild the current plant on Fritz’s Island.

“We all live downstream,” said Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Temple), “so we become better stewards of our local environment and we ensure the sustainability of the Schuylkill River and the Delaware Estuary with this critical state investment. The excellent work between local, state and federal governments is also saving millions of dollars for Reading as we move forward.”

The $84.6 million loan carries a one-percent interest rate and a 20 year repayment plan.

Among other things, the money will pay for the construction of a new pumping station, a primary clarifier distribution structure, the rehab of primary water clarifiers, and the conversion of aeration tanks.

PENNVEST approved a $10 million low-interest loan for the treatment plant project in April 2012.

Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority funding comes from a combination of state funds approved by voters, federal grants to PENNVEST from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and recycled loan repayments from previous PENNVEST funding awards.

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