Regional water task force signs on 4 of 5 municipalities

MANSFIELD – Four of the five municipalities targeted to become members of a future regional water authority here have adopted resolutions agreeing to the concept, according to regional task force representative Bob Wood.

“We have resolutions passed by Richmond, Covington and Putnam townships and Blossburg Borough,” Wood said.

Wood, a former long time member of the Mansfield Municipal Authority board, and a local realtor, said he is hopeful the last one – Mansfield Borough – will get on board as well.

The next step, Wood said, is to report back to the borough in writing the results of the presentations to other municipalities.

“We are reporting back to them in writing right now and have been spreading the word with council members,” he said. “We expect they will give this the same consideration as the others have,” he added.

Wood said the goal is to find additional water for the Route 15 corridor and beyond for both commercial and residential growth and to find a way to transport that water from wherever it is found.

“There are going to be vendors and sellers of water and end users and buyers of water and if we find additional sources and figure out how to transport it to each other in the end we are hoping the rest of the process takes care of itself,” he said.

“For now and all future growth in the corridor, you are getting something that is usable in a dependable way for commercial and residential growth,” he added.

As each municipality has approved its resolutions regarding the formation of such an authority, the agreement has been updated, based on questions posed by the participating municipalities, Lantz said.

“By entering into it no municipality is pledging any resource fees or user fees, or any of their holdings,” he said.

“It doesn’t bind them to it, but allows us to start a legal process, have a hearing and then eventually an ordinance must be adopted,” Lantz said.

“The biggest concern voiced so far, has been are they pledging any of their sewer and water facilities and the answer is no,” Wood said. “It will have no authority to take over anything. It is to try to get a pipeline to transport water sources,” he added.

“Even if they opt in they can opt out later. This needs everyone together to get the strength in numbers. And it will help us with the joint municipal comprehensive plan,” he added.

The multi-municipal plan includes all municipalities participating with the exception of Blossburg Borough, which had already started its own plan before the others decided to update theirs, which was last done 10 years ago.

“As a group we’d be in a position to seek funding in terns of grants especially since the growth corridor has expanded over the past several years,” Wood said.

Lantz also said any new water authority will work within the state and federal parameters to solve any upcoming issues.

To fund the future water supply and transportation, in addition to greater access to federal and state grants, water projects may be funded by Act 13 impact fee funding.

“The commissioners have been very supportive of this and have said if an authority is formed to please approach them,” Wood said.

“This is a regional issue, and we are preserving this for future generations. We have a good base to do that and if we can get another municipality it will be great,” Lantz said. “We will make ourselves available to answer their questions.”