Water Improvements For Hazleton Area

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HAZLETON -- Millions of dollars in state loans and grants will help improve water and sewer service around our area.

Tuesday, Pennvest announced funding for several projects including one in the Hazleton area. It's a $6.5 million grant which will be put to use. Pennvest is a is a state authority that provides funding to communities for sewer, waste water, and drinking water improvements, according to its website.

The Hazleton City Authority serves 15,000 homes and businesses in Luzerne, Carbon, and Schuylkill counties. Authority officials just got news that they're getting a $6.5 million state grant.

Randy Cahalan, the manager for the authority said the money will come in handy.

"We're very shocked and surprised and very grateful," said Cahalan.

Officials said part of the grant will be used for water flow improvements for some fire hydrants in the northeastern section of Hazleton.

Having good flow to fight fires, such as one earlier this month on North Cleveland Street in Hazleton, is important to emergency crews.

Fire Chief Don Leshko said a good flow can cut down on fire damage.

"Over the years the mains become calcified so over the years you may have a six inch main it may be reduced to a four inch main going to that hydrant due to calcification in the lines," said Chief Leshko.

Cahalan said the state grant could also help the authority hold the line on water bills.

"This is basically free money and it's a huge help to the ratepayers because it doesn't affect our rates," said Cahalan.

Doris Beishline works at a school for special needs students and pays her monthly water bill. Beishline said hearing that it may not go up is good news for her family.

"With today's economy everything is really tight and there is only myself and my one daughter and things are getting harder and harder with the price of food, gas, everything," said Beishline.

No word on when the Hazleton City Authority will begin making improvements with the $6.5 million state grant.