Letter contained distortions, half-truths

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The Dec. 8 letter to the editor, “Don’t sell treatment system,” contains a number of distortions and half-truths about Pennsylvania American Water and our parent company, American Water, which cannot go unchallenged.

The letter from Washington D.C.-based Food and Water Watch falsely asserts that the Canonsburg-Houston Joint Authority’s consideration of selling its wastewater system would result in increased financing costs for infrastructure improvements and higher rates for customers, if it partnered with Pennsylvania American Water.

As an example, the group cited the Coatesville water and wastewater system, which Pennsylvania American Water acquired in 2001. What the letter failed to mention is that Pennsylvania American Water was mandated under a consent order by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to correct previous sewer system violations. The required upgrade and expansion of Coatesville’s 1930s-era wastewater treatment plant cost approximately $55 million, in addition to the nearly $24 million upgrade of the community’s water treatment plant that we completed last year.

These upgrades were partially financed through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, which is provided through the use of federal funding. Pennsylvania American Water also takes advantage of other low-interest financing options, which make our system improvements more affordable, reduce short-term debt and lower our cost of capital.

Not surprisingly, FWW also failed to mention that Pennsylvania American Water’s current rate filing with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission proposes a decrease in wastewater rates for our customers in Coatesville and, locally, in Claysville.

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ latest report card gave the nation’s wastewater infrastructure a “D” grade. The report stated the “capital investment needs for the nation’s wastewater and stormwater systems are estimated to total $298 billion over the next 20 years.” Unfortunately, FWW doesn’t provide any solutions for local leaders who have to deal with these challenges; all they offer is conjecture and criticism.

Local officials need to base important decisions on the facts, and not be distracted by the false claims and distortions of out-of-town special interests. We are proud of Pennsylvania American Water’s record of providing communities in Washington, Clarion and Beaver counties and across the Commonwealth with reliable water and wastewater services at a reasonable cost.

Gary Lobaugh


Lobaugh is the external affairs manager for Pennsylvania American Water.

Letter contained distortions, half-truths

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