The long-awaited Quemahoning Pipeline in Somerset County has received another $400,000 in federal appropriations, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster said Monday.

The latest allocation gives the county nearly $3 million in dedicated federal and state funding for the $21 million project, considered a linchpin for economic development.

The county has been promised about $2 million more from the federal government, and is working on obtaining an additional $7.5 million in state grants, officials said.

“For the taxpayers of Somerset County, it’s their money coming home,” said Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg. “Too many times, we look at our paychecks and see 20, 30, 40 percent taken out in federal taxes.

“This is the No. 1 priority for this county. Most of us take for granted that, when we turn on our spigots, we’ll have clean water.”

So far, the county has received $2.15 million in federal funding, along with $700,000 from the state.

It wants to begin construction on the pipeline in the spring, a year later than anticipated.

Though not all the money has been secured, officials said the remainder of the costs is expected to come through a low-interest PennVEST loan backed by municipal water contracts.

Shuster’s appropriation “takes us $400,000 closer to what we need,” County Commissioner Pamela Tokar-Ickes said. “Every dollar we get from the federal and state governments is money that brings this project closer to reality.”

The 18-mile pipeline from the Quemahoning Reservoir will have the capacity to pump up to 4 million gallons daily. Somerset and other localities along its path have agreed to purchase water from the project.

“If we don’t construct the Quemahoning pipeline, future growth in Somerset County will be hampered,” Tokar-Ickes said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We have to seize it.”

The Cambria Somerset Authority, which owns the Que and four smaller reservoirs in the two counties, recently received a state permit to withdraw up to 91 million gallons a day from the five sources, 71 million gallons of those from the Que.

The county is awaiting state permit approval to pump 4.5 million gallons a day through the pipeline.

Commissioner Jimmy Marker said the pipeline will spur development for years.

“This is a project that’s looking out into the future,” he said.

Along with providing a steady supply even during droughts, the pipeline also is a tool for growth, Somerset Borough Manager Ben Vinzani said.

“We’re certainly anxious, as are the commissioners, to have the project proceed,” Vinzani said.

The pipeline’s pricetag has risen considerably since the original estimate of $14 million, due to increasing construction costs during the drawn-out permit process and other delays.

That’s why the latest federal grant is so welcome, County Commissioner Brad Cober said.

“Knowing how the cost of the project has escalated because of the cost of concrete and steel, anytime we can get additional tax dollars is beneficial,” Cober said.

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