Wanda Martinez, Technical Assistance Provider, RCAP Solutions, The Northeast RCAP
Midland, incorporated in 1906, is a small town located in Beaver County, Pennsylvania on the banks of the Ohio River. The town was known as one of the early mill towns in Pennsylvania and experienced an early 20th century industrial boom. Midland Steel Works became one of the most profitable businesses in the area and employed many locals. By 1907, the borough government, fire & police departments, energy and transportation systems were operating. The Midland Water Company was established by Midland Steel to supply the town with water in 1907. In 1911, the Crucible Steel Company of America purchased Midland Steel Works for about $7.5 million dollars and started its expansion. The area experienced exponential growth during that time as population boomed. In 1953, the Crucible Steel Company of America transferred ownership of the water company to Midland, and, today, the Municipal Authority serves Midland Borough, Shippingport Borough, and parts of Industry Borough with water.
When the Crucible Steel Company closed in the early 1980’s, the area and surrounding Boroughs all experienced economic decline. The resulting economic decline in the area has brought with it a population decline that affects Midland’s water utility financially. Since the mill closed operations; the water treatment plant remains oversized in relation to the amount of water it treats. There is significant concern about aging infrastructure and the state of deterioration on the part of the Municipal Authority*. For example, the Municipal Authority needs to update and replace the electrical wires and panels for both the water and wastewater system.
In addition, there are other components to the wastewater system that must be added, repaired, or replaced. Also, the Municipal Authority wants to close some dead ends in the distribution system to improve the water quality. The Municipal Authority wishes to update their utility maps as the existing maps are now very old and hard to read and understand.
RCAP Solutions staff started working with the Municipal Authority of the Borough of Midland in 2018, and it took some time to fully understand the magnitude of the need for technical assistance in this area. Because the Municipal Authority was planning to make updates to the water and wastewater system and the plant supervisor was close to retirement; it was very important for the system to have updated maps. The RCAP TAP worked with the supervisor in the field to collect all the GIS Data, and the RCAP GIS Specialist prepared the new maps for the water distribution system. Such maps include the location for the booster station, a new section of the distribution system, pump stations, and the Shippingport interconnection line.
After completion, RCAP was able to verify and confirm the locations of the assets with the supervisor. Also, the RCAP Pennsylvania State Lead initiated discussions with the Municipal Authority and the Borough regarding the wastewater collection system data and potential GIS solutions. RCAP Solutions staff have all worked collectively to support the Municipal Authority with information on the overall project development process, including financing options, asset management, GIS software options and licensing, and community advocacy issues. RCAP Solutions helped the community to identify different options for the financing of future updates in the water treatment and distribution systems.
After evaluating all the options, the Authority decided to apply to USDA and started an online application through the RD apply process. RCAP staff continued support on the application process, providing long distance assistance to the Municipal Authority during the COVID-19 pandemic. This assistance included issues involving the Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) number for RD Apply and explaining the application, the process to the Authority.
With RCAP’s assistance, the Municipal Authority of the Borough of Midland has new and accurate maps with information about hydrants, hydrant valves, the booster house, water feed stations and water valves in the main line. In addition, the community identified the right financial option for the necessary improvements at both the water and wastewater plants. RCAP believes the community has made excellent progress to improve their overall financial, managerial and technical capacity. RCAP Solutions staff were pleased to be able to utilize USDA technical assistance and training funding to assist this community with several financial and managerial tasks. The community is also pleased to be moving in the right direction on necessary improvements.
*Source: Tales of Midland’s 20th Century Golden Period June 6, 2017 in the Beaver County Times News https://www.timesonline.com/c95d0c62-4a00-11e7-920c-8747b414558a.html