DUNCANNON, PERRY COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Perry County has long-simmering water issues. For instance, Duncannon’s water system is old and very leaky, but a loan from the state will help.

Just this summer, Duncannon went through two mandatory water conservation orders because of water supply issues, and the projects this loan covers could help prevent future problems.

After that difficult summer, the borough’s water system is doing a lot better.

“The borough’s water reserves have returned to essentially full capacity,” borough engineer Greg Rogalski said.

However, the problem of old pipes and leaks still exists.

“We have a constant kind of game plan in terms of replacing pipes and services to be able to reduce the number of leaks that are out in the system,” Rogalski said.

Rogalski said Duncannon’s system can lose up to half the water it produces every month but that could soon change. While Rogalski said it would be difficult for a system as old as the boroughs to meet the DEP standard of 20 percent water loss, he is expecting an improvement.

“I think a 30 percent water loss would be reasonable for our system given its age,” he said.

Duncannon just received a $650,000 low-interest loan from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST).

“It was in two parts, one part was to replace a specific section of water main that we’ve had a number of leaks on over the years,” Rogalski said.

In addition to replacing 1,300 feet of that water main, the borough will also install 450 feet of new water main. The loan will also help them install a 60-part leak detection system.

“It’s an electronic system that gets attached to the pipes inside people’s houses that ultimately can listen for leaks and then alert the borough to come and check the area out a little bit better,” Rogalski said.

State Senator Greg Rothman (R), whose district includes Duncannon and all of Perry County, said helping small communities pay for infrastructure projects is a priority.

“This is better for them, better for the environment,” he said. “We want to make sure that Perry County gets its fair share.”

When it comes to drinking water systems in particular, Rothman said the sooner the better.

“We take it for granted that you just turn on a switch and you’ve got clean water,” he said. “So, a 160-year-old community and maybe some of those lines are that old.”

Rogalski said this project won’t fix every leak.

“They’re very hard to find. And the only real way to address those is do these main replacement projects and ultimately get new pipe in the ground,” he said.

Doing that across the whole system is very expensive but every bit helps.

“A small amount of improvement actually goes a long way in conserving water for us and reducing our expenses. So it’s a continual process,” Rogalski said.

Rogalski said the borough is planning to start replacing the water main in spring, but the leak detection system could take longer because of supply chain issues.