Rehab hopes: Council OKs applying for up to $2 million for water, sewer projects

Published 8:27 pm Thursday, March 26, 2015

By adopting a resolution during its meeting Monday, Washington’s City Council opened the door for the city to possibly receive up to $2 million for water and sewer improvement projects.

The source of the money would be the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. The money — low-interest or interest-free loans — may be used for eligible water and/or wastewater projects. The fund will make at least $65 million available this funding cycle. March 31 is the deadline to apply for part of that funding, according to Allen Lewis, the city’s public-works director.

Councilman Doug Mercer expressed concern about short notice of the funds. City Manager Brian Alligood agreed there was short notice, adding the city only became aware of the available funds during a recent meeting with state officials.

Councilman Larry Beeman said the city should be setting aside money for water and sewer improvements each year so it does not have to rely on other funding options. Beeman also said the city should take advantage of the funding that may come from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

City Manager Brian Alligood said the city does set aside money for water and sewer improvements, with that revenue generated by water and sewer rates paid by customers.

“One of the issues that we’ve got is when is the last time that we had a sewer rate increase inside the city of Washington?”

“I couldn’t answer that question,” Alligood said.

“What I’m saying is that if we are going to maintain the system, we need to look at increasing whatever it is to maintain it. This is an indication to me that we just didn’t have the money to put into repairing the existing mains we have. That’s what it says to me,” Roberson said.

If the city receives $2 million interest-free, that money would be paid back at $100,000 a year for 20 years, according to a city document.

Even if the city does not qualify for the zero-percent interest rate, the maximum percentage rate would be about 1.7 percent, or an annual payment of about $115,000 a year for 20 years, Lewis wrote in a memorandum to the mayor and City Council.

The projects include addressing inflow and infiltration issues with the sewer system. Inflow and infiltration is when water from outside sources (mostly groundwater) enters sewer lines through cracks, holes and faulty joints. I&I adds to wastewater-treatment costs because it increases the amount of wastewater to be treated.

Last year, the city received a $35,000 grant to pay for an I&I study to determine where outside water enters the sewer system. That study used visual inspection and smoke tests to locate possible I&I sites in the sewer system.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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