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Area cities receive water funding
GEFA loans to Flowery Branch, Braselton to pay for infrastructure projects
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Flowery Branch and Braselton were among seven Georgia cities awarded funding for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.

Loans totaling more than $15 million were announced Tuesday by GEFA, five of which will go toward water conservation activities and therefore qualify for a reduced interest rate. 

Flowery Branch will borrow $1.5 million through GEFA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund for wastewater treatment improvements.

The loan will finance the purchase of an existing treatment plant at condominium complex Cinnamon Cove, located off Gaines Ferry Road, as well as be used to fund construction of 22,000 linear feet of pipeline and two pumping stations. The pipeline includes 2,800 feet of sewer.

“Most of the project is along Georgia DOT or Hall County DOT right-of-way,” said Bill Andrew, city manager.

The Cinnamon Cove development is served by a package wastewater treatment plant that is older than 30 years, said Andrew, and is in need of replacement. 

“This plant has an existing phosphorus allocation for discharge to Lake Lanier,” Andrew said. “The city of Flowery Branch has assumed ownership of the facility in exchange for being able to transfer the Cinnamon Cove phosphorus allocation to the existing city plant.”

This will allow the city to adequately support future anticipated development, he said. 

The city’s Atlanta Highway plant is also more modern, Andrew said, and consistently provides substantially better treatment levels that are required by the city’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit.

Flowery Branch will pay 1.4 percent interest on a 20-year loan of $1.5 million. Total cost for the project cost is approximately $2.2 million.

“We applied for the loan because we did not receive the amount of (special purpose local option sales tax) funds that we had originally anticipated,” Andrew said. 

SPLOST funding will contribute approximately $570,000.

Project plans, initiated in 2010, were completed at the end of 2012, and submitted to the Environmental Protection Division for review and approval last June. 

Bids for the project are expected to be sought in March, with construction to follow in May and project completion slated for March 2015.

“The water, water supply and wastewater infrastructure programs administered by GEFA assist local governments with improving their environmental infrastructure,” GEFA Executive Director Kevin Clark said. “Financing water, water supply, sewer and solid waste projects encourages economic growth and the stewardship of our environment.” 

Braselton was awarded a $156,000 Georgia Fund loan. 

The $156,000 Georgia Fund loan is earmarked for construction of a chemical feed system and building for the town’s existing groundwater treatment facility. 

The town will pay 0.7 percent on the 10-year loan, and is one of the five cities awarded a reduced rate interest loan. 

Georgia Fund policy reduces the current interest rate to communities that have earned the WaterFirst designation from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, which recognizes communities for excellence in water stewardship. The total project cost is $156,000, with GEFA providing the entire amount. 

“The water savings will more than pay the loan amount,” said Town of Braselton manager Jennifer Dees.

Braselton has secured a number of GEFA loans for utility projects, Dees said. 

Additional cities awarded loan funding are Claxton, Elberton, Pooler, Thomaston and Unadilla.