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Gainesville not likely to receive stimulus funding for water and sewer projects
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Northeast Georgia projects

Blairsville: Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan of $322,800 and subsidy of $753,200 for the rehabilitation of a portion of the city’s sewer system.

Braselton: Two Georgia Fund loans totaling $1,240,000. The loans will finance upgrading and replacing two wastewater pump stations. The total cost of both projects is $1,540,000, with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs committing $300,000 through an Appalachian Regional Commission grant.

Clarkesville: Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan of $528,000 and subsidy of $1,232,000 for the installation of improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment facility.

Commerce: Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan of $330,000 and subsidy of $770,000 for improvements to two water pollution control plants.

Demorest: Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan of $153,000 and subsidy of $357,000 for the construction of a sludge dewatering building at the city’s water pollution control plant.

Gwinnett County: Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan of $2,000,000 and subsidy of $3,000,000 for the installation of a power generator that will be fueled by gas drawn from anaerobic digesters. The electricity will be used to help power the wastewater treatment facility.

Helen: Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan of $386,400 and subsidy of $901,600 for the rehabilitation of the city’s wastewater collection system.

Jefferson: Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan of $218,000 and subsidy of $327,000 for the replacement of an impervious-surfaced parking lot with grass filter strips.

Maysville: Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan of $225,000 and subsidy of $525,000 for the rehabilitation of the city’s wastewater collection system.

Toccoa: Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan of $300,000 and subsidy of $700,000 for improvements to the Eastanollee Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Gov. Sonny Perdue’s announcement this week of 23 low-interest loans, financed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, did not include money for the Gainesville Public Utilities Department.

However, many of Gainesville’s neighbors — Braselton, Gwinnett County and Jefferson — are slated to receive a portion of $39 million in federal stimulus funds for water and sewer projects.

The stimulus, distributed by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority along with low interest loans, are geared toward improving environmental infrastructure to improve water quality across the state.

Gwinnett County will receive $3 million of the stimulus funding for a power generator for a wastewater treatment facility. Jefferson officials were approved for $327,000 of stimulus funds to help fund the replacement of an impervious-surface parking lot with grass filter strips.

Gainesville is not on the list to receive the funds, however. Kelly Randall, director of the Gainesville utility, said the department applied but withdrew its request for the funds, sensing the likelihood that other projects were more likely to receive the funding.

"There were several projects in front of us who stood a very good chance of getting it that would well use up the balance that was available," Randall said. "So we elected not to submit that."

The department had originally hoped to get financing for $1 million worth of sewer rehabilitation projects across the city. Some of the $1 million project would have included replacing old sewer lines and other spot repairs, Randall said.

The city utility still has the sewer rehabilitation project listed in a five-year capital improvement plan.

"The main issue that caused other projects to go prior to ours is the readiness factor," Randall said. "Those that were absolutely ready to be built go a higher priority, whereas our job still needed to be designed and bid. They were looking for ‘shovel-ready’ projects."

While Randall said the city utility has no "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects, the city utility still hopes to receive some of the "green" funds from the federal stimulus package to help fund the city’s water meter replacement program. Randall said he expects to hear the outcome of the city’s application for that funding in the next few weeks.

"We don’t know how successful we’ll be, however, we are continuing forward," Randall said.

That project is likely not to receive the stimulus funds, according to Shane Hix, director of public affairs for the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority.

"Gainesville’s green project (water meter replacement) did not make the Drinking Water SRF fundable list and is not eligible for financing," Hix said in an e-mail.

Hix said the authority’s board will vote on some of the other applications for funding at its next board meeting on Aug. 25.

The authority still has more than $53 million in stimulus funding to allocate for rural, non-rural and green projects that would improve water and wastewater quality, Hix said.

Stimulus funds were approved by Congress in February as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That act requires states to reserve 20 percent of the stimulus funds for green infrastructure, water or energy efficiency improvements, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

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