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Two NE Ga. communities get combined $1.4 million for utility upgrades
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Two Northeast Georgia communities have received loans as part of an $86 million statewide effort to improve water and sewer systems.

Cornelia was approved for $985,000 to pay for additions to its wastewater collection system. And the Lumpkin County Water & Sewage Authority is getting $408,000 to finance well rehabilitation to improve water quality and reliability.

Phil Foil, executive director of the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, announced the loans for nine environmental infrastructure projects throughout Georgia.

Gov. Sonny Perdue touted the move earlier this week.

"Investment in our state's water and sewer infrastructure promotes the stewardship of our natural resources and helps to meet Georgia's future water needs," he said.

"The projects ... will improve water system efficiency and will ensure clean and safe water for our citizens."

Cornelia will use its money toward a $2.6 million project involving the installation of 43,000 feet, or 8-plus miles, of sewer lines, with nearly half of the lines serving as force mains. The project also entails three new lift stations.

"We'll be providing sewer to a very large portion of Habersham County where there's no sewer anywhere close to it," said Cornelia City Manager Donald Anderson Jr.

"(The project) also will allow us to run sewer down to the Ga. 365 corridor."

Both sides of Ga. 365 between Demorest-Mount Airy Highway to mile marker 45 will have sewer, "which we think really opens the door up to commercial development," he added.

The project has been under way for about nine months and should be completed within about 60 days, Anderson said.

Special purpose local option sales tax money is paying for the rest of the project.

Dudley Owens, director of the Lumpkin County agency, said, "We've got community water system rehabilitation and upgrades that are needed."

The water authority manages several community well systems, he said.

Owens didn't have a schedule for the improvements.

"The water, sewer and solid waste programs administered by GEFA assist local governments with improving their environmental infrastructure," Foil said. "Financing water, sewer and solid waste projects encourages economic growth and the stewardship of our environment."

Gerald Thompson, chairman of the agency's board of directors and Fitzgerald mayor, said the projects being funded show that GEFA "is investing in communities that are willing to invest in themselves."

Other governments receiving loans are Atlanta, Clayton, LaFayette, Bryan County, Carroll County Water Authority and Cobb County. Atlanta received money for two initiatives.

The state finance authority administers two federal loan programs.

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund is reserved for wastewater infrastructure and water pollution abatement projects. The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund is for water infrastructure projects.

Lumpkin County's money comes from the Drinking Water fund. The authority must pay 3 percent interest on a 20-year loan, with 30 percent of the principal to be forgiven.

Cornelia, approved for a Clean Water loan, will pay 3 percent interest on a 20-year loan, with 15 percent of principal forgiveness.


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