Bertie water projects gain state funds

Published 9:39 am Tuesday, February 9, 2016

RALEIGH – Hoping his actions might avert a water crisis much like the one being experienced in the state of Michigan, Governor Pat McCrory has announced $119 million will be placed towards paying for drinking water and wastewater projects across North Carolina.

Loans and grants will be made available to assist towns across North Carolina in paying for 50 separate projects.

Three Bertie County projects have been earmarked to receive funds, including one municipality, the town of Aulander.

“Clean water and reliable infrastructure are essential to health, quality of life, and economic growth,” the Governor said in a press release. “With this funding, towns can protect their water quality and become more economically competitive.”

More than $500 million in projects have been funded since January 2014 through the state’s water infrastructure authority.

“Many smaller towns would struggle to pay for critical repairs and modernization of their aging water infrastructure without these funds,” said Kim Colson of the state’s Division of Water Infrastructure.

“We are proud to help North Carolina communities tackle the challenge of maintaining viable, safe and efficient systems for their citizens,” Colson said.

The monies were awarded through three funds: 1) the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), dedicated to drinking water source, treatment, storage or transmission and distribution systems with over $42.67 million awarded; 2) the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, used to improve water quality by financing wastewater, storm water and other clean water infrastructure improvements where grants and loans total over $62.25 million; and, 3) the Community Development Block Grant for Infrastructure Program, used to build public water and sewer infrastructure in areas where the percentage of low-to-moderate income residents is at least 51 percent. $14.1 million in funding is available here.

Bertie County has four water districts, two of which will receive funding through the DWSRF.

The Aulander funding, the ninth project on the state priority listing, is for $1,741,549 – the fifth-most awarded – and will be for improvements to the town’s sewer system.

At the second January meeting of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners, held in Powellsville, County Manager Scott Sauer and County Public Works Director Ricky Spivey reported the good news to the Commissioners on the county’s water projects.

“A couple of years ago the Commissioners engaged an engineering report to look at our entire water system, and as a result of that they had approved a capital improvement plan to address various areas and sections of the water system,” Sauer recalled.

In the summer of 2015 the county was successful with a rural development package from the USDA where the county would receive $1,067,000 in grant money.

“(This will) help replace meters, to replace pipes that had become obsolete, and to help put in an electronic control system to help Mr. Spivey manage the system remotely,” Sauer said.

The County Manager said the USDA funds will be coupled with $1.7 million in a 40-year loan and a $264,000 local commitment from the county; and now through the state two more applications have been approved.

“In District-2, the Commissioners were awarded financing through the Clean Water Drinking Fund of a loan of $1,339,350,” Sauer reported. “That is a loan, 20 years, and it is at 1.95 percent.”

Sauer said in Bertie’s Water District-4, the package the Commissioners approved was to help merge the Town of Roxobel’s water system with the county system.

“That package that was approved was for $1,678,550, but there’s a $500,000 grant with this financing, so this was really a home run for the Commissioners,” Sauer said.

The County Manager commended 3rd District State Senator Erica Smith-Ingram as one of the key players in assisting the Commissioners with the grant application.