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franklin county times

ADEM approves $348M for water, sewer projects

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management in Montgomery announced that it has awarded $348 million in grants and loans to repair and upgrade crumbling, malfunctioning and overwhelmed water and sewer systems in Alabama, benefiting residents in nearly three-quarters of the state’s counties – with more funding to be announced in coming months. Some of that money is coming to Franklin County.

During the Red Bay City Council meeting Sept. 21, Red Bay Mayor Charlene Fancher reported she received notification from ADEM the previous week to announce that in the first round of funding of ARPA infrastructure grant funds, the City of Red Bay Sewage Disposal Board and the Water Works and Gas Board were approved for funding.

“The Sewage Disposal Board was awarded a 100 percent grant in the amount of $1,130,000,” explained Fancher. “The Water Works and Gas Board applied for $2.4 million and was awarded ARPA funds in the amount of $1.2 million, with the remaining $1.2 coming from SRF loan funds.”

According to ADEM, many of the public water and sewer systems in Alabama have significant repair and upgrade needs. Some residents lack adequate water or sewer service, adversely affecting their health and quality of life. The loans and grants announced by ADEM are designed to address those problems.

Fancher said it’s a blessing to have received grants in the first round of ADEM funding. She congratulated both boards and said she and the council “convey our thanks to engineer Rod Hawkins for continuously keeping us updated on funding opportunities and working hard, for both entities, in submitting grant applications, which we know is not an easy process.”

A of communities in addition to Red Bay will benefit from funding.

“We are making an unprecedented investment in water and sewer systems across Alabama to address long-standing and, in some cases, dire needs that go back decades,” explained ADEM Director Lance LeFleur.

“These funds are going to communities with the most critical needs,” LeFleur added, “such as in the Black Belt, that would not otherwise be able to afford the repairs and upgrades on their own. These projects are going to have a significant, positive effect on the lives of millions of Alabamians.”

In a special session in January, the state legislature approved spending $225 million out of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act funding to help public water and sewer systems with the greatest infrastructure needs as well as individual residents in need of water or sewer services.

ADEM is supplementing the $225 million with other federal and state funds. The Department expects to receive $765 million over the next five years from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed by Congress this past year and is combining that with $111 million in grants and loans through the State Revolving Fund. All totaled, ADEM reports it expects to commit $473 million this year to water and sewer systems.

As of Sept. 15, ADEM had awarded funding to systems in at least 48 of Alabama’s 67 counties. ADEM’s needs-based approach means funding is going first to communities that have the most critical needs and the least ability to pay for the work on their own.

LeFleur stressed that the recipients chosen so far are just the first round of grants and loans to be awarded by ADEM.

“We make no pretense that we can satisfy all the water and sewer infrastructure needs in the state of Alabama,” he said. “The billions of dollars in requests we have received total several times the amount of money we have available. Projects we are not able to fund this year will be considered for funding in future years.”

Visit www.alabamawaterprojects.com for more information about the program and regular updates on grant applications and awards. The website includes links to lists of the water and sewer systems that have applied for grants and loans, as well as those systems that already have been awarded funding.

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