Hopes for USDA funding for future water line projects have apparently dried up in Madison County.
The Madison County Industrial Development Authority hoped to get some help from the United States Department of Agriculture for major water line improvement/expansion in the county, but IDA executive director Marvin White said Feb. 16 that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding “didn’t come through” so the IDA will now turn its hopes for funding back to the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA).
The board agreed last October to pay engineering firm Peoples and Quigley $37,750 for preliminary engineering and environmental reports summarizing proposed water system improvements on a broad scale so they could apply for money for the project through the federal agency, after state monies became unavailable.
But utility director Steve Shaw said the USDA had “changed the rules” on the funding, which had been offered under a 45/55 grant/low-interest loan basis, including upping the interest rate from 2.75 percent to four or five percent, making the approximately $8.5 million project unfeasible.
The authority voted Feb. 16 to use the remainder of the engineering funds ($24,351) allocated to the USDA project to do the engineering prep work for possible GEFA funding that may come through to the state from the federal government’s economic stimulus package. White said the IDA has already submitted plans for $15 million worth of projects to GEFA.
In a separate matter, the IDA voted to accept a deed for 2.897 acres of land on the dam of Seagraves Mill lake from the Seagraves family. The deed to the IDA is necessary, White explained, in order for Congress to accept the dam as a watershed project. The IDA plans to use the lake as a future water source.
Once a bill accepting the project is passed, the IDA plans to apply for a 65/35 matching grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The county should be able to use SPLOST funds for the 35 percent match, White said.
The project is expected to cost around $700,000 and will include raising the lake’s dam three feet, installing a concrete drain and enlarging the lake’s spillway, according to White.
Also last week, the authority accepted the low bid of North Carolina-based Southern Corrosion for $76,327 to refurbish and paint the newly installed Hwy. 98 water tank.
The IDA also agreed to provide a water tap and connection to neighboring Hwy. 98 property owner Nicole Ernest in exchange for an easement for the water line at the new tank. The board also voted to accept a deed and easement from Madison County for the water tank site.
In other business, Shaw said the water authority billed 597 customers in January, who used a total of 3.22 million gallons of water.