WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Funding Will Advance Colchester Sewer Project

Sep 10, 2012

Colchester has the last and most important component to move forward with a large-scale sewer project-money.

The USDA's Rural Development program will give the city a grant of a $1.56 million and a loan of $2.35 million. The interest rate on the loan is 2.125%.

Mayor Danny Bice is glad for the money but he still thinks it will put stress on the city's finances.

He says, “We were actually hoping to get a little bit more (in the grant). We're going to have to run the numbers and make sure it's still feasible for the customers in town.”

Design work on the project is nearly complete. The city has been exploring ways to pay for the design and construction of the first phase of the project. That's estimated to cost about four million dollars. It could take four years to finish.

Bice says the city has been under pressure from the federal EPA to improve its water quality after the agency cited the city several times in the last year for violations.
He says, “What this is going to do is get the ball rolling because (without the financing) it was probably going to be a year before we could get anything started. We'll probably be able to get the ball rolling in six to nine months now.”

The total work on the sewer system will be divided into phases over nearly a decade to reduce the impact of sewer rate hikes on city residents.