By Gianna Holiday
Governor Roy Cooper announced millions in loans to help pay for 94 drinking water and wastewater projects statewide.
The Town of Beech Mountain was approved for the 2022 Sewer Main Improvement Project and they received a loan of $2,870,000.
The project funding was approved at the State Water Infrastructure Authority’s Feb. 10 meeting. The Authority is an independent body with responsibility for awarding federal and state funding for water and wastewater infrastructure projects.
“North Carolina’s communities need resilient, viable water infrastructure systems to support economic development. Funding these projects helps counties and towns with aging water infrastructure deliver clean, safe water to attract new jobs and keep people healthy,” said Governor Cooper.
The grants and loans are funded through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan program, Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan program, the Drinking Water and Wastewater State Reserve programs, and through the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, 2019.
“This is the third phase of multiple projects that we’ve gone to the State Revolving Fund for a loan and they’ve granted it each time,” said Town Manager Bob Pudney. “It’s not new for Beech Mountain but we have further plans and it’s the best way to fund our infrastructure upgrades. This one is particularly for water and sewer upgrades.”
Studies show that North Carolina needs from $17 billion to $26 billion in upgrades to its water and sewer infrastructure statewide, with emphasis on older towns.
“The town is 40 years old so the water and sewer pipes and infrastructure are relatively old so we have a number of leaks in our freshwater system and our sewer system has issues where, from time to time, we have some sewage leaks,” said Pudney. “Because of this, we are working very diligently to upgrade our system from one end of the town to the other.”
Pudney said they are just now completing a 20 thousand foot replacement of water and sewer lines. Their next project will utilize the funding they have received.
As indicated in the funding award summary document, the amount of funding requested by North Carolina towns in this funding round alone, $850 million, far exceeded the $282.3 million in available funding for this round-strong evidence of the need for additional funding.
The Authority will consider 110 additional local government units for the designation at a later meeting. In the interim, the towns will be given an opportunity to share additional information that may affect their assessment.
Beech Mountain’s goal is to replace or repair all of the leaky pipes that need to be upgraded.
“We’ve been accomplishing a lot over the years and we certainly could not do it without these State Revolving Funds, that certainly makes it financially feasible,” Pudney said.
Pudney said the environmental impact of leaky sewers is “tremendous” so it is something the town council has made this a priority to tackle.
The new project is set to begin in July and the town has already applied for further funding for the next year.