Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced on Thursday that the state Board of Water and Natural Resources has approved a $4 million funding package to Britton for wastewater collection system improvements.
Britton Mayor Dr. David Kleinberg gave a presentation to the board when it met in Pierre last Wednesday and Thursday.
The funding package includes a $1 million grant from the Consolidated Water Facilities Construction Program, a $500,000 Water Quality grant and a $2.5 million loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program.
“Britton is a very proactive community, and these funds will help make much-needed repairs to the city’s wastewater collection system,” Governor Daugaard said.
The Consolidated Water Facilities Construction Program provides grants and loans for water, wastewater, and watershed projects statewide. The Legislature appropriates Water and Environment Funds annually to the Consolidated program through the Governor’s Omnibus Water Funding Bill. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program provides low-interest loans for wastewater and storm sewer projects, and Water Quality grants are funded from fees paid by the borrowers.
Kleinberg said that there are a couple of options for obtaining additional funding for the project.
“We’re looking at a couple of sources – a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Rural Development – for additional grant money,” said Kleinberg. “It has also been true at times that the engineers have been generous with their estimates, so it’s possible bids could come in lower,” he said.
Kleinberg added that with the state loan money, monthly sewer bills would likely need to go up from the present $24 to between $40-$45 in order for the city top remain under its debt limit. He said the city does not currently plan to pursue any more loans because that would force water rates to go even higher.
“We have to assume that nobody is going to give us more money, and if they do, we will be pleasantly surprised,” the mayor said. “Our intention is to do as much as we can with as much as we have. Depending what happens with the bids, that may mean we will have to change some of our approach.”
The first phase of the project was done last year when the city’s sewer lines were cleaned and televised. Results showed that about 80 percent of the city’s sewer lines were in need of replacement. The other 20 percent has already had the old clay pipe replaced with PVC.
“It could be compared to doing a colonoscopy and finding cancer everywhere,” said Kleinberg. “We realized we had a big problem and are taking aggressive control.”
The project will take most of two construction seasons. Hopes are to begin work this summer, but it’s possible the project will not get underway until 2014.
“We will need everybody’s patience and understanding when we tear up just about every road in the city,” concluded Kleinberg. “Everybody will be affected. But we want everybody to understand that it is the only thing we can do to keep the city livable.”