LaFayette Sun

City to receive $745k water grant if they up rates

By Jody Stewart
On Monday, Ann Gleaton, Supervisor of the LaFayette water-treatment plant spoke to the LaFayette Council regarding a $745,000 grant for an upgrade of the water treatment system from ADEM, an application that was submitted in January under the State Revolving Fund.

The City of LaFayette has been awarded the grant with the condition that the city must increase its rates. According to Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) LaFayette has one of the lowest rates on water in the state of Alabama. The City of LaFayette has not had a rate increase since 2011.

This grant would dramatically improve the current water system in the city, and provide citizens with much-improved water, but in order to do this, the council must have a majority vote to raise the rate of water in town or risks losing the grant.

Something Gleaton urged the council to consider doing, but the clock is ticking, and ADEM needs an answer soon.

“When you see red in a department there are problems. We need this rate increase to qualify for the grant which will keep us from having to borrow money from the bank. It just makes financial sense”, said LaFayette Mayor Kenneth Vines Vines has called for a work session on Wednesday to discuss the matter along with the council.

Nearly 400 public water and sewer systems across the state of Alabama have applied for the same grant to repair and upgrade their systems under a special program funded with COVID-19 relief money and overseen by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

Governor Kay Ivey announced earlier in the year that the Alabama Department of Finance has signed an agreement with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) that officially provides $225 million in COVID-19 relief funds to ADEM for grants to provide or improve water and sewer services to residents.

“Every Alabamian should have access to clean drinking water and safe, sanitary disposal of wastewater,” said Governor Ivey. “We are extremely pleased that through this program we are able to make that a reality for many of our citizens who have lacked such basic services. Not only will these projects improve access to clean drinking water and sanitary sewers, they will also generate economic activity and create jobs by pumping millions of dollars into communities, many of which are rural and far from large industries and big employers. This is truly a win-win for the people of Alabama.”

Of the $225 million, the Legislature appropriated $120 million for grants to public water or sewer systems with previously identified emergency or high-need projects and do not require a local match; $100 million for grants to public water and sewer systems that may require local matching funds based on their ability to pay; and $5 million for grants to demonstration projects in the Black Belt to address sewage disposal problems prevalent in rural, low-population-density areas where poor soil conditions prevent wastewater from septic systems from being absorbed into the ground.

“This is an historic opportunity to address longstanding water and sewer needs to benefit hundreds of thousands, and potentially millions, of Alabamians,” ADEM Director Lance LeFleur said. “There is nothing more basic to good health than clean drinking water and sanitary wastewater disposal.”
Mayor Kenneth Vines, “The water issue in LaFayette was something I ran on and I believe our city, our citizens and our children deserve quality water. This grant will allow us to begin the process of improving our water situation. No one likes rate increases but it is a necessary step we must take for our community.”

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