TDEC Announces Local Water Infrastructure Investments

June 20, 2023
By: Dwayne Page

DeKalb County and the Cities of Smithville and Alexandria are being awarded grants for either water and or sewer line improvement projects according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

The local grant awards are among 131 grants totaling $299,228,167 from the state’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) fund, part of which TDEC is administering in the form of drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure grants. Since August, TDEC has awarded and announced $933,632,711 in grant funds through ARP programming.

Of the 131 grants, 29 are collaborative grants and 102 are non-collaborative grants. Collaborative grants involve multiple entities (cities, counties, or water utilities) partnering on projects to work toward a shared purpose. All grants awarded represent 469 individual drinking water, wastewater, and/or stormwater infrastructure projects.

DeKalb County is receiving a “Collaborative Grant” in the amount of $700,000. DeKalb County, in collaboration with the Baxter Utility District, will use ARP funds to modernize aging infrastructure and reduce water loss. The grant will be used to replace approximately 12,150 linear feet of existing water line, which will improve operations in the City of Baxter’s water system and reduce leak responses.

The Cities of Alexandria and Smithville are receiving “Non-Collaborative Grants”.

The Town of Alexandria will use $674,931 in ARP funds to develop an Asset Management Plan and address critical drinking water and wastewater needs. Projects include the replacement of aged meters with new reading meter heads, the replacement of an aging booster pump station with new pumps and upgrades to the electrical system, a new back-up generator for the pumping station, and the replacement of an aging can-type sewer lift station with new grinder pumps.

The City of Smithville will use $1,336,999 in ARP funds to address critical wastewater needs. Projects include the renovation and replacement of approximately 9,000 linear feet of aged gravity sewer line subject to high amounts of infiltration and inflow.

Tennessee received $3.725 billion from the ARP, and the state’s Financial Stimulus Accountability Group dedicated $1.35 billions of those funds to TDEC to support water projects in communities throughout Tennessee. Of the $1.35 billion, approximately $1 billion was designated for non-competitive formula-based grants offered to counties and eligible cities to address systems’ critical needs. Those include developing Asset Management Plans, addressing significant non-compliance, updating aging infrastructure, mitigating water loss for drinking water systems, and reducing inflow and infiltration for wastewater systems.

The grants are part of the $1 billion non-competitive grant program. The remaining funds ($269 million) will go to state-initiated projects and competitive grants.

“As Tennessee continues to experience unprecedented growth, we’re prioritizing critical infrastructure investments that will address the needs of Tennesseans and give local communities the resources needed to thrive,” Gov. Bill Lee said. “We look forward to the improvements these projects will bring, and we commend the communities who have gone through the application process.”

“More than ever, infrastructure is critically important to our local communities,” said Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge. “This money will allow cities and towns to address deficiencies and make improvements that will pay dividends not just in the present but in the years to come as well. I greatly appreciate the work of the governor and my colleagues on the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group for their work in making sure these funds were spent appropriately and efficiently.”

“We continue experiencing considerable growth across the state, and many of our communities require additional resources to address their evolving needs,” said Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville. “These grants will play a major role in ensuring cities and towns have access to infrastructure solutions that will enable them to continue thriving so Tennessee remains a preferred destination for both businesses and families.”

“We are grateful to the local applicants, and we anticipate excellent results from these grants,” said TDEC Commissioner David Salyers. “This shows that Tennessee recognizes the need for improved water infrastructure, and we are grateful for the leadership of Governor Lee and the General Assembly in seeing that communities get this assistance.”

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