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In the midst of all the troubling economic news as a result of COVID-19, the City of Cairo received very positive news Tuesday.
The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) announced that Cairo has been awarded a $2,250,000 Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan for improvements to the city’s water distribution system.
The city will only pay 0.62 percent interest on the 10-year loan. According to GEFA officials, the city qualified for a reduced interest rate due to the conservation aspect of the proposed projects.
On top of the news of the low-interest loan being approved, the GEFA board has agreed to forgive up to $750,000 of the loan’s principal, which is the most in loan forgiveness the city has received to date. The city has successfully applied for and received GEFA loans in the past but the most in principal forgiveness has been $500,000, according to Cairo city manager Chris Addleton.
“That’s a chunk!” Addleton said on learning the news.
Addleton says the money will be used to invest in connecting water loops of the city’s water distribution system to provide redundancy in the distribution system as well as improve water pressure.
Part of the proposed project will be connecting the water plant at the Cairo Municipal Airport to the Hilltop above ground storage tank via a water main running down GA Hwy. 188 and over to the Hilltop tank. Another phase of the project is to extend a new main from 20th Street west to a location near the former Harvey’s Supermarket. Lastly, a loop from Crine Boulevard N.W. to Upper Hawthorne Trail will be constructed.
“We now have two plants that are operational and have arsenic treatment capabilities, so we have redundancy in our water supply. With this loan, we will be able to add redundancy to our distribution system. These projects will also help us balance our two plants and improve water pressure. I don’t know how far the money will go and maybe there are other things we can include,” the city manager said.
The next step will be for consulting engineer Stacy Watkins to engineer the proposed water loop projects and Addleton says construction likely would not begin until late 2021 or early 2022.
The D.W.S.R.F. provides low-interest loans for infrastructure projects that deliver safe, affordable drinking water. These projects conserve and improve water resources and facilitate economic development. The program is jointly funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Georgia.