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Three major loops will be connected in the City of Cairo’s water distribution system following action by the city council last week.
The Cairo City Council voted unanimously to accept the low bid of $1,577,784.05 from Blankenship Contracting of Dothan for major water system improvements that add redundancy to the city’s water system.
Chris Addleton, Cairo’s city manager, said the project includes the installation of 27,000 linear feet of a 12-inch water main on State Route 188, U.S. 84 and Lower Hawthorne Trail, which will loop water mains to improve water pressure and water system redundancy.
The most critical part of the project is connecting the new water plant at the Cairo Municipal Airport with the Hilltop above ground storage tank. Currently, treated drinking water is pumped from the airport plant out of a single water main running south from the airport to U.S. 84.
While rehabilitation of the MacIvor treatment plant’s above ground storage tank was taking place, the water main leaving the airport plant burst and resulted in a loss of water for the entire city on Nov. 14, 2018.
According to Addleton, with this loop, water can be pumped in either direction. “This provides us much needed redundancy in the system, which we desperately need,” Addleton said.
Completing loops on U.S. 84 and Lower Hawthorne Trail will also improve water pressure. A 12-inch line will be installed from 20th Street S.E. to First Avenue N.E. via a bore that was previously completed under Little Tired Creek.
The contractor will have 240 consecutive calendar days to complete the work, which will also include valves, fire hydrants, horizontal and directional bores, erosion control and traffic control related to the construction.
The city received a total of eight bids for the project ranging from the low bid up to $2,337,057.50.
The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority approved a $2,250,000 loan for the city to finance the project last May. The GEFA board also approved $750,000 of loan forgiveness and the interest rate is .62 percent for 10 years.
In related news, the GEFA board approved an $800,000 loan through the Clear Water State Revolving Fund, Disaster Relief Act loan with $160,000 of the loan forgiven and zero interest for 10 years. A one-time one percent loan origination fee of $8,000 must be paid by the city. The Disaster Relief Act is part of the federal relief as a result of Hurricane Michael that ravaged the area in October 2018. These funds, according to Addleton, will be used to replace aging sewer mains, primarily the line which gravity flows from the intersection of South Broad and 13th Avenue S.W. to the wastewater treatment plant in southwest Cairo.
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas questioned if the $800,000 would cover the needed work. “We hope so, but really will not know until we put it out to bid. If not, we will have to reduce the scope of the project,” Addleton said.