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Fayetteville PWC to pursue ARPA funding, state loans for water and wastewater projects


The Fayetteville Public Works Commission plans to pursue a potential $5.4 million in state loans and American Rescue Plan Act funding for water distribution rehabilitation, sanitary sewer main rehabilitation and a GPS/GIS inventory of water laterals.

PWC officials said $5.4 million would be a best-case scenario because of the competition for the funding. 

The PWC board on Wednesday passed a resolution for the staff to apply for State Revolving Loans and the American Rescue Plan Act grant funding.

The State Revolving Fund offers affordable loan options to improve water supply infrastructure and drinking water safety.

“Many of the federal funds that have flowed down during the pandemic and recent congressional activities have not floated to PWC,” General Manager and CEO Elaina Ball said. “The only allocation that we have received has been, thankfully, through our state delegation. An award of approximately $220,000 for a pilot project to clean up the Texfi groundwater contamination. PWC is funding the remaining $220,000 for the project, which is on city-owned land.

“However, we have formed a grant-writing team that crosses electric as well as water,” Ball said. “It has garnered support by Hazen and Sawyer, as well as our grant-writing team, to essentially apply for as much of the $1.7 trillion Infrastructure (Plan) Grants that could be brought to our community."

Hazen and Sawyer is an environmental engineering firm that focuses on water, wastewater and solid waste infrastructure. It is serving as a consultant for the local utility.

In general, ARPA grant money has been designated for broadband, roads, bridges and other major projects.

Mick Noland, chief operations officer for water resources for PWC, told PWC commissioners that while $1.7 trillion is a lot of money, “With the way prices are going up and you find that across 50 states that everybody has needs – we’re going to try to go after as much as we can but the competition is going to be tough. And a lot of time it’s based on priority and needs.”

The first line of allocations is with ARPA, Noland said during a presentation on American Rescue Plan Act grants to the commission.

The state is handling the ARPA money.

According to Noland, PWC will be pursuing $5 million in funding from American Rescue Plan Act grants to replace and rehabilitate water lines. The utility plans to seek $400,000 in State Revolving Loans to do asset inventory-type work.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, honestly, for PWC and others. The deadline is May 2nd,” Seth Robertson of Hazen and Sawyer said.

ARPA funds were sent out last year to every state, town and city, including Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

“It often did not make it to utilities, though it can be used for water and wastewater projects,” said Robertson, who took part in the meeting remotely.

Robertson said $1.6 billion in state funding is being put into water and wastewater infrastructure.

That’s the good news, he said.

As for the bad news, Robertson said that of the $1.6 billion, more than $800 million already has been allocated directly through earmarks, leaving $758 million remaining to be distributed. That money, he said, is focused on “non-viable distressed at-risk systems.”

“Unfortunately,” he said, “you’re not one of those.”

That said, Robertson said there are two pots of funding PWC is eligible for that it has not been eligible for in the past.

One is for private construction grants, where there is about $55 million available in this round for utilities like PWC that are not at-risk or stressed, he said. And a little less than $80 million for planning-type grants.

PWC wants to use some of the funding to locate water laterals and the material they are made of. Water laterals are a one-inch line that comes off the water main in the street to a customer’s meter.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, Public Works Commission, ARPA funding