Sunflower receives funds for water, sewer updates
By Leah Allen
Sunflower will receive a $716,000 grant/loan package ($507,000 grant, $209,000 loan) to rehabilitate an elevated water storage tank to comply with a bilateral compliance agreement with the Mississippi Department of Health.
The funding will also be used to evaluate and make repairs to the town's wastewater system.
For project engineer Ryan Cassada of Gardner Engineering it is an exciting moment.
"Just to paint the water tank will cost about $150,000. Because it is such an expensive job, most towns and cities try to get grant funding to do it. We have actually been trying to get funding for this tank project for over five years. It passes all quality tests and has the capacity that the city needs. It is out of compliance and it needs to be updated though so we will be sandblasting and completely repainting it," said Cassada.
Structurally the tank is fine, however to prevent rust or any sort of damage, towns are required to perform regular maintenance on water storage facilities. In addition to repainting the water tank, the city is planning an overall update to its water and sewer systems.
"There are two wells and two pumping stations that we already know will need work on. We will also be rehabbing the water pipes that need it. There will be an evaluation of the sewer system to determine what repairs need to be made. For example, there may be holes that needed to be fixed in some of the lines," said Cassada.
Part of the wear and tear on the sewer lines comes from rainwater.
"These sewer lines are aging and in addition to that, they are full of rainwater. The lines aren't running properly because they're already full of water. When that happens it can create a lot of problems so we need to get in there and clear out those lines because it's hard for the residents to do what they need to do," said Cassada.
There are a few ways that Cassada and other engineers can address the issues with the water lines.
"We will actually run a television camera down all of the lines to see where there are blockages and breaks in the lines. Then, depending on the problem we determine what type of repair to do. We can do point repairs which is a technique where you dig down to the damaged part of the line and fix the pipe from above. We can also use a lining system that cures in place and you end up with one continuous lining for the pipe without having to dig. It just depends on what we need for that area," explained Cassada.
All of this is still a ways off however.
"I would say we are about a year and half out from construction completion on this project. Right now we are still working on the design portion. Once we have the designs for all of the repairs, rehabs and updates we submit them to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Health Department for review.
"After we have their approval for our designs, we advertise for bids. Then there will be about a month or two for bonding and then we are looking at about nine months to a year of construction. It's going to take some time but it will be worth it in the end," said Cassada.
Cassada is not the only one who sees the value in the time and money being invested into the project.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, voted in May to advance the 2019 Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill for consideration by the full Senate.
This measure recommended an additional $825 million for infrastructure investments in rural America. Overall, the bill contains $1.15 billion for the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program, $800 million for water and waste grants and $19 million for the Circuit Rider program.
"Water infrastructure that is up to modern standards is important to the quality of life in rural communities, and pivotal in attracting and sustaining economic growth," said Hyde-Smith in a recent press release. "I'm pleased USDA Rural Development is investing in Mississippi, where need remains significant throughout the state."