By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council unanimously approved two resolutions seeking grant funding from the State of North Carolina during their April 11th, meeting to fund water and sewer infrastructure improvements on Harper, Wilson, Lumberton, and Florence Avenues from Lake Park Blvd. to 4th Street and 3rd Street from Harper Avenue to Goldsboro Avenue. Funding is available through the NC Division of Water Infrastructure - State Reserve Projects Program as part the Connect NC bond.
According to Project Manager Jerry Haire, "Another round of funding is available through the NC Division of Water Infrastructure - State Reserve Projects Program as part the Connect NC bond. Water and wastewater improvement projects will be evaluated based on need in the following categories in order of priority."
Those include failing systems, rehab and replacement of systems and expanded infrastructure.
Haire explained, "Following need evaluation, projects will be scored based on local utilities operating ratios of revenues verses expenditures and local economic criteria to determine whether funding will be in the form of grants, loans or a combination of both. Match requirements will also be based on these ratios and criteria. Funding maximums are $3 million per jurisdiction over a 3 year period. Water and wastewater projects must be submitted in separate applications."
Haire said in February the Town was approved for a low interest loan through the same program for water improvements on the North End of Town for $1,273,216 with an interest rate not to exceed 1.53%. The proposed project budget request would utilize the remaining allowable balance of the $3 million maximum.
He explained, "The proposed drinking water system project is for a part of the scheduled Phase-C Infrastructure Project for replacement of approximately 5,220 linear feet of water lines and associated infrastructure along Harper, Wilson, Lumberton, and Florence Avenues from Lake Park Blvd. to 4th Street and 3rd Street from Harper Avenue to Goldsboro Avenue. The water system located within the project area is comprised of pipe sizes ranging from 2 to 8 inches and includes cast iron, PVC and galvanized iron pipes. The water system serving the project is approximately 50 years old and has degraded over time due material deterioration as well as localized or point damage from activities such as construction, installation of underground utilities, and storm damage. Tuberculation, corrosion, and buildup of water impurities within the project area has created water quality issues and contributes to water pressure and flow issues that exist within the system."
The total cost estimate is $1,726,000. Any approved funding would offset the need to utilize municipal bond monies for the project.
The Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution seeking funding for the project. They also voted on a similar resolution for replacing aging sewer infrastructure along the same streets.
Haire explained, "In February the Town was approved for a low interest loan through this program for wastewater improvements on the North End for $1,657,654 with an interest rate not to exceed 1.53%. The proposed project budget request would utilize the remaining allowable balance of the $3 million maximum. The proposed wastewater project is for the replacement of approximately 2,278 linear feet of gravity sanitary sewer and associated infrastructure along Goldsboro, Wilson, Lumberton,and Florence Avenues from Lake Park Blvd. to 3rd Street and 3rd Street from Harper Avenue Goldsboro Avenue. The project will address operational issues associated with pipe slopes less than minimum standards and with inflow and infiltration (I&I) due to system deterioration and failure. The sanitary sewer system serving the project is approximately 50 years old and is comprised of pipe sizes from 4 to 10 inches vitrified clay pipe. In general, the collection system is in a state of deterioration and failure due to component degradation from age and damage occurring as a result of use in a coastal environment."
He explained, "This condition has created significant I&I issues," following heavey rainfall, "leading to sink holes exposing the gravity sewer lines, undermining roadway surfaces and creating conditions where sanitary sewer spills or sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) can occur. The project will benefit 95 service connections."
The total cost estimate is $1,342,000.
The Council approved the sale of Revenue Bonds not to exceed $35 million dollars during their May 10th, 2016 meeting and then voted to raise monthly water and sewer rates each by 11.5% per month. They also voted to raise storm water fees by $2 per month. The Town says the $35 million dollars of Revenue Bonds will fund a portion of a long-term infrastructure improvement plan replacing aging water, sewer and storm water lines throughout Town. That would improve water quality, replacing older sewer lines and help address storm water runoff and flooding issues in the area including flooding of properties surrounding the Carolina Beach Lake following intense storm events.
If the Town is awarded the funding from these two State grants, that will offset the need to sell more bonds in the future to pay for this portion of the multi-phase water and sewer infrastructure project.