In the last couple of years if you came up on a major waterline break on Kinney’s Lane, in addition to your obvious frustration of having to take a detour, you may have also said – “Something’s got to be done about this happening again and again.” Now, that’s the plan – a $3 million plan.
Upon city council approval, the city of Portsmouth intends to apply for funding for what will be known as the Sunrise Reservoir Main Replacement project.
On Friday (June 10), the City Waterworks Director Sam Sutherland, Community Development Director Tracy Shearer, and City Manager Derek K. Allen traveled to Columbus and made a presentation to apply for $2 million of Army Corps 594 funds. The primary objective of the Section 594 Program is to provide design and construction assistance to non-Federal interests for carrying out water-related environmental infrastructure and resource protection and development projects in the state of Ohio.
“It’s our intent to get $2 million of grant funding to the city of Portsmouth for the replacement of this (water) line,” Allen said. “We’ve been in discussion for several weeks now about applying for Appalachian Regional Commission or ARC funding, making application to the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) for Issue 2 (called Issue 1 now) money. Also our CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) formula money.”
Allen said the city is applying for $500,000 in CDBG funding, a new revenue source the city had not tapped into before.
He said it was during the presentation the city found out in order to qualify and to push it forward, the project had to be designed, but since the city does not have $200,000 readily available in it’s Water Fund, it will need to apply for an Ohio Water Development Authority (OWDA) planning, or design, loan. The application is due July 1, 2016 and the current interest rate for OWDA planning loan assistance is approximately three percent.
“Our intent is not to turn this into a loan, but to use it as an advance,” Allen said. “Then, when we get the grant we can refund the money that we’re borrowing.” He said the city’s intent is to replace the waterline with all grant funding.
The project consists of over a mile of 30-inch waterline, the line that feeds the Sunrise Reservoir which has a 22-million gallon capacity.
“This is the pipe that has broken on numerous occasions – has broken three times in the last year,” Allen said. “To give you a perspective of what it takes when that thing bursts, last year it burst on Kinney’s Lane, and it floated a block of pavement. This year it blew on Kinney’s Lane the night of a Council meeting. I stopped by and talked to the guys on site at 9 o’clock after our Council meeting and when I got up the next morning I drove over Sunrise to see how it looked and they were just climbing out of the hole. They had been there all night.” The same line also burst on Offnere Street requiring crews to work.
Allen said the federal year to apply for funding is Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017. Applying for state funding, the year is July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. “We’re also trying to find other sources that follow the calendar year,” Allen said.
“If we wouldn’t secure grants, then we would be out this,” Third Ward Councilman Kevin E. Johnson said.
“We have to fix this waterline,” Allen responded. “Our position is to obtain zero-interest loans. You’re still paying the principle back but we’re trying to get to the point that we’re getting free money, not paying anything back.”
“And it does look pretty promising?” Johnson asked. “I know you can’t look in the future.”
“The income level of the community, as low as it is compared to the state average and where our water and sewer rates are, and we’re trying some political avenues also, I would say it is better than a 50/50 chance,” Allen said.
The number one priority in the city’s waterline replacement project will be to rehabilitate 5,200 linear feet of the 30-inch main located along Sunrise Avenue. That main, according to Allen is 100 years old and breaks frequently which makes it costly to repair, also causing water shortages to residences and businesses.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.