LaFayette awarded $450,000 for water plant improvements

Published 3:36 pm Thursday, January 20, 2022

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On Thursday, the City of LaFayette received $450,000 from the Alabama governor’s office in Montgomery during a ceremony in which grants were given to multiple towns, cities and counties. The money the City of LaFayette received is from an ADECA grant and will be used to improve the city’s water plant, according to LaFayette Mayor Kenneth Vines.

“I know there are some things we already kind of mentioned that we’ll try to use it for — a pump, a generator and stuff like that,” Vines said.

Vines said will the city follow the advice of Katie Hill, Alabama Rural Water Association director of training and apprenticeship coordinator, who reviewed the results of an evaluation of the city’s water system at a city council meeting last month. Vines said the city hasn’t made any of the changes she recommended yet, as it didn’t have enough money to do so.

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Hill had said the water plant’s lime feeder desperately needed to be replaced.

“I believe that’s one of the issues that may be causing some of the dirty water complaints,” she had said. “A mixture of that along with some things that are going on in the distribution system are probably going to be the most prominent cause of the actual dirty water.”

Hill had also said the plant needed to replace its filter turbidimeters. When they get damaged, she had explained, the plant will have five days to repair them, and the parts for its current turbidimeters aren’t made anymore.

While the plant had one flocculator, Hill had said, a rule from 2006 says that the city can’t make any major upgrades to its water plant until it has at least two flocculators. Hill had said a new flocculator would cost a minimum of $100,000.

The plant was designed in 1982, according to Hill.

Vines said the city needs more money than the grant will provide to fix the plant entirely and that the city may use money from the American Rescue Plan Act to bridge the gap.

“Preventative maintenance hasn’t been done in the past … instead of waiting for a problem to happen, we can already take care of some of these things where the problem won’t happen,” he said.

The city applied for the grant around April or May 2021, Vines said.

Vines said the City of LaFayette plans to raise water fees to help balance its budget. He said the water distribution system has been operating in the negative. He said the issue will probably be mentioned at the upcoming council meeting on Monday, Jan. 24.

Gov. Kay Ivey awarded a total of $18.2 million to various communities during the Thursday ceremony to provide improvements in more than 50 Alabama towns, cities and counties, according to a press release from her office.

The Community Development Block Grants will enable local governments to provide public water service to households, repair damaged streets and roads, improve sewer systems, improve drainage and more.

“Community Development Block Grants are a means in which local governments can address some of their more pressing needs,” Ivey said. “I am pleased to award these grants, and I commend those local officials who recognized those needs and took the time and effort to seek an answer through this grant program.”

The CDBG program in Alabama is awarded annually on a competitive basis in several categories: small city (population 2,999 or less), large city (population 3,000 or more), county and community enhancement. Additionally, planning grants are awarded to help local governments examine and address needs.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants from funds made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“ADECA is pleased to join with Gov. Ivey in this grant program that annually helps Alabama towns, cities and counties obtain financial assistance for projects that benefit their communities,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “We look forward to seeing the positive impacts that these projects have on the quality of life for residents of these communities.”