Chambers Co. awarded grant for stormwater management projects

Published 10:30 am Thursday, November 9, 2023

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Chambers County was awarded a grant of $187,365.63 for stormwater management projects throughout the county. The grant would be used for projects to improve the conveyance of stormwater on the county’s roads.  

The resolution to authorize the agreement with The Alabama Department of Environmental Management, which is administrating the grants, was approved by the Chambers County County Commission at Monday’s meeting. 

The projects are quickly getting underway. Materials have been ordered and work on the first project is planned to begin next week. It will be replacing culverts on 51st Avenue SW. The avenue connects the Lanett Municipal Aiport and Cusseta Road. 

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All the proposed stormwater projects are for the replacement of pipe culverts. A culvert refers to a type of enclosed tunnel built under a road or railway, often used as a channel for water to pass through. They are essentially large pipes. Materials to make them are typically concrete and steel. 

“Culvert problems have always been and are always a challenge for the county. So when the ARPA money in some of all those funds were made available for making stormwater improvements, that allowed us to get to some that we may not have gotten otherwise just because of how costly they were,” said Chambers County Engineer, Josh Harvill.

The county has multiple culverts that need to be fixed or in need of replacement. These outdated or pipes could be disastrous for the citizens and businesses of Chambers if left unchecked. Rain can back up onto private property flooding homes and land. Water can also go up from the culverts and over the roads, washing them out and leading to closures. 

“Sometimes that happens…Mother Nature wins. But these sites that we’ve identified had the history of those issues, or based on inspections we’ve done, we foresee those being the issues in the future,” Harvill said.

The grant covers material costs for these stormwater management projects. This could be used for expenses like replacement pipes or asphalt, among other things. The county covers the cost of labor and equipment to install the materials, which Harvill points out, they would have had to do regardless of the grant. 

“It’s a win-win for us. The grant is what it would cost out of our budget that’s not already budgeted, which is that material,” he said.

The funding for these grants, and others like it, come from the American Rescue Plan Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, a part of the 2021 federal stimulus bill (ARPA) enacted to help bolster the post-COVID economy. 

The state allocated a portion of those ARPA funds for county use. ADEM is matching grants of up to $150,000. The county applied for over $180,000 and was awarded the grant. 

“This is a great opportunity from both our state legislature and the federal government to address critical infrastructure issues through the ARPA funds. These projects may not have been addressed otherwise,” Harvill said.