Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities Department has been made eligible for a $20 million loan toward renovating the Nielson water treatment plant in Clemmons, the governor’s office said Tuesday.
It is the lone local water and sewer project approved for a loan out of 18 projects in the Triad and Northwest North Carolina. The overall water and sewer state funding for the region is $61.3 million.
“North Carolina’s communities need resilient, viable water infrastructure systems to support economic development," Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement.
"Funding these projects helps counties and towns with aging water infrastructure deliver clean, safe water to attract new jobs and keep people healthy."
The Nielson plant currently can process about 48 million gallons of water daily from the Yadkin River.
The other main project made eligible for a loan involves Davie County gaining $21.1 million to expand its Cooleemee Water Treatment Plant, promoting regionalization and replace Mocksville’s Lagle Water Treatment Plant.
The grants and loans are funded through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, Clean Water State Revolving Fund, the Drinking Water and Wastewater State Reserve programs, and through the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019.
Also made eligible for loans were the following municipalities and government entities: Eden ($7.16 million); Reidsville ($4.65 million); Asheboro ($2.7 million); Yadkin Valley Sewer Authority ($2.22 million); Trinity ($1.35 million); Sparta ($1.55 million); Liberty ($150,000); Rockingham County ($150,000); Mayodan ($140,000); and Archdale ($135,000).
The authority also approved the distressed unit designation for Ronda and Wilkesboro.
They are among the latest four towns to receive that designation, as well as the first in the Triad and Northwest N.C. There have been eight towns designated to date.
Designations are based on distressed unit criteria approved by the authority at its November meeting and developed in collaboration with the Local Government Commission.
According to the state treasurer's office, the designation could allow the towns to qualify for funding to develop long-term solutions for their water and wastewater systems.
Legislation describes a distressed unit as “a public water system or wastewater system operated by a local government unit exhibiting signs of failure to identify or address those financial or operating needs necessary to enable that system to become or to remain a local government unit generating sufficient revenues to adequately fund management and operations, personnel, appropriate levels of maintenance, and reinvestment that facilitate the provision of reliable water or wastewater services.”
Units identified as distressed are required to undertake a number of measures to assess and remedy the deficiencies within their utility system.
The Viable Utility Reserve fund has been appropriated $9 million that may be allocated to local governments to fulfill these requirements, including conducting rate studies, asset inventories and assessments.
The criteria were used to evaluate 496 local government units with water and/or sewer systems. This determination is an important first step in a closer evaluation of the utility’s status.
“Many municipalities are struggling, and that struggle is symptomatic of the overall condition of the rural economy and the challenges of managing aging infrastructure issues and associated costs," said Kim Colson, authority chair and director of the Division of Water Infrastructure.
"The number of units that initially met the criteria is indicative of the significant need for funding.”