The money is available through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan program.
“We raised water rates six to eight months ago to be able to pay for the loan,” Mayor Rusty Jessup said. “We’re geared up for it.”
Jessup said he anticipates the council will approve the loan so repairs and upgrades to the water system can move forward.
“We have to upgrade,” he said. “It has to be done.”
The water rate increase went into effect in January after the council approved the increase in December 2012.
Jessup said the increase brought Riverside water rates closer to that of neighboring cities of similar size and will help provide funds for upgrades to the city’s water system.
ADEM posted notice of availability of the SRF loan Friday, and that it would accept comments on the proposed project for the next 30 days beginning Oct. 3.
“In accordance with state and federal regulations that govern the program, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management has conducted a review to assess the potential impacts upon the environment that may result from implementation of this project,” according to ADEM’s notice of Categorical Exclusion from Environmental Review. “…The Alabama Department of Environmental Management has determined that the project qualifies for Categorical Exclusion (CE) from further environmental study under the guidelines specified by the State Environmental Review Process (SERP), which specifically include actions which are solely directed toward minor rehabilitation of existing facilities, functional replacement of equipment, or towards the construction of new ancillary facilities adjacent or appurtenant to existing facilities. However, this decision may be reconsidered if significant adverse information concerning the potential environmental impacts of the project is discovered.”
According to the notice, Riverside is proposing water system improvements consisting of replacing all exiting manual-read water meters with wireless, remote-read meters, including ancillary software and hardware, replacing approximately 20,000 linear feet of deteriorated water mains and installing remote monitoring equipment for its existing wells and storage tanks.
“Completion of these improvements will assist the city’s efforts in reducing water loss and energy costs,” the notice states. “In addition, this project will also provide for increased water conservation while ensuring sufficient water supply during peak water demand and, ultimately, a more efficient water system.”
Jessup said Riverside currently averages four water leaks a week, and the water meters are outdated.
He said with the money, the city will be able to set up monitor alerts so that when there is a water pressure problem or a water tank is running low, property officials are immediately notified through a security alert system.
Jessup said they have had power failures at wells and before city officials realized it, water tanks ran empty.
“It would take us a half-day to fill them back up,” he said. “That happens frequently.”
He said the priority is to replace water meters. He said the city would use the rest of the money on line replacement.
Jessup said the council would probably vote on accepting the SRF loan at its November or December meeting.
“We won’t actually get the money until next spring,” he said.
Jessup said the water rate increase will give the city about $60,000 a year so it can pay off the $1.2 million loan in 20 years.
Contact David Atchison at firstname.lastname@example.org.