USDA awards $5.6 million grant and $1.9 million loan for Fort Deposit sewer improvements

Published 11:25 am Friday, October 6, 2017

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

The Fort Deposit Water Works and Sewer Board has been granted a $5.6 million grant and a $1.9 million loan by the United States Department of Agriculture to improve the sewer system in the area.

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Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell announced the USDA grant that goes along with the $1,9 million loan on Thursday, Oct. 5. And Peter Hiebel, Fort Deposit’s Water Works Board chairman,  said, “We have worked long and hard to secure this grant.”

According to Sewell, the improvements will enable the system to adequately supply a greater number of customers with sewer service and will improve the reliability of the existing sewer service to the present customers.

She also said these improvements will create a healthier living environment for the community as well as promote economic development.

“This is outstanding news for the families of Fort Deposit. Proper sewage systems are essential infrastructure to any community. Obtaining funding for water and sewer improvements in the Black Belt has been a top priority of our office,” Sewell said. “With this grant, residents in Fort Deposit will be able to receive the help and support that is so desperately needed. Life without a working sewage system is a problem no one in modern America should ever have to face.”

Fort Deposit Mayor Fletcher Fountain, “We are excited to see Fort Deposit (Water Works and Sewer Board) selected as the recipient of this grant.” He said, “For residents in the area, this money is like Christmas in October and we are eager to get this project underway, offering critical assistance to the families of Fort Deposit.”

Hiebel explained that the award is actually both a USDA grant and a loan.  “I wish to express my deep appreciation for the support of Congresswoman Sewell.” He said the USDA grant and loan will offer the hope of an improved economic future for Fort Deposit.

Hiebel said the grant and loan are to the Fort Deposit Water Works and Sewer Board and that the loan will be repaired by board.

Fountain  said a study has been conducted and work will be done in areas of the town that don’t have sewer and on the existing lines and pumps. And he said the project will continue across Interstate 65.

And Heibel said the $5.6 million grant and $1.9 million loan to the Fort Deposit Water Works and Sewer Board is for water and sewer expansion and repairs.

He said, “The Grant (and loan) will fund installation of sewer services to the Fort Deposit I-65 interstate exit.” And he said, “The installation of sewer services at the I-65 exit will enhance the desirability of the Fort Deposit Interstate exit for economic development and investment.”

He also said, “Economic development at the interstate will offer new employment opportunities to the citizens of Fort Deposit” and that the grant and loan “will also fund needed repairs to the existing sewer system which will ensure future environmental conditions compliance. “

Hiebel said, “The support of Congresswoman Sewell has been instrumental in obtaining grant approval.” He said the Fort Deposit Water Works and Sewer Board “could never have negotiated the maze of federal government grant requirements without the hands-on guidance and assistance of the local USDA Office in Camden.”

He also thanked the firm of Goodwin Mills and Cawood Inc. for technical engineering expertise.

Heibel said, “A date for groundbreaking and the start of construction has not been set. Approval of the Grant application is the first step in a long process. Together, we must now implement the design plan to insure the future of the citizens of Fort Deposit.”