GARLAND — The town of Garland has been notified that its application to the state for some combination of grant and loan funds totaling nearly $300,000 to develop a comprehensive water meter replacement project will not include an additionally proposed well rehabilitation — and has been decreased as a result.
In September, the Garland Board of Commissioners approved moving forward with a state loan application that would bring sweeping improvements to the town’s aging drinking water system through a rehabilitation project and installation of a fixed-based automated meter reading network. A well rehab was also included.
Leo Green Jr., engineer for Green Engineering PLLC in Wilson, presented the opportunity to the board, touting the benefits such a state award would have for Garland and the lack of obligation by the town.
The actual base construction total for the proposed project was just over $200,000. Green Engineering has proposed to develop plans and implement the construction for a fixed base radio meter system network, to include 380 residential meters and a couple bulk meters. Engineering, administration and contingency costs tacked on another $80,000 for a total of $286,300. The well rehab accounted for roughly $48,000 of the project.
Garland mayor Winifred Murphy said this week the application amount came down because a portion was not deemed shovel-ready.
“In order for the applications to be eligible for immediate funding, it needed to be designed, permitted and all proper environmental impacts done,” said Murphy. While the bulk of the project is OK, the pump houses and their rehabilitation did not meet the criteria as “ready to proceed,” the mayor noted.
Its elimination meant the application amount was decreased from $286,000 to about $240,000, to include only the meter replacement and related work. Corrosion in pump houses and well rehabilitation was initially set to accompany the comprehensive meter replacement program, however that will no longer be the case.
“I know when we did this we were concerned about the aging of our wells, not just our meters,” Murphy said, “but at some point we can move forward with (the wells).”
A water loss analysis by Green Engineering showed the town is losing an average of 14 percent of water being pumped out of those wells.
“This project would take all those meters out and put brand new meters in and hopefully reduce that 14 percent down to around 5 percent,” Green has said. “That 14 percent of your revenue is a big amount of money at the end of the year. Your revenues could be drastically improved by a meter replacement program.”
He estimated that approximately $40,000 in revenue a year would be found by detecting water leaks and loss. The high-tech system would also provide an easy method with which to monitor water use and loss.
Through the projects, all meters would be read at Town Hall, negating the need to send somebody out every time it is believed there is a water leak. The town also sells water to the county with no master meter, rendering the town incapable of recovering revenue from leaks, flushing and breaks that may occur from that connection.
Similar benefits would be seen on the sewer side, Green has noted.
“Because the town has a sewer system, this new metering system will enhance the revenue potential for that service as well,” said Green. “This total meter change change-out project will provide both energy savings and water conservation through a sustainable management tool. This system will also improve customer service utilizing the data collector feature, which will allow billing staff to trend and provide reports for consumers to evaluate their own internal water loss and use on a daily basis.”
Murphy pointed out that, even if the application, filed as part of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund funded annually by the Environmental Protection Agency, is successful, there is no immediate obligation by the town.
“Even if it is approved,” said Murphy, “it still does not mean we have to accept this.”
Green has already assured the town that the application, if approved, will not consist of 100 percent grant funding.
At the end of the year, a list will be sent out of all projects applied for and which were approved. Those approved projects can be financed over a maximum of 20 years and may also be offset by up to 80 percent in grant funds based on eligibility, with need, ability to pay, poverty rate and median household income among the considered criteria.
Commissioner Ralph Smith noted the tight deadline Green presented to the commissioners in September regarding the application. He said, regardless of any modifications, it was important the board see the process through before ultimately coming to a decision about whether to fund it or not.
“We probably need to let it go on until we see what happens,” Smith said.
The project is anticipated to begin 90 days after state funding is approved and will be completed in 120 days.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.