The director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and the Southeast Region’s administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined state and local officials at a signing ceremony Friday in Hayneville to kick off a $10 million project to repair and upgrade the town’s sewer system.
The funding is part of $463 million awarded by ADEM in 2022 to public drinking water and sewer systems in the state through a state initiative to repair and upgrade old, failing and overwhelmed water and sewer systems. In addition to the $10 million for sewer work in Hayneville, ADEM also awarded the town $2.9 million for improvements to its drinking water system.
“We are absolutely delighted to be able to provide this much-needed funding to the town and its residents,” ADEM Director Lance LeFleur said. “The town has significant sewer and water needs that can have direct effect on residents’ health and well-being. Meeting those and other infrastructure needs in Lowndes County was a priority for the Department.”
Hayneville is not alone among Lowndes County communities awarded funding last year by ADEM. The Town of Lowndesboro will receive $1 million for water system improvements, and the Lowndes County Water Authority will receive $735,000. In addition, ADEM awarded $2.2 million to the Department of Public Health for a demonstration project in Lowndes County using special septic systems designed to cope with the dense soil in the Black Belt region that often makes conventional septic systems ineffective.
“Assistance to disadvantaged and underserved communities like those in the Black Belt is critical,” said Daniel Blackman, EPA Region 4 Administrator. “This BIL (Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) Funding will finance the restoration of Hayneville’s sanitary sewer collection system to reduce the widespread and constant exposure to raw sewage and provide them with clean and safe access to sanitary sewer systems.”
Hayneville Mayor Jimmy Davis said the $10 million will be used to overhaul the town’s sewer system, including replacing sewer lines.
“Our sewer system is failing,” Davis said. “We’re a small town, and we don’t have the money to even think about a project like this. This money means everything to our town. I am overjoyed for our residents who have had to go without adequate sewer service, but will soon get a sewer system they deserve.”
Funding for drinking water and sewer projects statewide is coming from multiple sources, including federal COVID relief dollars designated for that use by Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Legislature. In a special session called by Gov. Ivey in January 2022. Ivey, lawmakers approved spending $225 million out of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to help public water and sewer systems with the greatest infrastructure needs.
ADEM is supplementing the $225 million with other federal and state funds. The Department expects to receive $765 million over the next five years ($137 million annually) from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed by Congress in 2021, and is combining that with more than $100 million in grants and loans through the State Revolving Fund (SRF).
For more information about the state’s drinking water and sewer initiative, go online to www.alabamawaterprojects.com. You can also access information through ADEM’s website, www.adem.alabama.gov, under the “ARPA/SRF Updates” button.