City of Winchester Moves Into Next Phase of Water Main Replacement Project

By Benjamin Cox on August 9, 2022 at 6:34pm

The City of Winchester has moved on to the second phase of procuring funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to replace and upgrade water mains.

The Winchester City Council approved a preliminary engineering agreement with Benton & Associates back in February.

Municipal Engineer Greg Hillis says the city has moved onto the next step of providing a full application for a matching grant and a low-interest loan to complete the $3.4 million project: “You submitted the Preliminary Engineering Request some time back [in February]. Before this month’s Winchester City Council meeting, the city did get the full invitation to apply for USDA grant. The full invite is for the full application for the programs. The PER was just a pre-application. The city is now selected to submit a full application. It does not mean the city is obligated anything, but it is looking good for the city and the USDA grant/loan program.”

Hillis says much of the application needs to be completed before the end of the calendar year because of a new Buy America-Build America (BABA) requirements signed into law in November: “We are trying to get the application done before the first of the year because of the BABA requirements. If we can have all of this paperwork in and you can get obligated before the first of the year, you do not have to meet those requirements. It’s a good requirement, but it is going to increase the costs. If we can get this done and get going, we do not have to meet the requirements of BABA.”

Hillis says while it is good in concept, it changes the landscape of the ability to procure materials for a project of this scope and size. It also significantly increases waiting times on material availability and costs.

Hillis went on to say that the city would be saving close to $10,000 on the project because most of the land will not need environmental studies because it’s already on previously disturbed land that had previously been surveyed. Hillis says the $10,000 would be held into a different portion of the construction phase of the project.

Hillis says the timeline and the scope of the project will be determined upon the amount of funding the USDA grants and loans to the city for the project.