City Receives Official State Approval for Grant, Loan Toward Sewer Plant Rehab

By Jeremy Coumbes on August 23, 2023 at 10:49am

The City of Jacksonville is officially getting a hand from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to stay in compliance with wastewater regulations.

The IEPA announced this week the recipients of more than half a billion dollars in water infrastructure loans to local governments and water districts for the fourth quarter of the 2023 fiscal year.

The funds are made available through the Illinois EPA State Revolving Loan Program which provides low-interest loans to fund wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water projects.

The City of Jacksonville has been granted just over $17 million for the wastewater treatment plant in the city’s ongoing effort to update the aging system and bring it up to compliance with all state and federal regulations.

Earlier this year it was announced the city was not only approved for the low-interest loan but that also a portion of the principal would be forgiven in the form of a grant.

Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard says, that although the city knew the funds had been awarded, it is nice to have it official. “It’s always good to see it in writing on their letterhead. We did anticipate this principal forgiveness which is basically a grant towards our sewer project. It’s around seventeen million and we were able to capture two point six million in grant money which is basically fifteen percent of the project, so we’re happy.

Again, it’s the workings of Benton and Associates who do a wonderful job for us- Jamie Headen and his staff. It’s also the relationships we have in Springfield in regards to the City of Jacksonville and the different departments over there.”

The funds will allow the city to construct two coarse mechanical bar screens, six influent pumps, two fine screens, one grit removal chamber, one Parshall flume, and all the necessary accessories for the equipment to be integrated into the wastewater plant.

Ezard says the grant amount combined with the low-interest loan will save city residents considerably. “We did receive the maximum allowable grant, so that’s really good and just adds on to keeping our water rates very competitive. With a lot of things brewing with the start-up of the project and having the pre-conference meeting with the contractor, Plocher Construction out of Highland, so it looks like it’s a go.”

Ezard says the rehabilitation project will be handled differently and over a longer period of time than the recent water treatment plant project. “You have to do the sewer plant a little bit different than the water plant for the rehab versus a new facility. Logistics-wise the original water plant was right down the hill and we were able to switch it off and basically throw some valves and start up the new water plant. And the sewer plant just doesn’t work that way.

We’re going to take the phased approach for our sewer plant, which is aging, and it’s going to be drawn out in probably five to ten years. However, once that is completed it will be good for many years into the future.”

The project was bumped up this year and thereby was able to qualify for a lower rate of interest of just under 1%.