Sewer South— The Sewer South project is still in a holding pattern after the bids came in much higher than expected. The council recently voted to request an additional $2.55 million dollars in grant money from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), and the Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA). If awarded, the grant money would cover the budget shortfall for sewer south project.
The county has a strong chance of receiving the grants as the state is focused on infrastructure due to the amount of federal covid cash that has flooded the state. The state still has $580 million left over from the American Rescue Plan Act and the state is sending $380 million of that to the RIA, which is an addition to the $800 million sent to the agency last year for water and sewer. I fully expect the county’s request for an additional $2.55 million in grants to be fulfilled.
Back in 2018, the EDA and RIA awarded the county ~$4.7 million in grants for the sewer south project.
One idea Councilman Glenn Hart proposed at the recent OJRSA annual meeting is to possibly reduce cost by re-biding the project into smaller bids, to break the project up into smaller projects that can be bid on separately. The smaller projects would be something smaller local contractors could bid on, something they could handle. For instance breaking the project up in to three bids, one for the pump stations, one for laying the pipe, and one for boring under lake Hartwell. The lake bore undoubtedly scared off local contractors. I’ve been told that many local contractors have agreed to work as subcontractors under the firm with the winning bid. I agree with Mr. Hart, cut out the middle man and make the bids small enough so that local firms can tackle them.
There was also a special presentation given to council about the Fair Play Basin study. The study highlights the benefits of partnering with Anderson county for a joint sewer plant because you could have a mostly gravity flow system, which is much cheaper to operate and maintain long term. Unfortunately, the previous council majority was not even interested in entertaining discussions with Anderson county, thereby missing the time table for some key infrastructure grants. But hindsight is 20/20 and unfortunately we do not have the luxury to live in hindsight, we must keep moving forward. There still may be opportunities to partner with our neighbors in Anderson in the future.
You can view the slides of the Basin Study HERE