Federal stimulus money helps back water and sewer projects in Cobb, Gwinnett counties

By KRISTI E. SWARTZ
kswartz@ajc.com

Sewer tunnels in Cobb and Gwinnett counties are among $91.5 million in water and sewer projects statewide that the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority approved at its board meeting Tuesday.
Of the 11 projects, five of which are at least partially backed by federal stimulus money. Gov. Sonny Perdue has approved that money — $40.5 million — for use, his office said late Tuesday.
The 11 projects are to help pay for water and sewer infrastructure projects in Cobb and Gwinnett counties as well as Colquitt County. Cities receiving the money are Camilla, Hiawassee, Port Wentworth, Portal, Sparta, Stillmore, Valdosta and West Point.
“Investment in infrastructure creates jobs, promotes economic development and increases our citizens’ quality of life,” Perdue said in a statement. “Improving public health and safety is critical to a community’s economic growth and prosperity.”
President Barack Obama last week praised a list of economic stimulus-related projects that would create of save 600,000 jobs over the next 100 days. Many of the projects under the new “Roadmap to Recovery” plan — at least for Georgia — are more mundane, basic government projects such as the ones GEFA approved Tuesday.
GEFA has $144 million in federal money, including about $121 million in stimulus funds to use on projects in 2009, spokesman Shane Hix said. The agency may commit all of the money to projects as early as August, Hix said.
“The goal of the stimulus is to get the money out there as quickly as possible, and we’re trying to get that done,” Hix said Tuesday.
GEFA set up rural and non-rural funding streams to administer stimulus money, Hix said. Rural projects receive a 70 percent subsidy, and non-rural, or basically metro-area projects, receive a 40 percent subsidy.
Cobb County will receive at $35 million loan, $10 million of which is from federal stimulus money, to pay for building a 30,000-foot sewer tunnel as well as a lift station at the South Cobb Water Reclamation Facility. Once complete, the lift station will move 130 million gallons of water a day.
Gwinnett County’s project, a $55 million sewer tunnel that will store wastewater for the No Business Creek Regional Pump Station, is also backed by stimulus money.

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