Georgia Communities Receive Infrastructure Loans Totalling $73 Million

August 26, 2014

ATLANTA – Nineteen Georgia communities were awarded financing totaling $72,680,313 for water, sewer, solid waste and wastewater infrastructure improvements by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) board of directors today.

The communities include the towns of Bowersville and Braselton; the cities of Baldwin, Clayton, LaGrange, Port Wentworth, Richland, Savannah, Scotland, and Tallapoosa; Decatur, Monroe, Paulding, Towns and Twiggs Counties; the Carroll County Water Authority, Etowah Water & Sewer Authority, Hart County Water and Sewer Utility Authority, and Lumpkin County Water & Sewerage Authority.

For more information and a list of approved loans, click here.

America's aging water infrastructure raises safety concerns

By Mark Strassmann, CBS News

August 9, 2014

ATLANTA - There were unexpected showers outside Boston on Saturday. A ruptured water main in Brookline sent a plume of water 80 feet into the air. The break occurred just blocks away from a reservoir.

Saturday's break is only the latest in a series of mishaps - some far more serious - that are raising questions about the safety of aging water systems in this country.

Atlanta's water needs in 2014 rely on a system designed in 1875, and built piecemeal ever since.

"Our water treatment plant, for example, was built in 1893. So our pipes that are part of that drinking water system were also built in 1893," said Jo Ann Macrina, Atlanta's watershed commissioner. "Some of those pipes are still made out of wood and those pipes are being replaced as time goes on," she said. "We always have to try to be ahead of the game and project out what we need to replace and also make sure we know how to respond in cases of emergencies."

Decrepit water lines can fail. The one that ruptured in Los Angeles last week was installed in 1921. Then there's the risk from outside contaminants, such as the algae toxins in Lake Erie, and a chemical spill in West Virginia last January. It left 300,000 people without drinking water for 10 days.

Atlanta's water needs in 2014 rely on a system designed in 1875, and built piecemeal ever since.

The American Society of Civil Engineers last year studied America's drinking and wastewater infrastructure, from its capacity and overall condition to public safety, and gave it a grade of "D."

A top priority is replacing decrepit pipes, which helps keep out contaminants from rivers and lakes.

"It's one of those things that's out of sight, out of mind," said Mae Wu, who works for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group.

"The estimates are that we need at least $16 billion every year just to maintain and replace the pipes," she said.

Atlanta has 1,600 miles of pipe, and needs to repair or replace 10 percent of them in the next five years.

The city's new $350 million water project includes expanding its emergency water supply by another 30 days.

Right now, Atlanta's emergency supply would only last three to five days.

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WRRDA will enable Savannah dredging project to go ahead

News - June 13, 2014

Savannah Now reports that now that President Obama has signed HR 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, the plan to dredge to deepen Port of Savannah can go ahead.

"With the stroke of a presidential pen...15 years of delays, frustration and waiting came to an end as the Savannah Harbor deepening project finally got the green light," said Savannah Now.

The signing of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 authorizes the US Army Corps of Engineers to begin dredging to deepen the Savannah River channel to a depth of 47ft at mean low tide.

Mentioning Savannah by name, President Obama said the major ports in the US must be ready to handle larger ships that are moving more and more of the world’s cargo.

“This bill will create jobs and strengthen our national infrastructure,” Obama said. “It will allow the deepening of the harbours.”

Port of Savannah received a congressional OK to deepen in 1999, but extensive studies, bureaucratic delays and lawsuits stalled the project and brought projected costs well beyond those originally authorized.

The 2014 WRRDA contains language that approves the project at its current estimated cost of US$706 million.