The Jacksonville City Council, aware of some sewage system needs, approved the Texas Water Development Board’s loan request at this month’s council meeting. Approval of the loan application does not oblige the city to accept.
TWDB funds, if received, would be used for an infrastructure project involving the city’s sewer system. The project would involve the replacement of over a mile and a half of 18 inch sanitary sewer line, stretching between S. Bolton and Nichols Green Park, with 24 inch pipe. Work would also include replacing the sanitary sewer lift station on Lakeshore Drive.
“It is in the city’s interest to apply for and receive these types of loans from the Texas Water Development Board. They are inferior to market-type loans,” said City Manager James Hubbard.
Jacksonville is seeking a loan in the amount of $5.919 million with an expected term of 20 years.
The funds the city is asking for would be provided by the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, a federal-state partnership program that provides communities with low-cost funding for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects. The partnership exists between the Environmental Protection Agency and each of the states.
The process of obtaining TWDB loans is long. Project information forms, submitted by cities across the state, are ranked, and municipalities with top-ranked projects are invited to submit applications.
“We had to apply a year in advance just to be invited,” said Randall Chandler, director of community and public services. “You must apply in the spring and you are not notified until the fall.”
Jacksonville submitted a PIF in March 2021 and received an invitation to apply in September of the same year. If approved, the city would not close the loan until late summer.
“August is the expected close date with construction in the summer of 2023,” Hubbard said. “Again, these are all very flexible tentative planning marks. We are probably still over a year away from the start of construction.
Assuming loan approval and board agreement to the terms, the initial project design will need to be finalized and submitted to the state.
“It has to go through the state to be approved,” Chandler said. “You are obligated to meet the standards and criteria of the Water Development Board.”
While completion of the project should fix current issues, Hubbard noted that the project only covers part of the sewer system.
“It’s not a magic bullet. This section of line is not the whole system,” Hubbard said. “There are still many other pieces of infrastructure that are related and not part of this project.”
If the TWDB loan is used, construction of the proposed sewer project is expected to take two years. The city is also considering two other sewer projects.
“This is one of the larger sanitary sewer projects that we’re currently looking at and trying to prioritize, but there are others as well,” Hubbard said. “We are well aware that the system needs investment.”