Valdosta Daily Times

November 17, 2013

Wastewater project loan approved

Valdosta’s debt to GEFA climbs to $98 million

Kay Harris
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The City of Valdosta was awarded a $36.7 million Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) loan by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) last week to finance the force main project for the wastewater treatment improvements. The new loan brings the city’s total outstanding debt to GEFA to approximately $79 million, excluding interest.

According to GEFA, Valdosta has received nearly a dozen 20-year, low interest loans since 1987 for $73 million, several of which have matured and paid in full. The remaining loans have an outstanding principal balance of $42.4 million, according to the latest available financial statements from the City, with an additional $14 million in interest due.

With the addition of the new loan, the largest yet to the City of Valdosta, the outstanding balance in principal is now $79 million. With an additional $5 million in interest due, bringing the amount to $19 million, the total to be repaid is approximately $98 million. These amounts do not include payments made in the 2013 fiscal year.

According to the City, the new loan will be used to finance the construction of “two major pump stations, two minor pump stations, a 6-mile 32-inch and 40-inch force main, a head works structure with grit removal and bar screens, and a 6-million gallon equalization basin. Wastewater will be gravity fed to the existing site of the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) for final treatment and discharged utilizing the existing plant outfall, until the relocation of the plant is completed in November 2015.”

The city also states that the project will replace an existing 54-inch gravity sewer main to the current plant, as well as the plant’s existing influent pump station, “both of which are highly prone to severe inflow and flooding from the Withlacoochee River during heavy rain events. The project is also expected to remove over 50 percent of sewer flow from Meadowbrook sewer trunk line.”

The 1.4 percent, 20-year GEFA loan of $36,781,448 will allow the City to pay for and begin the project construction immediately. The city will retire the loan with SPLOST VII revenue, which comes in one month at a time over the next six years—January 2014 through December 2019.

The project is part of the mandated repairs required by the Georgia Environmental Protection Agency in lieu of fines for the raw sewage discharges early in 2013.

“The City of Valdosta proactively accelerated this necessary wastewater treatment project by timing the application for the GEFA loan with the SPLOST referendum, shaving several years off the project timeline,” said Utilities Director Henry Hicks. “We have the project designed and ready to bid as we planned, and we’re pleased the timelines all came together.”

GEFA is the lead agency for state energy programs; directs the Georgia Land Conservation Program and maintains state-owned fuel storage tanks; and offers financing for reservoir and water supply, water quality, storm water and solid waste infrastructure.

 Since 1985, GEFA has approved more than $3 billion in financial commitments to local governments, businesses and nonprofit organizations.