The South Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) has awarded the City of Fountain Inn $500,000 for sewer system improvements for fiscal year 2020. The City has leveraged the RIA funding award with a $350,000 match for rehabilitation and engineering.
The City of Fountain Inn has been aggressively operating, maintaining, evaluating, and rehabilitating its aging sewer system over the last 15 years. These funds will focus on rehabilitating the City’s oldest vitrified clay sewers (VCP) and brick manholes which were installed in the 1960’s and have exceeded their useful life.
“We have a responsibility to our residents and businesses to not only provide adequate sewer for their needs, but also to maintain it so we can prevent deterioration and potential failure of the system. It has been a priority of mine to address infrastructure needs within our community, and our entire Council has taken proactive action in that endeavor each year. Our staff did an excellent job in identifying and going after additional funds to support this project. With the help of the RIA, we are now able to make one of the largest single investments into the rehabilitation of our sewer system we’ve seen in Fountain Inn, helping our community maintain a healthy infrastructure,” said Mayor GP McLeer.
A recent engineering study performed by CDM Smith estimates the City needing to complete approximately $4.5 million worth of sewer system rehabilitation over the next 20 years. The City is currently performing a $250,000 rehabilitation project and when combined with the RIA-funded project, the City will have achieved approximately 22% of the sewer system rehabilitation needed over the next 20 years.
RIA grants are awarded through a competitive process that identifies priority needs for improved public health, environmental protection, community sustainability and economic development. Applicants are required to match the RIA funding requests. Applications are selected by the RIA Board based on criteria including severity of the problem, expected benefits and feasibility of the project. A total of 34 grant awards were made for fiscal year 2020.
The SC Rural Infrastructure Authority was established in 2012 to assist communities with financing for qualified infrastructure projects for water and wastewater systems as well as storm water drainage facilities. Although RIA initially offered grants to projects in rural and distressed counties, the programs were expanded to make grant and loan assistance available statewide. The RIA is governed by a seven-member board of directors, and the SC Secretary of Commerce serves as the chairman.