City applies for multi-million dollar loan to improve drinking water system
A new water project may be coming to town. In yesterday’s city council meeting, council members applied for a $8.1 million loan that would improve the city’s drinking water system.
“These projects are not just about the service aspect to the citizens of Meridian. It’s also about making Meridian a viable location for economic development,” said Public Works Director Hugh Smith.
He added that industries looking to move to Meridian are typically concerned about the city’s water capacity.
“You should always have a certain excess capacity on hand for drinking water systems. Some of that is because of a need for shutdowns, a need for repairs, and the unlikely occurrence of an emergency, so you never want to be at 100 percent capacity.”
The project would include drilling new wells and increasing fresh water reserves throughout the city. At first, city council members were concerned that the project would increase water rates for customers.
The Mississippi Department of Health is lending the loan at a 1.95 percent interest rate. The city would have 20 years to pay it back.
“It’s not about the loan fund making money. In fact, the only reason I think there is interest associated with it is so the fund itself can remain solvent,” said Smith.
If approved, the project will primarily target the North Water Treatment Plant, which provides about 60 percent of the city’s water. No construction should happen in residential areas.
City council members expect to hear a response about the loan in September. If put into motion, the project could take almost a year to complete.