News Column

More Than $5 Million in State Loan Funding to Assist with Stuart Drinking Water

September 3, 2014



STUART, Fla., Sept. 3 -- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued the following news release:

A project to replace 59,000 feet of aged drinking water distribution system piping will be made possible as a result of $5.6 million in low-interest loans provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. This project will update the Stuart water infrastructure and improve drinking water quality. The loan carries a very low interest rate of 2.06 percent, which helps keep costs to taxpayers low.

"In order to protect water quality and public health for our citizens, it is essential that we invest in our wastewater, stormwater and drinking water infrastructure," said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. "This funding program enables us to make this feasible and affordable for local governments. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Rick Scott and the Florida legislature, $72 million in state funding has been appropriated for the next fiscal year to continue this important program to improve drinking water."

The city's aging drinking water distribution system requires frequent, expensive maintenance to prevent health issues as well as water waste. These improvements will also address public safety as the new lines will increase fire flow to critical facilities in the city.

The modernized infrastructure will increase Stuart's capacity to 6 million gallons per day, which is more than enough to serve the city's projected needs for the next 15 years. Moreover, the potential of contaminants will be considerably reduced with modern materials.

In addition to replacing pipes, the loan will go toward installing FlexNet, a modern water metering system that utilizes smart meters to empower individual users to monitor and control water conservation measures. This metering system allows regulators and individuals to isolate costly water leaks and improve water conservation efforts.

"The State Revolving Funds is an outstanding program for any government entity looking to do renewal or replacement work," said David Peters, an assistant public works director for the city of Stuart. "This will be our second SRF loan. Working with DEP and the folks in the SRF section has been very rewarding to us and they have been extremely helpful and professional. They have been with us every step of the way. These folks couldn't be more helpful."

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program has awarded $825 million in loans since its inception in 1998, and more than $389 million in funding for 61 projects in just the past five years. Including the newly added projects, the department will have committed over $36 million in fiscal year 2013-14 to drinking water improvement projects. The program is funded by federal grants, state matching funds, loan repayments and interest earnings.

The city of Stuart is located in Martin County and provides water services to the city and some parts of unincorporated Martin County. Stuart's water infrastructure serves an estimated 16,841 resident population within its service area and will support the replacing of the aging infrastructure with a new schedule of water rates.

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