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CSO grant worth $4.4 million for Tell City

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Money will lessen wastewater project's impact on ratepayers

By The Staff

TELL CITY - Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman announced last week that Tell City will receive a $4,447,000 grant, one of the largest funding awards in city history, to control its combined-sewer overflows. The money, which is a grant that won't have to be repaid, will be partnered with a $6.6 million low-interest loan from the state's revolving fund.

Tell City has worked for years to control its combined-sewer overflows, points in the city that discharge stormwater and raw sewage during periods of heavy rain. The city has reduced the number of its CSOs but federal and state guidelines are requiring communities to eliminate them to prevent water contamination.

The oldest areas of Tell City have combined sewers, meaning that mains carry both sewage and stormwater. The project will separate  the two in some areas of the city and will enlarge the capacity of the sewage-treatment plant. Tell City is working under a five-year plan to eliminate its CSOs and by doing so has avoided coming under Environmental Protection Agency sanctions.

The grant will remove millions of dollars of construction and design costs that would otherwise have been paid through monthly water rates. The city will still have to adjust rates to cover the loan but Mayor Barbara Ewing called the benefit to city residents tremendous.

"With the CSO project being a state-mandated project, the city was faced with the challenge of not only addressing the engineering aspect of the project, but also the financing of the project's cost. The grant award, partnered with a low-interest state revolving fund loan, will allow the city to proceed with this project and comply with the state mandate," she said.

The city has already contracted with an engineering and design firm for the project, which is expected to be ready for a mid-December bid letting.