Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Putnam Commission Approves Baxter Partnership To Rehab Sewer System

Putnam County has partnered with Baxter to seek funding for a wastewater rehabilitation project.

Baxter Mayor John Martin and Engineer Tom Bennett presented the proposal to the county commission Tuesday night. Bennett said the city needs to rehab 50 percent of its sewer system to keep up with growth.

“I think we can say two main topics,” Bennett said. “Baxter cannot meet the full development demand while at the same time experiencing this much infiltration and inflow. They must aggressively pursue rehabilitation of their system to accommodate for these additional development demands.”

According to Bennett, over 10 million gallons of outside water entered Baxter’s sewer system in March 2021. The city also anticipates services to grow from 630 sewer customers to over 2,600 over the next few years.

Bennett said the amount of infiltration and inflow conflicts with future growth.

“They (Baxter) could certainly use some assistance funding the rehabilitation of the sewer system to accommodate the growth that they have and accommodate the growth that we don’t even know,” Bennett said.

Mayor Randy Porter said no county funds would be involved with the project. Putnam County will apply on behalf of Baxter for TDEC COVID money covering 90 percent of the cost. Porter said the city has agreed to cover the 10 percent match.

“You’re giving us the authority to partner with Baxter for those TDEC funds that they are putting down the state,” Porter said. “We got $4.9 million roughly, and those are funds that we would apply to TDEC for. They’re all state funds. We would normally have to match that. Baxter is willing to pay the match.”

Bennett said the some $1.3 million project would focus on replacing clay piping. Bennett said the material causes the majority of leak issues the city faces. Bennett said the project should not be too difficult since Baxter is a small system with about 72,000 feet of sewer line.

The county commission approved the partnership after the presentation. Commissioner Jimmy Neal called the project a “priority.”

“Not only for Baxter, but for Putnam County,” Neal said. “I think that we would be remissed if we didn’t use these additional funds that we have for this project, so I hope we have the support to move forward with this.”

TDEC’s funding comes from $1.35 billion given through American Rescue Plan. Approximately $1 billion will be awarded in the form of non-competitive grants to communities for eligible infrastructure projects such as the one Baxter presented Tuesday night.