Gov. McAuliffe announces $300,000 grant for public sewer service

System will improve septic transport, treatment in lower-income communities

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Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced a $300,000 grant for the Sanitary Sewer Project in Albemarle County Tuesday. The project will provide a new public sewer service to the Oak Hill subdivision of Albemarle County.

Engineers estimate the total cost of the project will be $900,000.

The Commonwealth receives $17 million annually from the Federal Department of Housing to fund similar projects across the state.

Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones said the process by which counties receive the grant is very competitive.

For this particular fund, money is only given to projects ready for construction in communities with at least 60 percent low or moderate income homes.

Residents brought attention to the need for a new public sewer system in 2010 after the first part of the Sanitary Sewer Project had been completed. It connected approximately 54 homes in Oak Hill to the public sewer system after operating on individual septic systems from 1960, Jones said.

“It’s a tribute to the power of community residents getting involved in and keeping their community healthy, viable, prospering and moving in the right direction,” Jones said.

Ron White, chief of housing in Albemarle County, said the service authority could have worked to connect sewer systems to the Oak Hill subdivisions, but many residents would not have been able to afford the connection to their homes otherwise. Seventeen of the 20 households were of low or moderate income.

“Without the grant, the service authority could have installed the sewer lines, but is unlikely that many of those people could have afforded to connect to the system,” White said.

The whole community will see environmental benefits, White said. The subdivision borders a waterway called Biscuit Run, which runs into Moores Creek and eventually into the Rivanna River. Failing septic systems could pollute the river.

“Any time you can take efforts to minimize ongoing or future pollution in the [waterways] it’s a plus for the whole community,” White said.

Construction will start around late winter or early spring and the project is expected to be finished within a year after the start of construction.

Good infrastructure and public water systems are essential for the growth of a community, Jones said.

“It is vital for every community to have a solid infrastructure in this area for the health of the citizens and the growth of the community,” Jones said.

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