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By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
Following a public hearing held Tuesday evening, the Rockford Utilities Board is steadily moving forward with extending water service to more residents in the Richville community.
Those present for the hearing included Utilities Board members, employees and Richville resident Randy Hammond. Engineer Dave Bechtel with Utility Engineering Consultants presented information for the public hearing relating to the water project.
He explained that the board was granted $850,000 from the drinking water state-revolving American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, fund. He later also explained that this money is funded by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, or ADEM.
Bechtel explained that the funds would be used to run water lines along County Road 37 in Richville. The project would also include portions of County roads 14 and 29.
He stated that the board would provide meters and do everything from the meter to the residential property line. It would then be up to the resident to run a line from the house to the meter and pay the appropriate fees.
Bechtel explained that they will go as far as they can with the water line and cut across side roads to connect more individuals. He anticipates that the project will add 10-12 more customers to the Rockford Utilities Board customer base.
During discussion, Board Member Raymond Abrams asked if they would essentially just go as far as they can with the funds available. Bechtel confirmed that they will go until the funds are depleted.
He added that the exact stopping point for the project will ultimately be determined by the funds and how much can be done with the $850,000. ADEM also requires fire or flushing hydrants be installed every 2,000 feet along the line.
Bechtel said that prices of materials are increasing, but that they will run the new line as far as they possibly can. He further stated that they will tie in as many residences as possible and try to loop the new water line.
For the areas where service is being extended, it was mentioned that if any residents in the area do not want the service right now they can connect to it later.
Bechtel mentioned that Julie Wade with ADEM is the project manager for the Utilities Board project. He stated that an agreement from ADEM would be sent to Utilities Board Chair Ronnie Brown to sign and send back.
When asked when the funds could be expected and work on the project would start, Bechtel stated that he had “no idea” when the funds will come.
Illustrating an example of how long it could potentially take, he mentioned that Goodwater signed its agreement on December 1 and still does not have its funds or permission to bid out the job.
Following Bechtel’s presentation and discussion, the board, with member Ronnie Joiner absent, unanimously approved the project as presented.
The next regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Rockford Utilities Board will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, March 20.