Snow stymies survey; Saturday shift foreseen

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lewisburg Water and Wastewater Department employees anticipated continuing their door-to-door survey of homes in a broad area of the western part of the city so federal money may subsidize sewer repairs.

Questionnaires might have been completed by now had it not been for the snow, utility Superintendent Kenneth Carr said Wednesday, but because of an early February deadline for a grant application, "We will probably have to work Saturday.

"We ask that the public participate in this because it's a cost-saving means to repair the lines and it will ultimately save ratepayers on their water and sewer bills," Carr said.

The city is applying for its fifth matching grant to repair leaking sewers. The most recent grant delivered by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development was for $450,275, signed by Gov. Phil Bredesen on Dec. 10, 2008.

That money and grants in 2002, 2004 and 2006 have saved the city nearly $1.75 million when finding and repairing leaking sewers. The sewers to be addressed by the next project were built in the 1960s.

"We're going to apply for somewhere near the maximum" for a grant, Carr said. "That's somewhere near $500,000."

To qualify for the grants, the city must prove to federal officials that the area to be served is economically depressed. As a result, household income and other demographic information is required.

"We have to have 34 percent of the homes in the drainage area surveyed," Carr said, referring to the geographic area served by sewers that would be repaired.

Therefore, approximately 750-800 surveys must be completed and then a percentage of them have to fit into a low-income category so the city may qualify for the grant.

This kind of door-to-door survey has been conducted at least four times before here and many other times in various other cities in Tennessee and across the nation.

If a resident isn't home, then the utility employees put a "Dear Resident" letters at doors of houses. The area being surveyed now is Drainage Area No. 5, one of the city's biggest drainage areas. It's on the western side of the city, largely in a northwestern quadrant west of CSX railroad tracks. Most of it is north of West Commerce, and out to West Ellington Parkway.

An announcement on whether the city will receive the grant is expected between August and October.