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By Carmen Ensinger
For quite some time now, the Winchester City Council, along with their engineers, Benton and Associates, have been discussing the need to replace the aging water mains within the city.
This project is a multi-million dollar endeavor and the only way the city could afford to do it is with the help of a grant and a low interest loan. But the only way to get those is to show the need for the mains to be replaced.
To that end, the city has been working with Benton and Associates, assessing the mains throughout the city to determine which mains need replacing the most and a projected cost of such a project in what is called a Preliminary Engineering Report (PER).
That PER was submitted to the USDA along with a grant application prior to the end of the July 1 quarter while the interest rate was still at 1.5 percent. After July 1, the interest rate was set to rise to 2.5 percent.
Benton and Associates Engineer Greg Hillis told the council at the Aug. 2 meeting that it is looking good for the city that they will be selected for the grant and that there are quite a few things that need to be done between now and the first of the year.
“This program falls under the new Buy America Build America Act (BABA), but if you can get this project obligated before the first of the year, you don’t have to meet those requirements,” Hillis said. “It is a good concept, but in the end, it will cost you more money so it is important we get this in before the deadline.”
The BABA Act was signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Nov. 15, 2021 which includes the BABA Act. This act was created to strengthen the “Made in America” laws and is supposed to bolster America’s industrial base, protect national security and support high-paying jobs.