Communities across South Carolina will share in a more than $1.36 billion pot of grant money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Some of the largest grants are coming to local governments in Aiken, Edgefield, and surrounding counties.
The funds are being distributed by the South Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority through its South Carolina Infrastructure Investment Program (SCIIP). The program was created by RIA to be a one-time initiative to invest in water, wastewater, and stormwater systems across the Palmetto State.
“The vital infrastructure improvements these funds will deliver across South Carolina will be a game changer,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “The availability of critical services not only improves the immediate quality of life for our citizens, but it also makes our state more attractive for impactful and sustained economic development.”
North Augusta Deputy Administrator Rachelle Moody told council members during the April 24 study session that the city is receiving more than $7.6 million from the distribution.
“This will allow us to rehab sewer lines, our three largest wastewater interceptors, this covers the full span of the city. This is a significant investment in our infrastructure that we’ve not been able to do,” she said.
The Southeast Interceptor includes approximately 8,618 feet and stretches from Georgia Avenue near the Thirteenth Street Bridge, along Riverside Boulevard, to East Buena Vista Avenue, to Atomic Road and Martintown Road and ending at Brigham Road.
The Northeast Interceptor includes approximately 8,468 feet; from Brigham Road to Womrath Court.
The final project, the Southwest Interceptor, had been approved as a stand-alone project by council in March 2022 with funding of just over $3.9 million. It includes approximately 12,177 feet; from Georgia Avenue near the Thirteenth Street Bridge, parallel to the Savannah River, and extending to West Martintown Road.
The SCIIP grant does require the city to provide about $1.35 million in matching funds. The city will be able to pull that money from the funds originally set aside for the Southwest Interceptor, ultimately saving the city more than $2.5 million.
Moody said the work will be done using “cured-in-place-pipe” lining. That method involves inserting a liner inside existing pipes, inflating the liner and heating it too dry and harden inside the pipe. It requires little to no digging and significantly less time to upgrade the pipe.
“The rehabilitation of the wastewater collection system using CIPP will aid in reducing the amount of inflow and infiltration entering the City’s collection system, which will in turn aid in reducing the sanitary sewer overflows the city experiences,” Moody said.
Municipal Association of South Carolina Executive Director, and former North Augusta Administrator, Todd Glover called the grants transformative.
“These federal dollars are making transformative changes in cities and towns across the state through infrastructure improvements and replacements. These changes improve the quality of life for residents, visitors and business owners, while also attracting business and economic development opportunities,” he said.
“This is a generational opportunity to continue our efforts in setting the stage for economic development,” said SC Secretary of Commerce and RIA Board Chairman Harry M. Lightsey, III. “The funds awarded today will directly support projects that will help make critical infrastructure improvements to support existing businesses and prepare all parts of South Carolina for future growth.”
Most of the SCIIP grants are for $10 million. The City of Aiken is among the municipalities that will receive the maximum.
City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh said the money will be used to build a replacement water plant on Columbia Highway North and Shaws Creek. It will replace the city’s aging facility, built in 1954.
“We have funding from a federal earmark sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham for $4.5 million. The balance of the project will be paid with system depreciation funds and a low interest loan from the State Revolving Fund, a SC agency that provides loans for these type of utility projects,” he said.
The total project cost is an estimated $65 million. Bedenbaugh hopes to call for bids within a year. Construction will take 24 months.
Also receiving the maximum grant is the Edgefield County Water and Sewer Authority, which also serves customers in a small portion of Aiken County.
“These funds will be utilized to upgrade the capacity of the current WTP (water treatment plant) to approximately 12.5 million gallons per day of treated water (Currently at 8.85 mgd) and the resiliency of pumping operations at the Water Treatment Plant,” ECWSA Administrator John Hare explained.
He said the authority will provide approximately $3.5 million in matching funds.
ECWSA is currently in the design phase of the project. Phase one is expected to go out for bid by this fall followed by phase two in the summer. The authority hopes to complete the project by the winter of 2025.
Among the other local municipalities receiving grants are:
Aiken County, Horse Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements, $9,852,300
Aiken County/Breezy Hill Water and Sewer Company, Water Treatment Plant Improvements, $5,941,930
Town of Blackville, Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements, $6,975,092
City of Barnwell, New Elevated Tank and Wastewater Rehabilitation, $5,199,688
Edgefield County, Barton Road Drainage Improvements, $950,747
Town of Edgefield, Gymnasium Stormwater Improvements, $790,000