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Water System Windfall

South Boston News
Brodnax citizens accept a ceremonial check for $1 million from Maurice Jones, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade, to fund improvements to the town’s aged water system. (Contributed photo) / February 10, 2016
The Town of Brodnax has been tapped to receive a $1 million federal block grant to repair its aging water system.

The town received one of the two grants awarded by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, which administers federal block grant funds in the state. The other grant, for $530,000, went to Scott County for its Riverside Offsite Utilities Project. The awards were announced Friday by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Brodnax Mayor Don Dugger said, “This project will basically address a large section of the old pipes in Brodnax and will increase water volume/flow. We see most of our water line issues around freeze/thaw situations. Modern engineered lines will perform better in the same situations primarily due to advancements in water line technology.”

The Town of Brodnax water project will upgrade and replace more than 12,000 linear feet of waterline and install 16 fire hydrants in the community.

Now that Rural Development funds have been secured and the environmental assessment completed, the engineering design will begin very soon. Dugger said he expects the project will be completed in June 2017.

For a number of years, the town has suffered from frequent water maintenance issues that create a financial burden on the town’s 319 residents. 59 percent of the town’s water customers are low-and moderate-income households. As a result, Town Council voted to pursue funding opportunities to cover the cost of repairing or replacing the water/service lines.

The town was incorporated 100 years ago and Brodnax’s water system is older than that. “We have no clear date of when the original water lines were installed,” said Dugger.

He explained some of the problems that come with a 100-year-plus system: “The oldest pipes in the water system are brittle from age. When there is a break in these lines, modern repair techniques cannot effectively be used as the brittle pipes are not compatible with current repair equipment. This means a break that could be identified, excavated, repaired and returned to normal — that might take a half of a day with modern repair tools — could take up to a week with this old piping.

“The greatest challenge is odd sized pipes that require custom-made repair parts. The brittle pipes also are a challenge to repair, simply because of their delicate state.”

Last year, Council made the decision that water deficiencies qualified as Brodnax’s most pressing community need. With the help of B & B Consultants, Inc., the Town studied the condition of its in-town and out-of-town water distribution system.

The B&B study identified seven main problem areas: along U.S. Route 58 Business, Main Street, Branch Road, High Street, Richwood Drive, Richwood Lane, and Railroad Avenue, and calculated the cost of repair to these sites at $1,501,701.

In March, the town applied for a $1 million CDBG grant with the Department of Housing and Community Development. The application was submitted to DHCD and requested $1 million to leverage with Rural Development funds totaling $501,700.

Virginia receives up to $17 million annually for this grant program. Most CDBG grant funds are awarded through a competitive process.

“In order to create strong, resilient and sustainable communities, we need to help localities improve their infrastructure assets, especially in rural parts of Virginia,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “These community development projects are great examples of federal, state and local partners working together as a team to make the Commonwealth a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

During this year’s competitive cycle, 21 projects were submitted by localities throughout the Commonwealth. The initial allocation of this program included 12 localities, totaling more than $8.2 million in grants.

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