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Walton and Oconee Counties Get $32 Million Loan for Hard Labor Creek Project

Officials with the Hard Labor Creek Reservoir Project learned Wednesday they had been approved for the full $32 million loan they had applied for to help bring water to the region.

Officials with Hard Labor Creek Reservoir project asked the state government for a loan of $32 million to complete the project. They learned Wednesday that is what they’ll get.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal last year approved low-interest loans to help ensure the state has an adequate and sustainable water supply for the future. Local officials working on the immediately put in for their share of the funding.

Walton County has been working on the Hard Labor Creek Reservoir since 1994 and Oconee County joined in on the project in 1999. Although it has stayed on track, once land acquisitions have been completed the project will be about $32 million short of funding required to complete the dam and reservoir. With the loan for Hard Labor Creek approved, the funding is now in place to go forward with the project.

The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) and Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) announced Wednesday that $90,490,866 in loans and $9,060,000 state direct investment had been awarded for eight water supply projects through the Governor’s Water Supply Program, including the Hard Labor Creek Reservoir Project.

“The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Water Supply Task Force worked hard to develop a plan that helps local governments finance water supply infrastructure,” GEFA Executive Director Kevin Clark said in the press release. “Today we’re making our initial funding awards and we look forward to supporting more projects in the near future.”

In January 2011, Deal commissioned GEFA to develop and launch the GWSP and committed $300 million to the program over four years. At $32 million Walton and Oconee counties received the largest funding of the initial outlay in the form of two, 40-year loans - one for $20 million and one for $12 million – to construct a 1,400 acre reservoir in Walton County.

According to the press release, the Walton County Water & Sewerage Authority owns title to the project and an intergovernmental agreement specifies the cost share as 28.8 percent Oconee and 71.2 percent Walton County WSA. The total cost is $90,901,000, with the counties contributing $58,901,000. There terms of the loan are as follows:

  • On the $20 million loan, Oconee and Walton Counties will pay zero percent interest during construction and a single balloon payment (principal and 1 percent interest) at year 40. There will be no closing fee associated with this loan.
  • On the $12 million loan, Oconee and Walton Counties will pay zero percent interest for the first three years of construction; 1 percent for the remainder of construction, accrued and capitalized; and two percent during the repayment period once construction is complete. Additionally, the counties will make interest only payments the first five years of the loan and will pay principal and interest thereafter. There will be no closing fee associated with this loan. 

Deal’s plan encourages the state to offer loans to projects such as this in an effort to expand Georgia’s water supply GEFA worked with DCA and other WSTF members to develop the report provided to the governor in December 2011, also holding workshops to assist communities with the process of seeking funding through the program.

GEFA reportedly received 15 applications from communities for a total of $195,595,758 in funding for their water supply projects. Local governments can apply again for second and third rounds of GWSP applications, which are scheduled to begin in January 2013 and January 2014, pending appropriations.

“Georgia has proactively sought solutions to the water supply issue, including developing new water sources and promoting water conservation,” Clark said in the release. “By ensuring adequate supply through both new water sources and conservation, Georgia’s water needs can be met.”

As well as water supply projects, GEFA’s loan programs also offer finance to a variety of water and wastewater infrastructure projects, including water conservation.

Stephanie Gross August 02, 2012 at 01:28 PM
For additional details, see Lee Becker's Oconee County Observations blog http://patch.com/B-cjb0

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