COLUMBIA — The S.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority has awarded nearly $3.8 million in grants for 14 water, sewer and drainage projects in 13 counties across the state — including $272,492 to the Town of Winnsboro to replace a sewer line to the treatment plant.
“Setting the table is a key part of economic development success. The RIA grants help those communities lacking resources in making the infrastructure improvements necessary for them to succeed and remain sustainable,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt, who also serves as chairman of the RIA’s board of directors.
In addition to the funding awarded by the RIA, the applicants leveraged an additional $25 million from other funding sources to contribute to these projects.
Eligible activities included upgrades, improvement or extension of water or sewer infrastructure. More than 70 percent of the funded projects were upgrades to address health and environmental issues that will improve the capacity of existing systems to serve customers and prepare for economic development.
The funded projects also include extension of water lines to areas experiencing dry or failing wells that are subject to bacteria and contamination, and improvement of facilities to address storm water flooding conditions in low-lying areas.
The grants were awarded through a competitive process that focused on environmental quality standards and public health concerns. Applications were reviewed using several criteria including: severity of the problem, expected benefits, feasibility of the project, readiness to begin construction and cost reasonableness.
The eligible entities that can apply for grant funding include any municipality, county, special purpose or public service district, or public works commission primarily within areas designated as distressed or least developed.
The RIA is a newly-formed state agency that is housed at the Department of Commerce. The purpose of the RIA is to support the construction and improvement of rural infrastructure through competitive grants and other financial assistance. The RIA is governed by a board of directors, and the Secretary of Commerce serves as he chairman. All funding decisions were made by the board.