Federal grant would mean new water lines in Forsyth, Monroe County

awomack@macon.comMarch 21, 2014 

When Patricia Martin turned on the faucet for her 87-year-old mother’s bath earlier this week, the water had a dark, dirty tint.

“It was muddy,” said Martin, who lives with her mother in the Stuart Avenue house that her mom has called home for more than 20 years.

The problem comes and goes, but it comes often enough that Martin -- like others in the Mill Village neighborhood just north of the Forsyth city limit -- buys bottled water for drinking.

Forsyth and Monroe County are applying jointly for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to replace the water lines on Shaw Avenue, Stuart Avenue, Langston Avenue, Circle Street, Vining Street and Ensign Road, said Kristi Harpst, a planner with the Middle Georgia Regional Commission.

The commission is helping to draft the application for the federal grant, which will be funneled through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

As part of the application, Harpst has surveyed residents to learn about the problems they’re having and to determine whether they meet the grant’s required low to moderate income levels.

“A lot of the residents are complaining about low water pressure,” she said.

Others have noticed an odor of sulfur or chlorine.

Some of the lines don’t have adequate water pressure for fire protection, she said.

The project is estimated to cost $530,000. The project would replace small diameter water lines with larger pipes, Harpst said. Larger water lines would improve water delivery and water pressure.

Byron also is applying for a similar grant to replace decades-old water lines that contain asbestos in the Toomersville and Bassett Street neighborhoods.

Harpst said communities across the state apply for similar grants, which provide funds for important infrastructure improvements.

Often, she said, it’s not feasible for the improvements to be paid for though an increase in water rates.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs is expected to announce grant award winners in September.

If Forsyth and Monroe County receive the grant funds, work on the water lines is set to begin by fall 2015.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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