The PSA announced the funding on Wednesday.
“This project has been on our list for many years, probably five years or more,” said Mike Dishman, PSA executive director. “We currently have a water main down Fairview Road that goes down part of the way, but it doesn’t go all the way to the Fairview community or to the old school. There are a lot of people down there who want public water.”
The project will cost $6,920,000 and is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s rural development program. The USDA approved a loan to the PSA for $4,801,000 and a grant of $1,589,000. The remainder of the money is coming in the form of grants from the Virginia Department of Health ($150,000), the local Planning District Commission ($150,000), Coalfield Water Development ($200,000) and an already approved $30,000 to study the problem.
The project will include approximately 18 miles of water distribution lines, 95 water meters, 33 fire hydrants and any other needed equipment.
When finished, the new water lines will serve 4,195 residents and 100 commercial users.
Dishman said he was first made aware of Fairview residents experiencing issues with their water when some concerned citizens attended a monthly PSA board meeting in 2014. He said he has been working diligently ever since to get this project off the ground.
Currently, people living in the community receive their water via springs or wells. Issues arise with water from those sources including inadequate flow and high levels of iron and sulfides, which make water look, smell and taste bad.
To remedy the situation, residents were going to roadside springs and collecting water for their homes. Dishman said employees with the PSA found the springs and tested them. It turned out those springs are heavily contaminated with E. coli, which is a health hazard.
The PSA got initial funding from the USDA to study the problem, but the project was almost derailed during the study.
“It didn’t look like a good project from a cost point of view,” Dishman said. “It was a high cost per connection. It would have cost close to $40,000 for connection due to spacing from homes. The cost was going to be very expensive.”
Dishman said he and his engineers went to work with the USDA to figure out a way to fund the project. He said the PSA was able to refinance existing loans to get a better rate and, combined with the grant, would allow the PSA to build new water lines.
The loan will be for 40 years at an interest rate of 1.375 percent.