SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (WHNT) — Hundreds of local water systems in communities across Alabama are aging, putting residents’ access to clean drinking water in danger. On Friday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced a $225 million project to help small communities update their water and sewer systems.
Scottsboro is one of many communities with a water and sewer system constructed decades ago, but the state granted the city $14.8 million to update parts of the system.
“One problem we have in Alabama is aging infrastructure,” said Ivey. “The water infrastructure is in desperate need of investments.”
The Alabama Legislature allotted $225 million to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) to fund water and sewer infrastructure projects in the state. The initiative will be funded from the $2.1 billion total the state received from the American Rescue Plan in 2021.
“Dealing with wastewater and drinking water is not a glamorous business, but it is critical to those they represent,” said ADEM Director Lance Le Fleur.
According to ADEM, more than 50% of the drinking water systems and just over 40% of the wastewater systems in the state have applied for aide. More than 75 projects have been funded so far. ADEM will continue allotting money based on the level of need in these areas, prioritizing communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Ivey said for many, water and sewer systems are out of sight and out of mind.
“We don’t see the structure,” Ivey said. “It’s underground, and it’s been there for decades. So, we’ve got to pay attention to our water infrastructure.”
However, Ivey said it is important to update and improve infrastructure before access to clean drinking water is put at risk.
“We all need clean water for our businesses, our home, our family to thrive,” Ivey said. “It’s critical that we stay on top of it and invest our funds from the federal government wisely.”
The state is required to spend all funds received through the American Rescue Plan Act by 2024.
For more information about upcoming ADEM water projects, click here.