First Utility District awarded federal grant from Department of Agriculture

John Thompson • Dec 4, 2018 at 9:13 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Carter County’s First Utility District will benefit from the Rural Development program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s investment of $1.2 billion in 45 states to improve rural water infrastructure. The First Utility District can receive $840,000 from the program.

Keith Bowers Sr. is a commissioner with the utility district. He said the first thing the utility district customers district’s customers want to know is if whether the award will mean an increase in their water bill.

Although the award is a combination of a grant and a loan, the utility district has just paid off an old loan so no additional money will be needed to make payments on a new loan.

Bowers said the second factor in keeping local control of the spending is that the utility will decide how much of the federal money it will use. The maximum amount of the award is $840,000. But Bowers said the utility will decide how much or how little of the money it will use.

Some money will be spent on projects the utility would have done with or without the grant. One needed project is to replace the deteriorating water lines in Blue Springs. Those lines were already old when First Utility acquired the failed Blue Springs utility about 20 years ago.

Bowers said another project would be to bring a water source online that is independent of the wells the utility uses. This could be helpful in a drought.

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