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$14M wastewater loan for Baxter
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Board of directors with the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority awarded the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority a $14 million Georgia Fund loan on Thursday.

According to a news release from GEFA, the loan was awarded to NCWSA to finance the cost of the Covington sewer connection project, which will provide wastewater service to Baxter International within the Stanton Springs industrial park.

About 10,000 linear feet of gravity sewer, four wastewater lift stations and 79,000 linear feet of force main will be installed with the funding. Mike Hopkins, NCWSA executive director, said there was no time to build a wastewater plant on the east side of the county and this was a way to bring wastewater from Baxter to an already existing plant to be treated.

"In order for us to serve Baxter with their aggressive time schedule, that was the only way that it could be done," Hopkins said. "We saw this as the fastest way to serve Baxter and to get things done on their time schedule."

Newton County will pay 1.82 percent interest on the 20-year loan. The county qualified for a 1 percent interest rate reduction because it's a WaterFirst designated system.

A WaterFirst system is a voluntary partnership between local governments, state agencies and other organizations working together to increase the quality of life in communities through the wise management and protection of water resources, according to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Hopkins said Newton County and the city became a WaterFirst community in November 2011.

"A 1 percent interest reduction on a 14 million loan at that rate from GEFA is pretty nice," he said.

The Georgia Fund is a state-funded program administered by GEFA that provides communities with low-interest loans for water, wastewater, water conservation and solid waste infrastructure projects.

GEFA executive director Kevin Clark said the Georgia Fund is a tangible commitment by Governor Nathan Deal and the General Assembly to assist local governments across the state with their infrastructure improvements.

He said in addition to the public's health and safety, these projects are critical to a community's economic growth and prosperity. Clark thanked state and local officials for their efforts in moving projects such as this forward.

"I'd like to express appreciation to Gov. Deal, state Sen. Rick Jeffares and state Reps. Pamela Dickerson, Andy Welch and Doug Holt for their support. The state's commitment to helping cities and counties finance infrastructure development is a main contributor to GEFA's success," Clark said.

Hopkins said the wastewater project should last about 14 months and is planned to be competed in January or February 2014. He said right now, they are working on the design concepts for the project and preparing construction documents, which he said should be completed within the next few weeks. NCWSA plans to seek bids for the project within the next month.