ADEM provides grant to fund Town of Dozier water system improvements

Published 8:00 am Thursday, October 20, 2022

Crenshaw County residents in the Town of Dozier can expect to enjoy the benefits of water system improvements soon, thanks to the rollout of $122 million in Alabama Department of Environmental Management grant dollars awarded to Alabama’s Black Belt Counties.

ADEM approved release of the first monies for grant requests and to date has signed off on a $272,250 project to refurbish the Town of Dozier’s 100,000-gallon water storage tank installed nearly 20 years ago.

According to project engineer Troy Hudson with Southern Engineering Solutions in Andalusia, grant dollars will enable the town to clean and recoat the whole tank, inside and out. 

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The tank’s refurbishment will ensure the town can continue providing clean drinking water for nearly 500 residents for many years to come.

“The coating on the tank is beginning to reach the end of its life,” Hudson explained. “We’ve been talking with the town for the last few years, trying to see if we can find a way to secure grant funds before we get to the point where Dozier would have to get a loan. Refurbishing the tank will allow Dozier to continue providing safe, clean, reliable drinking water and storage for water for firefighting and other needs.

For small towns like Dozier, water systems must be self-supporting because taxes rarely generate enough revenue, Hudson said. Grant funds like those the town will receive from ADEM are vital to ensuring rural systems can provide safe and affordable water for area residents.

In September, ADEM announced the award of $348 million in grant funds to repair and upgrade water and sewer systems in Alabama. More than $77 million in grants were approved for communities in the Black Belt and ADEM has set aside another $45 million to invest $122 million in the region’s public water and sewer systems.

The ADEM grants are designed to address the significant repairs and upgrades needed to provide adequate water and sewer services to residents served by many of Alabama’s 1,061 public systems. Half of the systems statewide submitted requests for much-needed projects totaling more than $3.2 billion.

“Thanks to Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Legislature, we are making an unprecedented investment in water and sewer systems across Alabama to address longstanding and, in some cases, dire needs that go back decades,” ADEM Director Lance LeFleur said in ADEM’s September press release. “These funds are going to communities with the most critical needs, such as in the Black Belt, that would not otherwise be able to afford the repairs and upgrades on their own. These projects are going to have a significant, positive effect on the lives of millions of Alabamians.”

The recipients selected so far are the first round of grants and loans ADEM will award, LeFleur stressed.

“We make no pretense that we can satisfy all the water and sewer infrastructure needs in the state of Alabama,” he said. “The billions of dollars in requests we have received total several times the amount of money we have available. Projects we are not able to fund this year will be considered for funding in future years.”