Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Sanford D Bishop Jr (GA-02)
BUENA VISTA, GA – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development, Justin Maxson, City of Buena Vista Mayor Kevin Brown, and Georgia Rural Water Association Executive Director Jimmy Matthews met at Buena Vista City Hall to announce an $8.582 million funding award to the city to address urgent, major wastewater collection and treatment system repairs and improvements. This infrastructure investment will improve the lives of the 2,173 residents of Buena Vista — protecting their health and the local environment.
“Today is a great example of the success we have in serving rural Georgians when local, state, and federal leaders work together to tackle the challenges facing our communities. As a leader on the House Appropriations Committee, it is wonderful to see the programs for which I fought to obtain funding be invested in the project we are announcing here today,” said Congressman Bishop. “I am glad to have worked with Mayor Brown and Executive Director Matthews over the past several months on this important endeavor. Deputy Undersecretary Maxson joining us today to announce this monumental investment is a testament to the Biden Administration’s commitment to improving the lives of rural Americans.”
“For decades, our country’s infrastructure hasn’t received the attention it needed. The consequences of this disinvestment have fallen hardest on communities of color and rural towns and cities where residents face the harshest economic realities,” said USDA Deputy Undersecretary Maxson. “Livable communities – communities with a growing economy, effective community services like health care, and affordable housing – need modern and reliable water and sewer infrastructure. Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is investing in communities and people who need it the most: to help them build back better, stronger and more equitably than ever before.”
“The leadership and citizens of Buena Vista are grateful for the swift assistance provided by Congressman Bishop as we were faced with an extreme financial challenge. Congressman Bishop worked tirelessly to ensure that we had access to opportunities for grant assistance in this endeavor,” said Mayor Brown. “Our citizens, who are already faced with financial burdens after the loss of Tyson and are currently experiencing numerous challenges due to COVID-19, will not have to experience extreme water rate increases to pay for the new wastewater facility. Now, thanks to his efforts, the citizens will have a manageable water/sewage bill and will have a new facility that will effectively protect our environment.”
“The City of Buena Vista exemplifies rural America, and this wastewater upgrade project is exactly what the USDA infrastructure funding programs are designed to do. This investment in Buena Vista’s wastewater treatment facility will allow businesses to grow and create economic opportunities which will provide a return on this investment,” said Georgia Rural Water Association Executive Director Matthews. “Without adequate water and wastewater infrastructure in place for rural communities, these opportunities would not be possible. We are fortunate to have Congressman Sanford Bishop who understands the needs of rural Georgia and the impact that investments in rural infrastructure have on our quality of life. This is the model for investing in rural America!”
In 2016 Tyson Foods, one of the City of Buena Vista’s largest employers, closed its plant, leaving over 300 citizens out of work. The city saw its median household income drop from over $32,000 to $18,750. It also saw the revenue in its water and sewer enterprise fund drop by one-third.
The city’s wastewater treatment plant was last upgraded in 1985. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division recently reduced the city’s discharge limit for ammonia to a level that the current plant cannot consistently achieve. This would expose the city to fines, creating additional financial strain and undermining its ability to address the problem.
USDA is funding this project through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program which provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage to households and businesses in eligible rural areas with populations of 10,000 or less.
Today’s announced award, which consists of a $2.543 million loan and $6.039 million grant, will finance the construction of a replacement treatment plant that will reduce sewage spills and backups and increase system efficiency.