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Never, Never, Never Give Up: A Case Study Of How Pamlico County Communities Worked For More Than A Decade, And Acquired 10 Funding Instruments, To Build Their Project

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In 1987, Pamlico County's on-site systems were failing. At the County's request, McKim & Creed provided costs for complete countywide collection and treatment systems. Due to staggering costs, the issue went dormant.

However, as time went on, towns and sewer districts within the County began experiencing problems, or faced the need to expand. Funds were available for these improvements, but everyone recognized that financing short-term solutions made the inevitable long-term solutions harder to attain.

For two years, McKim & Creed and all affected parties---which included Pamlico County, the Town of Oriental, and the Bay River Metropolitan Sewer District, which represented seven municipalities---met with funding agencies, regulatory agencies, and legislators to determine the best solution to the area's long-term wastewater needs. These discussions resulted in the obtainment of one federal revolving loan, two state revolving loans, three high unit cost grants, and supplemental local funds to finance a regional project. This project, when completed, would eliminate both surface water discharges in favor of a regional non-discharge irrigation system.

These loans and grants represented a significant amount of capital, but projections for the first years after completion indicated extremely tight cash flow. The participants decided that the rate increases required to balance cash flow immediately after project completion were too severe for an already burdened constituency. However, if the entities instituted minor rate increases immediately and developed a sinking fund, the first few years of negative operating revenue could be drawn from this fund. By the time the sinking fund was exhausted, the user base would have expanded sufficiently to be self-sustaining, without extraordinary rate increases. The fund was established.

When the project was released for bids, the economy in the state was booming, and construction activity was plentiful. The project was bid approximately 850,000 over budget. However, participants' commitment to the project was strong. The health of the Neuse River Basin was receiving national attention, and removal of nutrients from the river and sound became a prominent political issue. Because of its association with the river, this project received funding from the Lower Neuse Basin Association and the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, which accommodated the higher construction cost. The budget was revised to 6.2 million. Final construction cost was 5.9 million, and construction was completed in June 1999.

Today, that same group of entities is once again planning for the future, by setting the stage for the establishment of a water reuse program.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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