The cities of Licking and Summersville are among 39 communities that will share about $410 million to make advancements under funds from American Rescue Plan Act. Licking will receive $5 million for water improvements, $5 million for sewer improvements and $130,000 for lead service line inventories and provide only a $350,000 match.

Summersville was awarded $2.82 million for wastewater improvements and another $55,000 for lead line inventories. Its share for the wastewater work is $28,500.

It is the largest distribution of grant funds under a single program in the county’s history.

Gov. Mike Parson on Friday announced the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is awarding the funds to help Missouri communities improve drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure as well as lead service line inventories. 

“We knew this program was critically needed for communities across our state, and that’s why we included it in this year’s budget,”  Parson said. “While we know more is still needed to upgrade our infrastructure and ensure reliable water resources for the next generations, these grants will leverage even greater local and private investments to help boost our competitiveness for economic development projects and ensure our communities in every corner of Missouri are finding success.” 

“We received approximately 1,000 applications requesting more than $2.4 billion in funding,” said Dru Buntin, director of the Department of Natural Resources. “We designed the specific scoring criteria to ensure that the limited funds available are awarded to projects in a way that maximizes the impact of those funds across Missouri —  in communities both urban and rural, large and small.”

Licking ranked 38 out of 371 on the points list for water funding, according to a scoring tally released by the state. In south-central Missouri, Hartville received about $4.9 million; Winona, $5 million; Van Buren, $5 million; and Salem, $3.73 million.

South-central Missouri also secured funds for wastewater projects: Winona, $5 million; Salem, $5 million; Edgar Springs, $3.42 million. Houston was deemed eligible, but was not selected for $1.2 million in funding (It was 65 out of 329 applicants and the funding was cut off at 34). Cabool asked for $4.45 million. (It was No. 100)

No communities were listed for stormwater assistance in this region.

In south-central Missouri, lead service line inventory funds were given to: Salem, $150,000; Van Buren, $197,999; Mountain View, $198,000; Rolla, $80,000; and Summersville, $55,000.

Funding for the department’s four competitive water infrastructure grant programs was made available through the Biden’s Administration American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State Fiscal Recovery Funds. Applications were scored based on the applicant’s financial need, engineering capability and necessity of the project. Given the limited amount of funding, this resulted in a highly competitive application environment.

Major work will result at Licking

The news was met with excitement at Licking as it picked up more than $10 million in funding under the announcement.

City Clerk Rhonda Kirkwood said Integrity Engineering of Rolla is assisting with the water portion of the project. The largest of the two efforts is an $8 million wastewater treatment plant to bring the city up to state standards. It handles not only the resident population of the community, but the South Central Correctional Center on West Highway 32 that houses 1,600 inmates and employs about 500.

That piece is overseen by Archer-Elgin Surveying and Engineering LLC of Rolla, which will begin the design phase after a contract is signed. On the drawing board is developing detailed plans and specifications to be used for Missouri Department of Natural Resources as part of its permitting process and bidding on the construction work.

Jeff Medows, an engineer with the firm, said the ARPA funds must be spent by 2026. He said design and permitting will likely take 12-16 months. Construction would begin in mid- to late- 2024 and take about 18 months to complete.

In October, the council on a tie vote, with the Mayor Keith Cantrell breaking the vote, increased sewer rates to help in the grant process. Licking’s current rates did not allow it to generate sufficient revenue to support the plant.

In April 2019, voters approved two measures to make improvements to the water and sewer system: One was authority to issue about $1.45 million in revenue bonds and the second was for $2.35 million in general obligation bonds.

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