N. C. Communities Awarded $27 Million in Water Infrastructure Projects


The State Water Infrastructure Authority has approved $27 million in grants that will help pay for 17 water infrastructure projects statewide. 


The project funding was approved at the Authority’s April 14 meeting and was made available through the Division of Water Infrastructure’s Community Development Block Grant-Infrastructure (CDBG-I) program.


The purpose of CDBG-I funding is construction of public water and sewer infrastructure to mitigate public and environmental health problems in areas where the percentage of low to moderate income persons is at least 51 percent.


Notable projects in the latest CDBG-I funding round include:

  • Saratoga (Wilson County): This $1.6 million project extends sewer service to homes on three streets in Saratoga, possible because of the grant’s funding of a new sewer interconnection under construction between Saratoga and the City of Wilson.  Twenty-two low-income homes will be served, with a 5500 linear feet sewer line, a pump station with a wet well, and a generator.
  • Saint Pauls (Robeson County): This $2 million project (with a $4.3 million match from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund) enables construction of a new wastewater treatment plant, pump station and force main to treat the town’s wastewater, an important action since the current plant is on the edge of Big March Swamp and floods during heavy rains. 

A list of all projects funded this round through the CDBG-I program statewide by town and/or county is available at: Funded projects, CDBG-I, April 2021


“These projects will have significant impacts on communities where funding assistance is often particularly impactful for public health and economic opportunity,” said Kim Colson, director of the Division of Water Infrastructure and chair of the State Water Infrastructure Authority.


In other meeting action, the Authority approved and/or adjusted distressed utility designations for 111 water systems across the state studied by the Division of Water Infrastructure and the Local Government Commission (LGC) of the N. C. Department of State Treasurer.  This determination is an important first step in allocating $9 million in funding made available through Viable Utility Reserve legislation. The Authority designated 8 units as distressed at previous meetings.

After considering additional information from the utilities on the list of potentially distressed utilities, the following determination was made:

  • 87 Local Government Units (LGUs) were identified as distressed.
  • 18 were placed on hold pending additional evaluation.
  • three were removed from the list when it was determined the LGUs no longer owned their utility.
  • three received a reduced score, removing them from distressed designation.

The distressed unit designation is based on criteria approved by the Authority in Nov. 2020. In tandem with the LGC, the Authority developed the criteria and assessment process to identify distressed units, a critical step in assisting struggling water and wastewater systems and leading them toward long-term solutions. The criteria were used to evaluate 496 local government units with water and/or sewer systems. The Authority’s Statewide Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Master Plan provides three focal areas – organizational, financial, and infrastructure that are necessary for viable utilities and the distressed criteria identify utilities that struggle in these areas.  To learn more about the Division’s Viable Utility Program, visit: deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/water-infrastructure/viable-utilities


During the meeting, the Authority also approved a $100,000 Emergency Operating Grant for the town of Robersonville to assist with their operating deficits. Robersonville has been designated a distressed unit.


The State Water Infrastructure Authority is an independent body with primary responsibility for awarding federal and state funding for water and wastewater infrastructure projects. Other responsibilities include developing a state water infrastructure master plan, recommending ways to maximize the use of available loan and grant funding resources, and examining best and emerging practices.


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