By Stefanie Jackson – Exmore has been approved for more than $3 million in principal forgiveness on a $10 million loan from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for the expansion of the town’s sewer system.
“We appreciate DEQ’s support of this essential infrastructure project and thank everyone involved for their hard work and efforts,” said Mayor Douglas Greer.
“Our citizens will benefit greatly from this loan forgiveness and our citizens are always a top priority in our decision making,” he said.
DEQ originally offered Exmore a loan of up to $17 million, but the town plans to borrow no more than $10 million.
Furthermore, the full loan amount DEQ offered Exmore for its sewer project may not be necessary because the town will build out its collection system, but it won’t build a new treatment plant.
Exmore will connect to the force main that will be built by the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD), and Exmore’s sewage will be transported and treated at Onancock’s sewer plant, which has excess capacity.
“Concerned with keeping use rates as low as possible for residents, Town officials will maintain ownership of the wastewater system and bill customers directly; the only municipality in the HRSD to have this restraint over cost increases,” an Exmore press release stated May 17.
Exmore’s sewer treatment plant, which is under a Virginia Department of Health consent order, will be decommissioned.
The town plans to expand its collection system to serve up to 900 customers, up from the current limit of 350.
In addition to the DEQ funding, other possible funding sources for the sewer project include the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA), from which Exmore requested a $6 million loan.
The town anticipates USDA will offer about $2 million in principal forgiveness, or approximately one-third of the loan – similar to DEQ’s offer.
Exmore also has applied for up to $1 million in Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Block Grant funds, a process that is highly competitive this year, with only $8.8 million in funding available from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.