Chickamauga awarded final $1.2 million grant, prepared to upgrade water system
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the U.S. Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) are awarding $1.2 million in grants ($720,135/ EDA, $462,544/ARC) to the city of Chickamauga to make critical water improvements needed to protect the local business community from fire and other threats.
The improved infrastructure will serve a major flooring manufacturing company and will encourage business expansions and recruitment to the region. According to grantee estimates, the project will help protect 1,000 jobs and $100 million in private investment.
That is what the officials said when Chickamauga was awarded the fifth, and final, grant that will allow upgrading its water system.
What it means is that property in the area of U.S. Highway 27 between Shaw Industries’ S/I plant, just north of West Chickamauga Creek, and the Food Lion shopping plaza can support new commercial development.
Securing this latest grant, along with others, will fund an infrastructure project — with an originally estimated price tag of about $2.6 million — aimed at assuring increased delivery volume and stabilize pressure throughout the city-owned water utility.
“We commend the city of Chickamauga and local leaders for their focus on helping to protect and grow their local manufacturing base,” Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs Dennis Alvord said in announcing the EDA grant. “The vital infrastructure improvements will help protect businesses from the menace posed by fire and make the region more attractive to future business development.”
Measures to improve the safety and commercial viability of the area were made clear when a series of unforeseeable events threatened the city’s water supply.
A ruptured water main left some residents in the area near the city schools without water for almost 20 hours during the 2013 Christmas holidays.
Next, in the summer of 2014, the main pump at the city’s primary well was destroyed by a lightning strike. The next summer — and again in 2015 — a six-inch water main breaking caused major traffic headaches on U.S. Highway 27.
If that wasn’t enough to warrant concern, a valve failed, not once but twice, near the Food Lion shopping center. The loss of water from the utility’s own wells resulted in the city having to pay for about 200,000 gallons of water from the Walker County Water & Sewerage System