Long Awaited Grant Comes Through
Thursday, August 30, 2012
City receives $12 million from FEMA for sewer separation, flood wall
OTTUMWA — After four years of planning, review and anticipation, the city of Ottumwa was notified it will receive more than $12 million in federal grant money.
The city was awarded $12,166,575 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
The grant will take care of 75 percent of the cost of the $16.22 million project. The city is also receiving $1,622,000 from the state, and the city will provide a local match of $2,433,000, though it will be helped by a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), said Public Works Director Larry Seals.
“This has been going on for four years,” Seals said. “It really started after the flood of 2008, and FEMA announced the program in late 2008.”
Seals said the long wait “is just the FEMA process.”
“By the time we go through different levels of review, of engineering review and the full set of preliminary plans, they want to make sure the project is feasible before they fund it,” Seals said. “There were multiple steps of environmentals we had to jump through, and you don’t start one step until the previous one has been cleared. By the time all that is done, it adds up.”
Seals said in conversations with the city’s consulting firm, Veenstra and Kimm, they noted one city that waited seven years before they were awarded a FEMA grant.
“I guess it’s just the nature of the beast,” Seals said.
The money will go toward the West End Sewer Separation Project, part of the overarching, unfunded, federally mandated sewer separation project. It will also put a flood wall around Ottumwa Water and Hydro, build a storm water pump station and update gate well structures in the existing levee that will convey overland storm water into the Des Moines River.
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