The city of Marlin is getting more than $10.5 million in financial assistance to help fix the town’s aging water infrastructure, four years after Marlin residents spent Thanksgiving night and the next week without water.
The Texas Water Development Board approved last month the $10.58 million in financial assistance for Marlin. The city applied for the funding early this year and expects to receive the first round of money next month, City Manager Cedric Davis said.
About $3.1 million of the total $10.58 million is a no-interest loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which is also providing $1.19 million in grants, according to a press release. Another $2.33 million comes in the form of a no-interest loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which is also providing $4 million in grants.
“I’m excited the state granted that money,” Davis said. “We’re trying to self-repair. This city has been through a lot, but it’s not the end of this city. It’s a resilient little town, and I’m discovering that every day.”
Davis, who became city manager in May, went to Austin with other city officials in October to ask the Water Development Board to approve the city’s application. The first disbursement of funds will cover costs associated with conducting an engineering study of the water system and design of improvements.
Actual construction likely will not start until August, Davis said. After work crews tear up streets to replace decades-old water pipes, the city will have money from these loans to cover the costs of street repairs, as well, he said.
Davis said the city is paying the price of neglecting its water systems for decades.
The night of Thanksgiving 2015, about 6,000 Marlin residents lost all city water service, according to Tribune-Herald archives. The disruption in water service forced businesses and schools to close and left the county jail, two prison units, a nursing home and a hospital struggling to maintain operations.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality cited the city for 13 major violations at the water plant in 2015 and forced the city to issue a boil-water order. A plume of sludge clogged a water filter, which caused the system to fail. The city had to repair numerous major leaks and order a new $164,000 filter.
The city plans to use the Water Development Board funds to improve its stormwater and water systems. Marlin will use the $4.25 million from the Clean Water fund to finance the planning, design and construction of a drainage system improvement project that includes replacing the existing stormwater collection system and constructing a new water quality pond.
The $6.33 million from the Drinking Water fund will finance the planning, design and construction of improvements to the water system. Marlin will refurbish its water treatment plant, remove an abandoned clear well and replace about 7 miles of water lines, among other fixes intended to reduce water loss.
The Clean Water and Drinking Water revolving funds are both administered by the state and include a combination of state and federal funding.