Panama City authorities have given green light to a plan that will invest $305 million in improvements to infrastructure for drinking water, wastewater and stormwater management, reports the Panama City News Herald.
The city’s ageing infrastructure has caused problems with sewer overflows and flooding over the past years, and especially after Hurricane Michael, a category 5 storm – the highest intensity – hit the country in 2018.
The project will last several years and will be funded with a mixture of disaster aid from federal sources and loans. The city will use relief money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as from the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program. However, because those funds will not cover the entire cost of the project, the City will also apply for two State Revolving Fund loans, for $113 million.
A $73 million loan will be put towards improvements to the drinking water system, and another $40 million loan will go towards upgrading the wastewater system. Of the $113 funds from the State, only 75$ has to be repaid, while the remaining 25% of it is forgivable, said Mayor Greg Brudnicki.
According to Brudnicki, the work to replace water pipelines in the urban area can take between 5 and 10 years. The top priority areas of work are the Glenwood and Millville communities, where work will be done first. Although some residents are concerned about disturbances once construction begins, upgrading the water lines is necessary to reduce water leaks and the need for notices advising the public to boil water.