Many small communities in Nebraska have facilities and infrastructure that are in dire need of replacement or upgrade simply due to age. The wastewater facility in Crawford (pop. 997) had been in service since the 1930s. When it started malfunctioning and incorrectly discharging, the community was faced with the decision to either upgrade or replace the entire system. While the cost to do either option was prohibitive, the town was left with no other options.
However, in 2012, Crawford was awarded $350,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to build a new wastewater facility. All communities seeking financial assistance for water-wastewater projects must be approved by the Water Wastewater Advisory Committee, which is comprised of different state and federal agencies that distribute water and wastewater-based funding options. Along with the CDBG, Crawford received $2,328,703 from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality’s Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund (DWSRLF), which was used to match the CDBG project activities. With Crawford only expending $296,642 in CDBG funds, the total project cost was $2,625,345. The project benefitted a total of 997 people, 601 who were low-to-moderate income persons (60.28% LMI).
Crawford’s situation helps highlight the necessity of these kinds of grant projects for smaller communities. Specifically, Crawford needed a new wastewater facility, which the CDBG funds and other sources, including the DWSRLF, helped them succeed in funding. The cost of carrying out this project without financial aid was prohibitive, so these kinds of services are necessary for communities to stay in compliance with state regulations. It is important that these funding sources exist for communities all throughout the state.
The project replaced the outdated wastewater treatment facility with a new facility that sits on a 200’ x 400’ plot of land. This new facility provides stable wastewater infrastructure that ensures safety and efficiency. The community also determined that the return on investment for a newer facility was much higher due to the age and disrepair of the previous system.
Construction began in late May 2013 and was completed in February 2014. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility occurred on September 25, 2014. The turn-around for project activities allowed the least amount of disruption to the daily function of the community and provided a necessary service as soon as possible. These kinds of projects are common throughout the state, which represents a consistent need to maintain and replace wastewater infrastructure. The importance of these CDBG grant projects cannot be overstated, since these types of facilities are used by every community, in some regard, throughout the state, regardless of the size of the community.