Scott County and Big Stone Gap in Southwest Virginia will receive a combined $4.4 million in grants and loans for water and sewer projects, thanks to a U.S. Department of Agriculture program.

USDA’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program will provide the Scott County Public Service Authority with $269,000 in loans and $269,000 in grants and Big Stone Gap with $1.76 million in loans and $2.09 million in grants.

The federal funding is part of $10.4 million going to water improvement projects in rural Virginia, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both Democrats, announced Wednesday in a news release.

The USDA program provides funding for drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal and storm water drainage to households as well as businesses.

Scott County will use the money to help finish a project it started in September to put a sewer line in the Daniel Boone community. Though the Public Service Authority already received millions in USDA funding to complete the project, Mike Dishman, director of the authority, said all the bids came in over budget. He added that the funding allows them to add back into the project parts that had to be cut due to those budget constraints.

He added that many residents currently pipe raw sewage straight into Little Moccasin Creek, which is not in compliance with Virginia’s sewage handling and disposal regulations.

“It’s a big plus for the environment and for residents,” Dishman said.

If more federal funding can be obtained for the project, he said the sewer line will be extended past the Hob-Nob Drive-In on Daniel Boone Road.

Big Stone Gap will use its money to make improvements to the town’s drinking water distribution system. Town Manager Stephen Lawson said the system is fine for now, but it is old and they have noticed lower than normal pressure levels in certain areas. Should pressure in the system get too low, cross contamination with groundwater may occur, which would allow pathogens to enter the water system.

Construction includes replacement of approximately 33,500 feet of water line, installation of master meters, replacement of water meters, a pump station upgrade and related appurtenances. | 276-645-2512 | Twitter: @Leif_Greiss

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