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NJUS Board Asks Common Council to Approve $6M ADEC Loan

A close-up view of a utility meter on the side of a Nome building.

Two resolutions were passed at last night’s meeting of the Nome Joint Utility System Board.

Resolutions 17-10 and 17-11 both request that the Nome Common Council approve and accept loans granted by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (or ADEC) on part of the Alaska Drinking Water and Clean Water funds, respectively.

These ADEC loans provide partial funding for improvements to community water infrastructure, such as projects notated by Utility Manager John Handeland as “serious need,” relating to the replacement of aged and failing utilities.

The proposed loan amount would total over $6 million, but it falls short of an estimated $13-15 million needed for the complete cost of “Sclaircore Replacement Project, Phase III.” In a response to a question asked by Board Chairman Carl Emmons, concerning the need of the proposed loan, Handeland suggested that securing this loan from ADEC can assist in further financing proposals to other agencies.

As Handeland explains:

“The overall Phase III project is much bigger than just this application. And so, when we go to USDA, we will submit the entire big project to them, and say ‘Ok, we have managed to secure this part of funding, and so this is the increment we’re looking at.’”

Additional considerations taken by the board before accepting the proposed ADEC loan include: its low-interest rate, a present lack of grant opportunities, and the recent defunding of a State-run Municipal Matching Grants program.

The Nome Common Council needs to accept and approve the Alaska Drinking Water and Clean Water fund loans by September 15th for NJUS to receive the funds.

In other news, though the regular fuel loan payments to Northrim Bank are underway, a breached hull on the barge scheduled to bring the fuel delivery after Labor Day could affect the delivery plan. NJUS awaits a progress report to determine if any logistical changes to the delivery will occur.

The NJUS Board meeting ended in executive session. The next scheduled meeting for the NJUS board will take place on September 19th.

Image at top: Utility meter in Nome. Photo: Matthew Smith, KNOM.