Riceboro, which has been looking to sink a well in McIntosh County for years, has received a $1.25 million grant for improvements to its water and sewer infrastructure, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration said Friday.
Riceboro Mayor Bill Austin called the announcement welcome news and said the city also is looking for more funding to begin the project.
“This is something we’ve been working on for the last four years and it helps complete a process we think will benefit citizens in this county and surrounding counties who depend upon us for employment,” Austin said, referring to the city’s largest employer, SNF Chemtall.
The press release, which didn’t mention SNF Chemtall by name, said the grant will “will boost water capacity in the town of Riceboro to support the expansion plans of a major manufacturer of water-soluble polymers. According to grantee estimates, the investment is expected to retain 500 jobs, create 100 new jobs, and generate $8 million in private investment.”
SNF Chemtall Vice President David Kaye said the project will help both the city and Chemtall continue to grow.
“Obviously we support the city in its application,” Kaye said. “To support the city, support our present and future growth and to protect what we have.”
Riceboro is having to look to McIntosh County for water since the city is in the state Environmental Protection Division’s “yellow zone,” and is facing a limit on water withdrawals due to concerns over saltwater intrusion into the Floridan aquifer, according to the EPD.
McIntosh remains in the EPD’s “green zone.”
Austin said the city’s plan to bolster its water infrastructure is “probably one of the first initiatives of its kind in the Georgia. It responds to the governor’s mandate to develop alternative water sources to mitigate saltwater intrusion.”