Blackshear was awarded a $1,264,000 Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) loan last week by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) board of directors.

The loan will finance replacing manual-read water meters with an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system. This project will reduce leaks, increase billing accuracy, and improve meter reading efficiency.

“This loan will be a great help with the replacement of the meters,” Blackshear Mayor Kevin Grissom said. “The new meters will be a significant improvement over what we have.”

The new meters should be in place by the end of next year.

The city will pay 0.13% on the 20-year loan. The loan will finance a conservation project, which qualifies for a reduced interest rate. The city is eligible for principal forgiveness up to $631,708.

The DWSRF provides low-interest loans for infrastructure projects that deliver safe, affordable drinking water. These projects conserve and improve water resources and facilitate economic development. The program is jointly funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Georgia.

GEFA provides loan financing at a reduced interest rate for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at water and wastewater treatment plants, landfills, and municipal solid waste facilities; water conservation projects in the areas of water loss and end-use water efficiency; and nonpoint source land conservation projects.

GEFA, headquartered in Atlanta, provides financing for a variety of energy, land, and water projects. Since 1985, GEFA has approved financial commitments totaling more than $5 billion to local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations.