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Wilmington City Council approves over $50 million in Clean Water investments

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media

Wilmington City Council passed five ordinances Thursday, totaling over $50 million for water infrastructure projects across the city. It includes $14.5 million to install an 11th Street wastewater pump station and $12 million to repair about 9000 feet of the Price’s Run Interceptor sewer line.

Wilmington is investing around $25 million to repair the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant — rehab one of the digesters at the Wilmington Wastewater Treatment Plant, and replace aeration equipment, valving, instrumentation, and controls, and repair tanks and walkways.

The plant was built in the 1950’s and will see several massive upgrades in the next decade.

Councilman Chris Johnson sponsored the ordinance and says these projects are efforts to stay ahead of repairs and keep city water clean.

“We have some of the cleanest water in the area," Johnson says. "And it's really a testament to the substantial investment we've been making in clean water. And citizens don't like to see a slight water rate increase of $1 or $2 per year, but it's necessary to make sure we continue to have clean water.”

Now that council has approved the release of the bonds, Public Works Commissioner Kelly Williams says they can start the projects. She expects Price’s Run to begin in the fall, but the others will begin immediately.

“We have to keep on investing and keep on chipping away at some of these older parts of our system in order to keep it all together," Williams says. "There will never be a time where we don't need to invest in our infrastructure. So we will always be borrowing money to keep up, which is okay. As long as we keep up because we have to stay up to date, we have to provide the needs and the services and the clean drinking water that people deserve.”

Williams says those two projects also received a total of $2.6 million in principal forgiveness.

“Traditionally, the city has never received principal forgiveness," she says. "And principal forgiveness is starting to come through for the city because of the infrastructure money. So that's kind of an important factor for us. And then it has to do with the residents’ ability to pay for their utility bills or water sewer bills.”

She says the principal forgiveness from the state shows they are starting to recognize the pressure put on taxpayers to pay for these projects.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.