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Cottonwood Shores eyes $267K in federal funding for water system improvements

ERCOT control room

In February, due to unprecedented freezing weather and electric generators offline, the Energy Reliability Council of Texas ordered rolling blackouts, which led to Cottonwood Shores water customers losing service for several days. Now, the city is eyeing federal funding to shore up its infrastructure to reduce the chance of such interruption from occurring in the future. Photo courtesy of ERCOT

The city of Cottonwood Shores is eligible for more than $267,000 in federal funding, which could help cover repairs from the February winter storm that left residents without water for several days.

During its June 17 meeting, the City Council approved a $50 agreement with Grant Development Services to apply for money from the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package that Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed in March.  

After reviewing preliminary federal documentation, city staff told councilors that Cottonwood Shores is eligible for $267,533. 

City Administrator J.C. Hughes said the money, if it’s awarded, will go to buying two generators: one for the water plant and another for Lift Station No. 5, the largest lift station in the city. 

“We decided to use it for our highest needs,” he said. 

The generator at the water plant will ensure water won’t freeze if temperatures drop below 32 degrees and electricity at the facility is cut off. That’s what happened in February when temperatures plunged into the 20s and 30s due to an arctic blast that remained in place for a week.  

Rolling blackouts ordered by the Energy Reliability Council of Texas and the cold temperatures froze water within the city’s infrastructure, leaving residents and customers without service for several days.

Hughes said the projected cost for both generators and installation is $300,000.

“We’re applying for the maximum amount (of the American Rescue Plan money),” he said. 

The only question for city leaders is finding out how the money will be distributed. Since the federal government approved the American Rescue Plan, officials believe money will go to the state first for distribution to the local level. State leaders haven’t announced how they will reallocate the federal money. 

“We expect the government to announce it soon,” Hughes said. “We’re ready to react as soon as they let us know.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com