Gautier awarded $2.5M to improve water quality, environmental infrastructure

Gautier awarded $2.5M to improve water quality, environmental infrastructure

GAUTIER, Miss. (WLOX) - Gautier is working to improve the quality of the city’s water, an issue that has been a concern of residents and city leaders for years.

Mayor Phil Torjusen announced Tuesday that the city has been awarded $2.5 million in federal funding assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That money is in addition to the $2.3 million in RESTORE Act funds the city received last summer to use for improving the water.

The city will install a new sanitary sewer system consisting of gravity lines, force mains, and a lift station to transport the sewer to the existing wastewater treatment plant. The new lines will be installed along Old Spanish Trail and Gautier Vancleave Road.

The city initially budgeted $6 million from a revenue bond for the design and construction of the nanofiltration water treatment plant, which will treat three million gallons a day. This facility will work contemporaneously with the city’s ionization plant that currently treats one million gallons a day.

This file photo from 2017 shows a bathtub in Gautier being filled with water. Despite being safe to drink, the brown water has long been a concern for many residents.
This file photo from 2017 shows a bathtub in Gautier being filled with water. Despite being safe to drink, the brown water has long been a concern for many residents. (Source: WLOX)

Critical improvements will include an additional well and piping to address aging infrastructure and increase the city’s capacity.

“Gautier’s overburdened water supply system affects the safety and quality of life of current residents and risks the long-term economic vitality of the city,” Torjusen said. “Remedying these deficiencies will not only bring Gautier into compliance with state and federal regulations, but also will improve water aesthetics and environmental quality of the Mississippi coast, including the fragile habitats of coastal waters.”

The funding assistance through the Army Corps environmental infrastructure program was crucial to ensuring the city could complete the upgrade and move forward with water infrastructure improvements.

“Gautier is committed to providing all residents with safe, clear water and has worked to address shortcomings of existing infrastructure through a comprehensive multi-year water resource improvement program,” Torjusen said. “With the strong support of our congressional delegation, specifically Congressman Steven Palazzo and Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, our city will be able to make significant improvements to our water supply while bolstering environmental protection.”

“I am grateful to know that our efforts on the appropriations committee have led to the desired outcome,” said Rep. Palazzo. “The residents of Gautier deserve to have access to strong environmental infrastructure that will maintain safe drinking water and open up opportunities for economic development. The health and safety of my constituents is my top priority and I am glad to know that Gautier residents will soon have clearer water."

“Congress gives the Army Corps the discretion to allocate funding to projects that are underfunded but would have a near-term positive impact on public health and safety,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate appropriations subcommittee that funds the Army Corps. “This additional funding will help Gautier achieve critical water quality services for its residents and important industries.”

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