Winterhaven Water getting big fixes
There's federal money flowing in Winterhaven.
The Winterhaven Water District has picked up a $500,000 federal grant to improve its plant and other operations. And elsewhere in the small community, residents are being encouraged to improve their homes through loans and grant aid.
The more recent award, for the water system, makes it possible for the colonia's water district to make a wide range of repairs, including:
• Replacing the pump for the chlorine feeding system.
• Proper destruction of an inactive well.
• Recoating two water tanks.
• Repair to the water tanks' asphalt base.
• Replacement of 11 non-functioning fire hydrants.
• Replacement of two pumps used in conjunction with potassium permanganate, a compound used in water treatment that controls taste, odors, color, among other things.
• Replacement of two generators to comply with clean air requirements.
• Overhaul of the improperly functioning wastewater lift station, which is the only means of wastewater disposal. Malfunction of the lift station could cause sewage overflow.
The project is funded by the Community Development Block Grant program administered by the state of California. Imperial County applied for the competitive award on behalf of the water district. The award was part of more than $2 million selected for various improvement projects in Imperial County.
The water district serves a small customer base and can find it hard to make expenses, said Imperial County Supervisor John Renison, whose district covers Winterhaven.
Meanwhile, it's harder for Yuma's neighboring California county to spend some of the other dollars it's gotten from the government.
Imperial County has hundreds of thousands of dollars to give to Winterhaven residents who want to improve their homes through a rehabilitation loan program. But the county isn't getting many takers — and if it doesn't by the end of the year, it loses the money.
Esperanza Colio, the Economic Development Division manager for Imperial County, said people seem afraid to take out a loan in this down economy, or appear skeptical of the program.
One homeowner has agreed to sign on. The resident's mobile home will be replaced at a cost of about $100,000.
That still leaves about $300,000 in the fund, enough to repair or rebuild two or three more homes, Colio said.
The grant ends on Dec. 31, and if the county shows that it at least has some clients in the pipeline, it can probably get an extension, Colio said. But if the county can't show it's working with people on their homes, it has to give the remaining money back to the state, which administers the grant.
Making use of the money is good for both residents and the county, officials say. For the latter, it gives a credibility boost when applying for future grants.
Here's an example of how the loan program works:
A family wants to get their house repaired. An inspector determines that the house is in such disrepair that it'd be better to tear it down and rebuild. If a new build costs $120,000 but an appraisal ultimately puts the finished home at a worth of $80,000, the family gets an $80,000 loan, and the remaining $40,000 is forgiven.
Payments on the loan are worked out to what the homeowner can afford, and many area residents would be low-income enough to have an interest rate of 1 or 2 percent, Colio said.
For more information, call Imperial County's Economic Development Division at 1-760-482-4900.
Hillary Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.