The Town of Alford is getting a $600,000 state grant to make its water system more resilient to storms. The town’s Mayor George Gay says when Hurricane Michael hit, winds toppled trees, and as they fell over, their roots pulled water pipes out of the ground. He says water leaked out of those pipes, causing about a quarter of the town’s residents to lose access to water.
“What we realized at that point is we had to upgrade water to get to [the] point that we wouldn’t run into this in the future,” Gay says.
Gay says residents can be impacted by a pipe leak that’s on the other side of town. He says that’s because water must flow throughout the town to get from one well to another. But he says the grant will fund a new pipe that will directly connect the two wells, allowing residents far away from the leak to access their water still. The grant will also pay for new fire hydrants and an additional fuel tank for the town’s emergency generator.
Gay says the town’s aging population and small size mean property taxes don’t generate enough revenue to support big infrastructure projects. So, state funding is critical to updating the town’s water system. And Gay hopes state dollars will continue to come to Alford. His goal is to eliminate the area’s septic tanks and connect residents to a central sewer system in Marianna. He says during Hurricane Michael, many residents’ septic tanks became flooded, and now when there’s heavy rain, the tanks don’t work.
“To replace these septic systems is anywhere between $6,000 – $10,000. If you take a resident on Social Security, they’re only bringing in $2,000 a month. They can’t very likely bag groceries, their food and get a septic system repaired. So they go lacking,” Gay says.