BERLIN -- Berlin representatives journeyed to Savannah last week to pick up a check for $500,000.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs awarded the city of 556 residents a community development block grant to help pay for water line improvements.

Berlin will "revamp" the whole system for better water pressure, installing new lines throughout the city, Mayor Mike Davis said. The old lines were unmarked, and the blueprints were unreliable, he said.

"We'll be able to locate (a problem) when a pipe or something does bust instead of having to tear up the whole street," he said.

The city hired former Moultrie city manager Bob Roberson to write the grant almost five months ago, Davis said. Bob Roberson and Associates is a Moultrie consulting firm that advises local governments on economic development and electric services, among other things.

Berlin made a local commitment of $93,000 in matching funds. The money will come from the newly passed special purpose local option sales tax for Colquitt County. Aside from the block grant Berlin is also spending $57,000 on other water system improvements and extensions.

"That sort of local commitment demonstrates to these state agencies that there's a lot of interest locally in seeing it carried out," Roberson said. "And the severity of need is pretty apparent. When you take a look at that water distribution system down there, there were multiple houses being served off really small lines, and they had some real problems with water pressure at certain times of the day."

More important, fire protection was compromised by blocks and blocks of residences being served by 2-inch wide or smaller water lines, he said.

"It's wonderful. Maybe we can get everything accomplished with that that we need to get done," Davis said.

Bids for construction may come out in January, he said. The project should last for a year.

-- By Lori Glenn

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