By RICHARD JENKINS firstname.lastname@example.org BESSEMER TOWNSHIP – Bessemer Township will receive $7.36 million in federal funding to update its water and sewer system. The funding – a mix of loan and grant money – is one of 161 projects nationwide the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development is devoting $462 million to, USDA Rural Development announced Monday. The money will be used to replace over two miles of water and sewer mains and upgrade a pump station, according to information from USDA Rural Development, as part of Bessemer Township’s continuing efforts to reduce the amount of stormwater entering the township’s sewer system. “With the sewer system in Ramsay being so old, we’ve been continually working on it – we’ve done projects in the past to eliminate the inflow and infiltration of the groundwaters that tend to overwhelm our sewer lagoons, our pumps and our system,” Township Supervisor Jeff Randall said, adding there has been instances when the township has had to release sewage into the rivers to prevent it from backing up into basements. “We’re always continually working towards getting rid of (those problems).” Randall said the project will focus on the township’s “New Location” of Highland Avenue, Belmont Avenue and Verona Road. The township’s funding is split between a $2,798,000 loan and a $4,562,000 grant to update the system – parts of which, according to the announcement, were originally built in the 1920s. Roughly 66% of the project’s costs are covered by grant funds, Randall said, adding the large price tag was because the township decided to include the water mains in with the sewer project. “We decided we would tackle the water mains at the same time, that’s why it’s so much,” Randall said. “We figured since the roads are being opened with the sewer mains and we are taking sewer mains out of the alleys behind people’s houses and putting them … on the edge of the road so its more easily accessible – we figured since we’ve got the road open for that, let’s do the water at the same time.” Along with the funding assistance, Randall said using USDA loans means the township will be paying a lower interest rate of 1.375%. “Which is huge. When we first started looking at this project we were looking at 2.25% and now we’re down to a percentage like that, that is just amazing,” Randall said. “That’s going to save us tens of thousands of dollars here in the next few years.” Now that the money has been approved, details are being finalized and Randall hopes to have the project put out to bid and work underway in either 2021 or 2022 depending on how things progress. Although there may be some temporary issues while individual houses are connected to the new system, Randall said he doesn’t expect major service interruptions during the project. Along with Bessemer Township, Houghton County is receiving a $87,000 loan and a $138,000 grant to continue to replace its sewer main at certain locations throughout the county.