SPRINGFIELD, Fla. (WMBB) — Springfield commissioners approved two Department of Environmental Protection loans for water and sewer improvements at a meeting Monday night.

This is the next step in the city’s plan to overhaul its infrastructure as it continues to grow.

“We committed back before the hurricane to redo all of our water, sewer, and infrastructure,” Springfield Mayor Ralph Hammond said. “This is another phase of that. We just finished up with all our lift stations. That was about a year and a half, almost two years worth of work.”

Improvements will start with Phase 1 in areas surrounding 14th street.

The project will then jump to Phase 4 in the Bay Harbor area since Hammond said its infrastructure is in some of the worst shape.

He said the brand-new piping will last 25-30 years.

“It’ll be better quality for drinking water,” Hammond said. “We’re still using terracotta pipe in the older parts of town, like over in Bay Harbor. You won’t have the leakage, you won’t have the spillage and you won’t have the breakage. So that’s all considered into it environmentally.”

The DEP loans are small city loans, so most of the money is forgiven.

Hammond said of the almost $11 million loan for water, $8.5 million will be forgiven. Sewer is a $7.5 million loan, and $5 million will be forgiven.

The city will pay back its share using water and sewer funds, as well as the half-cent utility surtax, which can only be used for infrastructure.

“Once we get all this done, we’ll start seeing the savings,” Hammond said “They’ll hold monthly water and sewer rates down. In fact, we might even be able to drop them a little bit, but we’re still looking three or four years down the road before it’s all complete.”

Hammond said in a perfect world, phases 1 and 4 will be complete in about a year and a half.

All told, the infrastructure overhaul for the whole city will end up being a $35 million project.