WATER DISASTERS – Lead Poisonings – Baker-Polito Administration Awards $610 Million in Loans to Fund Wastewater and Drinking Water Infrastructure Projects
BILLERICA — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that 86 projects, impacting communities across the Commonwealth, are eligible to receive $610.5 million in 2% interest-rate loans to fund construction and planning projects designed to improve water quality, upgrade or replace aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and cut treatment plant energy use and costs. The State Revolving Fund (SRF) awards were announced today by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and State Treasurer Deb Goldberg during an event in Billerica, which was awarded nearly $44 million in financing for four local water projects.
“Water infrastructure projects supported through this fund help Massachusetts’ municipalities increase the availability of clean, reliable drinking water and modernize essential water infrastructure,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our administration is committed to working with cities and towns across the Commonwealth to fortify water quality programs that protect our waters and public health.”
“State Revolving Fund financing is vital part of our efforts to help local officials comply with federal and state water quality requirements and update their aging wastewater and drinking water facilities,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our administration is pleased to use the SRF to provide the subsidized capital needed to build new treatment plants, replace water mains and install renewable energy components.”
“The State Revolving Fund, administered by the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust, provides local cities and towns the funds they need to finance water infrastructure projects,” said Treasurer Goldberg, Chair of the Clean Water Trust. “This is another example of the excellent work the Trust does saving our local communities money and protecting the health of the citizens and the environment.”
SRF financing is administered by the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust (MCWT) and funds projects implemented by cities and towns, regional water supply and wastewater treatment districts and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). The projects include 58 clean water initiatives (see Table 1) totaling more than $483.8 million and 28 drinking water projects (see Table 1) totaling more than $126.4 million. Communities offered SRF funding in this round must decide to move forward with the project by June 30, 2018 and secure local funding authority.
“Through the State Revolving Fund loan program, the Commonwealth partners with communities and water utilities across Massachusetts to protect water quality, while investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy to make delivery of these essential local services sustainable and more affordable,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton.
Fifteen of the projects receiving funding are for renewable energy, energy efficiency or green infrastructure initiatives. These projects involve energy efficiency upgrades to treatment plants and the on-site installation of renewable energy technologies, such as solar cells and wind turbines. Energy use at wastewater and drinking water treatment facilities is a major contributor to overall energy consumption for many cities and towns, with communities statewide spending approximately $150 million per year on electricity to treat 662 billion gallons of wastewater and drinking water. About 30 percent of municipal energy use derives from water treatment.
This year, 45 of the new projects are eligible to receive principal forgiveness. Principal forgiveness is awarded to renewable energy projects and for projects in communities that meet the affordability criteria established by the MCWT. The affordability criteria factors in per capita income, unemployment rate and population trends.
“These projects upgrade technology for important facilities in our communities,” said Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). “When we upgrade treatment plant equipment and processes or install renewable technologies, these facilities become more energy efficient, reduce air emissions, save ratepayers money and protect our natural resources.”
The SRF is composed of two programs that have provided more than $7 billion to Massachusetts projects: the Clean Water Fund, first capitalized in 1989; and the Drinking Water Fund, which began operation in 1999. More information on the two SRF programs can be found here.
This year, the Clean Water SRF provides more than $484 million in financing for clean water projects across the Commonwealth. Approximately $442 million will fund 39 new construction projects, $21 million will be allocated towards funding five previously approved multi-year projects, $3 million has been allocated to the emergency set-aside account, $5 million will be directed to the Community Septic Management Program to remediate failed septic systems in participating communities, and $12 million will fund 13 proposed planning projects.
The Drinking Water SRF provides more than $126.4 million in financing for drinking water projects across the Commonwealth. Approximately $93 million will fund 22 new construction projects, $29.9 million will be allocated towards funding five previously approved multi-year projects, $3 million will fund an emergency set-aside account, and $250,000 is allocated for a single planning project.
“I appreciate that the Baker-Polito Administration has continued the SRF program,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), House Chair of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “It is critical to the mission of our communities ensuring clean water, a clean environment, and providing opportunities for development.”
“This SRF funding is vital for the improvement and upkeep of our water infrastructure, as well as the well-being of our environment and local economy,” said State Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “These funds will allow Billerica to modernize its sewers, treatment plants and pump stations to increase the availability of clean drinking water in the town, while at the same time increasing job opportunities for our workforce.”
“I am grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration for $44 million in funding. This administration cares about the projects our community brings forward to the Commonwealth and I truly appreciate their partnership with Billerica,” said State Representative Marc T. Lombardo (R-Billerica).
“With the SRF awards, Fall River will be able to make investments in the city’s infrastructure and water quality, while also promoting economic growth,” said State Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport). “The importance of protecting public health in our communities cannot be overstated, and I thank the Baker-Polito Administration for their efforts.”
“The SRF Programs have enabled the Town of Billerica to sustain an aggressive 20-year capital plan with over $70 million of water and wastewater projects during the past eight years,” said Billerica Town Manager John Curran.
Massachusetts awards infrastructure financing under the SRF, which is administered by the MCWT – a joint effort of MassDEP, the Executive Office of Administration and Finance and the State Treasurer’s Office.
To be eligible for Clean Water or Drinking Water SRF loans, municipalities, wastewater districts and water suppliers filed applications with MassDEP last year demonstrating that proposed projects offer significant public health or water quality benefit, have local funding authorization and that there is a commitment on the borrower’s part to file a timely loan application. The projects on the 2018 SRF list must now file loan applications and receive MassDEP approval to obtain funding.
Continuing its commitment to protect the waters of the Commonwealth, in March 2017 the Baker-Polito Administration filed legislation to allow MassDEP to join forty-six other states in administering the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) for federal water quality protection, which would allow the Commonwealth greater oversight of water quality monitoring, assessment, and water quality standards programs and empower the state to work even more cooperatively with Massachusetts’ cities and towns to preserve and protect our water resources.
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.