Eighty-nine clean water and drinking water projects in 67 communities, regional water supply and wastewater treatment districts have been awarded more than $512 million in low-interest loans to fund construction and planning projects to improve water quality, upgrade or replace aging sewer infrastructure, and cut treatment facility energy use and costs.
The 2-percent interest loans, through the State Revolving Fund (SRF) administered by the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust, will fund 54 clean water projects totaling more than $391 million and 35 drinking water initiatives totaling nearly $121 million.
Thirty-two of the 89 projects, or more than $337 million of the total $512 million, are for renewable-energy or green-infrastructure projects or green components of projects. Those projects involve energy-efficiency upgrades to treatment plants and the on-site installation of renewable-energy technologies such as solar cells and hydro-electric power.
Energy use at wastewater and drinking water treatment facilities is a major contributor to overall energy consumption for many municipalities, with communities statewide spending approximately $150 million per year on electricity to treat 662 billion gallons of wastewater and drinking water. Approximately 30 percent of municipal energy use derives from water treatment.
“The projects supported by SRF funding help communities across the state improve water quality in our rivers, lakes and estuaries, and also protect the public health,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan. “The renewable and energy efficiency measures included in the projects will also help to cut air emissions from treatment plants and stabilize municipal energy costs.”
MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell added that the treatment facilities “combine energy efficiency savings and renewable energy production from solar and hydro to upgrade their operations, leading to significant budget savings that are good for communities and the environment.”
Using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, 39 of the projects that are in Environmental Justice (EJ) communities are expected to receive some loan principal forgiveness. EJ communities are areas with below-average Median Household Income levels, and communities of color that may experience a disproportionate share of environmental burdens and often lack environmental assets in their neighborhood.
The SRF comprises two programs: the Clean Water Fund, which has awarded approximately $5.3 billion in loans since the program’s inception in 1991; and the Drinking Water Fund, which has awarded approximately $1.3 billion in projects since it began in 1999.
This year, the Clean Water SRF funds 15 planning, four carry-over and 35 construction projects, such as wastewater treatment facilities and upgrades to existing sewer systems. The Drinking Water SRF funds two planning, nine carry-over and 24 construction projects; these funds support the engineering, design and construction of drinking water facilities and systems that protect public health and strengthen compliance with state and federal drinking water requirements.
For a full listing of the Clean Water SRF projects for 2013, see Table No. 1 at: 2013 Final Clean Water Intended Use Plan
For a full listing of the Drinking Water SRF projects for 2013, see Table No. 1 at: 2013 Final Drinking Water Intended Use Plan