For Immediate Release - April 07, 2014

Patrick Administration Awards $542 Million in Loans to Fund Wastewater and Drinking Water Infrastructure Projects

Low-Cost Financing Offered for 80 Water Resources and Energy Projects Statewide

BOSTON - The Patrick Administration today announced that 80 projects across the Commonwealth are eligible to receive 2 percent interest loans to fund construction and planning projects designed to improve water quality, upgrade or replace aging wastewater infrastructure and cut treatment facility energy use and costs.

The low-cost financing, through the State Revolving Fund (SRF) administered by the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust (MWPAT), will fund projects implemented by 54 cities and towns, regional water supply and wastewater treatment districts, and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). The projects include 54 clean water initiatives totaling more than $415 million and 26 drinking water projects totaling more than $126 million. Communities offered SRF funding in this round must decide to move forward with the project by June 30 and secure local funding authority.

"These funds provide critical assistance to Massachusetts communities in order to upgrade our deteriorating water resources infrastructure," said Governor Deval Patrick. "We have a stake in leaving a better Commonwealth for the next generation, and by investing these funds today, we are protecting the environment of tomorrow, while continuing to expand our clean energy economy."  

"There aren't many things more important to the well-being of Massachusetts citizens than ensuring that cities and towns are able to finance their water infrastructure needs," said Treasurer Steven Grossman, who oversees the MWPAT. "I look forward to our continued partnership with local communities to guarantee that these critical water quality projects are provided with low-cost financial backing from the Commonwealth."

In accordance with the Clean Energy Results Program (CERP) under the direction of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), 24 of the 80 projects, representing millions of dollars, are for renewable energy or green infrastructure projects or green components of projects. Those projects would 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.

"SRF financing is essential to help keep essential drinking water and sewer infrastructure operating so that our citizens are fully protected," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan. "The inclusion of renewable and energy efficiency measures in these projects will also help to cut air emissions from treatment plants and reduce energy costs for municipalities and regional agencies."

"Through the Commonwealth's Energy Leaders Partnership Initiative under CERP, 125 municipal drinking water and wastewater plants are now working to reduce their energy use and costs. Today's SRF 'green' funding will add to that vital effort, and boost this part of the portfolio by more than 20 percent," said MassDEP Commissioner David W. Cash. "These energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that are tied to water infrastructure upgrades means not only a safer water supply, but lower energy costs for cities and towns."

Thirty-four of the projects that are in Environmental Justice (EJ) communities or are renewable energy projects are expected to receive some loan principal forgiveness during this round of funding. EJ communities are areas with below average Median Household Income levels. They can also be communities of color that may experience a disproportionate share of environmental burdens.

The SRF is comprised of two programs: the Clean Water Fund, which has awarded more than $5.7 billion in loans since the program's inception in 1991; and the Drinking Water Fund, which has awarded more than $1.4 billion in projects since it began in 1999.

This year, the Clean Water SRF funds 15 planning, eight carry-over and 31 construction projects, such as wastewater treatment facilities and upgrades to existing sewer systems. The Drinking Water SRF funds seven carry-over and 19 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.

"These grants will allow communities to make critical reforms to their wastewater infrastructure, including the towns of Falmouth and Plymouth in my District," said Senate President Murray. "I am proud of the Commonwealth for taking the lead on water and wastewater reform efforts to protect the health of our residents and the environment."

"These funds will help us preserve and maintain the quality of our waterways, including Belle Isle Inlet, by making investments that will garner environmental and public health results for years to come," said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. "I thank the Patrick Administration and Commissioner Cash for their attention to this important matter."

"These projects are critical for the Massachusetts communities that depend on clean, reliable water for everyday use," said Senator Stephen M. Brewer, Chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. "By providing funding for various planning and maintenance projects, we will improve water access throughout the state."

"I am pleased to see the Patrick Administration make investments to improve water quality and support sustainability," said Senator Marc R. Pacheco, Senate Chairman of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. "These projects will make needed upgrades to wastewater and drinking water treatment facilities across the Commonwealth and limit their energy consumption through more energy efficient technologies."

"These loans, administered by the Trust, will provide 54 cities and towns with the opportunity to improve their water infrastructure and to provide improved services to their residents," said Representative Brian S. Dempsey, Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means. "Effective programs like this help our cities and towns to achieve their long-term goals of reducing operational costs and improving efficiency and the conservation of our natural resources."

"Water infrastructure is vital to the health, safety and welfare of the Commonwealth," said Representative Anne Gobi, House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. "These funds allow municipalities to keep their water systems working and up to date."

Massachusetts awards infrastructure financing under the SRF, which is administered by the MWPAT - 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 drinking water quality benefits, have local funding authorization, and that there is a commitment on the borrower's part to file a timely loan application. The 80 projects on the 2014 Intended Use List must now file loan applications and receive MassDEP approval to obtain funding.

For a full listing of the 2014 Clean Water SRF projects SRF2014CW docx format of Clean Water SRF 2014 IUP  , or go to the following link for more information: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/water/grants/clean-water-state-revolving-fund.html

For a full listing of the 2014 Drinking Water SRF projects SRF2014DW docx format of Drinking Water SRF 2014  , or go to the following link for more information: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/water/grants/drinking-water-state-revolving-fund.html

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.

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