For Immediate Release - July 25, 2014

Officials Celebrate 25th Anniversary of Creation of Water Trust and $6b Statewide Investment

Landmark Legislation Has Led to Dramatically Improved Water Quality in Commonwealth

BOSTON – State and federal officials today gathered on Deer Island in Boston to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust (MWPAT), an agency that has provided more than $6 billion in subsidized loans through the State Revolving Fund (SRF) to cities and towns for clean water and drinking water infrastructure development.

25th Anniversary of the State Revolving Fund and the Mass. Water Pollution Abatement Trust
The 25th anniversary of the State Revolving Fund and the Mass. Water Pollution Abatement Trust was celebrated at the Deer Island treatment plant by: (l-r) Senator Jamie Eldridge, Representative Carolyn Dykema, former Representative Emmet Hayes, who authored the legislation, Treasurer Steven Grossman, MassDEP Commissioner David W. Cash, EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding, MWRA Executive Director Fred Laskey and A&F Undersecretary Scott Jordan.

“Over a 25-year span, the MWPAT has provided needed relief to communities struggling to finance key water projects that provide for the health and well-being of their citizens,” said Treasurer Steven Grossman, who serves as the Chairman of the MWPAT. “The avoidance of interest payments at the municipal level has freed up hundreds of millions of dollars of additional capital to go to other important local priorities, such as transportation infrastructure, education and public safety.”

“The SRF program has been an engine for environmental protection and economic benefit in the Commonwealth,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett. “Thousands of construction workers and engineers have designed and built these projects, and the improvement in water quality over these last 25 years has been significant. The recent program focus on optimizing energy management at treatment facilities is the next great step forward under the SRF.”

“There is much to celebrate today. The Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust is a model program, leveraging local, state and federal resources with AAA-rated bonds to provide billions of dollars of benefit to the environment and the people of the Commonwealth,” said Undersecretary of Administration and Finance Scott Jordan, who sits on the MWPAT board and is the former executive director of the Trust.

“Massachusetts communities have used the SRF programs aggressively and successfully over the last generation to finance a wide array of important protections for public health and the environment,” said Commissioner David W. Cash of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, who also serves on the MWPAT board. “Projects include treatment plant improvements, elimination of sewer and stormwater overflows, reduction of energy use through efficiency and renewable energy generation projects and water main and sewer rehabilitation and construction.”

Legislation creating the MWPAT was signed into law in July of 1989 by Governor Michael Dukakis to help cities and towns meet the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act.  Since that time, more than $6 billion has been allocated in the form of low- and no-interest loans to communities with pressing drinking water and wastewater infrastructure needs. The original legislation was authored by former state representative Emmet Hayes, who represented the 7th Plymouth District.

“Twenty-five years ago we enacted legislation capturing millions of federal grant dollars and creating a municipal loan program for critical water and sewer improvements in the Commonwealth,” said former Representative Hayes, who attended the anniversary event. “In the intervening years that effort delivered clean drinking water, reduced water pollution and saved ratepayers millions of dollars – not a bad hat trick.”

“The loans provided by the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust have enabled countless community water projects over the last 25 years,” said Representative Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston). “The legacy of this important agency will be water infrastructure projects, including the Boston Harbor cleanup, that protect the public health, preserve our environment, and facilitate economic expansion statewide. The Trust’s 25th anniversary, and its future success, are occasions for every resident of the commonwealth to celebrate.”

“As we look back on what the condition of Boston Harbor used to be, before local, state and federal government rolled up our sleeves and began to undo centuries of pollution and neglect, it’s nearly impossible to overstate the importance of the hard work, collaboration and perseverance of public servants and citizen activists. EPA is proud of the work we all accomplished and we celebrate our clean, vital and living Boston Harbor. We thank all the dedicated professionals and citizens who played a part in this recovery,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s New England office.

The water quality improvements on and around Deer Island were some of the first projects to be funded through the MWPAT. At the time that the MWPAT was created, Boston Harbor was one of the dirtiest harbors in America. Today, thanks to the treatment facilities at Deer Island, Boston Harbor has been transformed into one of the cleanest in the country, and the $3.8 billion Deer Island project is recognized by many as one of the nation’s greatest environmental achievements.

“The SRF program has been one of the most important tools in the clean-up of Boston Harbor and its beaches,” said Fred Laskey, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. “With this commitment from our state and federal partners, we have seen firsthand the transformation of Boston Harbor from the dirtiest in America to a national environmental success story.”

An estimated 97 percent of Massachusetts’ citizens have benefited from the MWPAT’s financial assistance. Following the passage of a pending water infrastructure improvement bill in the state legislature, the MWPAT will be renamed the Clean Water Trust.

For more information about the MWPAT, turn here: http://www.mass.gov/treasury/affiliated-prog/wpat/

For more information about the State Revolving Fund, turn here: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/water/grants/state-revolving-fund.html

Commissioner Cash at Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant
MassDEP Commissioner David W. Cash delivers his comments in front of the flag-draped digester at the Deer Island wastewater treatment plant (July 25, 2014)

Tour of Sludge Digester Egg at the Deer Island treatment plant
Taking the tour atop the sludge digester egg at the Deer Island treatment plant are MassDEP staffers (l-r) Jeff Leonard, Elza Bystrom and John Felix, and former staffer Brian Jean.