Patrick-Murray Administration Announces Low-Interest Loans
Low-Cost Financing Offered for 99 Projects Statewide as New Energy Focus is Added
The Commonwealth is offering low-cost SRF financing worth $540 million to 99 projects across the state, including projects implemented by cities and towns, regional water supply and wastewater treatment districts, and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA).
"The financing levels we're announcing today are the highest in the history of these programs, and represent a vitally important form of local aid for our cities and towns," said Governor Deval Patrick.
"This program is just one of the many ways our state government is working to help municipalities across Massachusetts, and it's a positive step toward strengthening our relationship with cities and towns," said Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray.
Administered by the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust - a joint effort of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), the Executive Office of Administration and Finance and the State Treasurer's Office - the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) has awarded over $3.38 billion in loans since the program's inception in 1991, and the Drinking Water SRF has financed nearly $791 million in projects since it began in 1999.
The Drinking Water SRF program provides financing for engineering, design and construction of drinking water projects that protect public health and strengthen compliance with state and federal drinking water regulations. Clean Water SRF loans are available for planning and construction of projects such as new wastewater treatment facilities and upgrades of existing facilities, wastewater collection systems, community programs to upgrade septic systems, brownfield and storm water remediation projects, and non-point source pollution abatement.
Projects selected for loans in 2008 include replacing a 250,000-gallon elevated water storage tank with a new 1.5 million-gallon tank in Centerville and Osterville, replacing 6.5 miles of old water main to eliminate rusty water in Holbrook, and financing upgrades to the city of Worcester's sewer system as mitigation for a previous state requirement that the city handle neighboring communities' sewage en route to the regional wastewater treatment plant.
"The Commonwealth is pleased to partner with communities across Massachusetts that are working to protect water quality and public health, while investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy to make delivery these essential local services smarter and more affordable," said Secretary of Energy and Environment Ian Bowles.
In keeping with Governor Patrick's commitment to clean energy, the Administration is making loan funds available to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy components of eligible drinking water and wastewater projects. At the MWRA, for example, an SRF loan will help finance modifications to the Deer Island Treatment Plant's on-site steam-driven electrical generation system. The improvements, now in the design stage and scheduled for construction in FY 2009, are expected to increase the MWRA's renewable energy production by approximately 5.5 million kilowatts per year and save $500,000 that would otherwise be spent to purchase electricity generated off-site.
Energy use at wastewater and drinking water 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. Approximately 30 percent of municipal energy use derives from water treatment. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs estimates that reducing energy use in municipal water treatment by 20 percent across the board would cut emissions from power generation by approximately 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 760,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide, and 250,000 pounds of nitrous oxides.
"Through the State Revolving Fund, these water infrastructure projects will help solve bacteria and nutrient problems across the state and allow us to address the most common cause of failure to meet water quality and drinking water quality goals," said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Laurie Burt.
"Helping Massachusetts' cities and towns finance environmental infrastructure is a top priority," said Treasurer Tim Cahill, chairman of the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust. "Through the Water Pollution Abatement Trust, the School Building Authority, the Massachusetts Municipal Depository Trust, and our administration of local aid, I have made the State Treasury a true partner to local government."
In December, Secretary Bowles and Commissioner Burt announced an Energy Management Pilot for Wastewater and Drinking Water Plants, a program that will help 14 municipalities make their water treatment plants more energy efficient, saving money for the municipalities and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. MassDEP will take the lead among public and utility partners that will work in concert to audit energy use at municipal wastewater and drinking water facilities and assess the potential for clean, renewable energy at these facilities; and provide financial support for implementation of energy upgrades.
For this new round of SRF loans, MassDEP plans to work with recipients to determine ways to build energy savings into overall project designs. In addition, MassDEP will provide each recipient with fact sheets on assistance available through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and EEA's Division of Energy Resources.
To be eligible for Clean Water or Drinking Water SRF loans, municipalities, wastewater districts, and water suppliers filed applications with MassDEP last spring 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 99 projects on today's Intended Use List, must now file loan applications and receive MassDEP approval to obtain funding. They include 62 Clean Water SRF projects totaling $400 million, and 37 Drinking Water SRF projects totaling $140 million.
Annual federal grants, leveraged by matching state funds, provide seed money for the Massachusetts SRF programs.