Environmental Protection

DOI to Spend $134 M on Water Recycling Projects

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on July 1 said that $134.3 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds are being released to local water agencies for 27 innovative water reuse and desalination projects.

The stimulus funding is being directed to “shovel ready” projects authorized under the Title XVI Program, which is administered by the Bureau of Reclamation in 17 western states.

“We thank the Department of the Interior for making these funds available to drought-starved communities in a timely fashion,” said WateReuse Association President Richard Atwater, who is also general manager and chief executive officer of the Inland Empire Utilities Agency in Chino, Calif. “Water recycling and reuse project construction assistance is one of the best ways to address the current economic downturn. The assistance will help local communities generate jobs immediately, and those jobs will create projects that sustain long-term economic activity.”

The stimulus funds will benefit projects in communities that have secured matching funding and are ready to proceed immediately with construction. Local governments will leverage the federal funding by a factor of about 5:1 through matching funding, resulting in a total investment of more than $676 million in new water reuse and desalination projects.

Of the nearly $135 million in funding announced by the Department of the Interior today, the Bureau of Reclamation will use about $4.2 million—or 3 percent—to ensure the projects’ compliance with federal regulations and statutes as well as adherence to ARRA goals.

The state of California, which has been particularly hard hit with both drought and recession, is getting the biggest infusion of Title XVI stimulus funding with 26 of the 27 funded projects located within the state. One project in New Mexico will also receive ARRA funds. All of the projects are designed to provide a drought-proof water supply to communities that have too little of this precious resource.

Recipients of the Title XVI funding announced today must meet specific requirements such as demonstrating complete compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental laws; have an approved determination of financial capability; a feasibility study that meets the established requirements of Title XVI; an approved determination of financial capability; and an executed cooperative agreement for financial assistance.

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