Environmental Protection

From Sea to Shining Sea: The Work Done by ARRA Funding

Federal, state, and local officials made a point this week to visit sites where American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds are being used to clean up waste and otherwise improve the environment, near the anniversary of the law's enactment (Feb. 17, 2009).

In New York, funding has spurred cleanup of toxic waste sites and leaking petroleum storage tanks, enhanced water quality, and reduced air pollution from diesel engines.

EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis visited the cleanup of the Courtney George site, an abandoned gas station and repair shop in Albany, N.Y. The total cost of the cleanup is estimated at $520,000 and should be completed by September 2011.

In Missouri, ground will be broken on Feb. 17, for a $16 million project that will improve the Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant in Springfield. The project is creating 30 new jobs and is expected to be completed by spring of 2012. An ozone disinfection system will reduce energy consumption, resulting in future energy savings of approximately $4 million over 20 years. The ozone system also will reduce maintenance requirements, saving about $2 million over 20 years.

As part of ARRA, Missouri received $146 million for drinking water and wastewater projects.

In California, officials will tour a project under construction that will provide critical protection to San Francisco Bay, according to an EPA press release. Presidential appointee Jared Blumenfeld, regional director of EPA, will join the mayor of El Cerrito and key state and local partners to announce details of how funds are being leveraged in El Cerrito and communities throughout the Bay Area to infuse a “green” foundation into much needed infrastructure improvements.

This foundation is a partnership between the California State Water Control Resources Board, San Francisco Estuary Partnership, City of El Cerrito, San Francisco Estuary Institute and EPA. The state of California expeditiously worked to distribute nearly half a billion dollars of money to help local governments finance many of the overdue improvements to water projects that are essential to protecting public health and the environment across the state.

ARRA provided more than $565 million for environmental cleanups and upgrades across New York state. Recovery Act funding is paying for nearly $437 million in wastewater improvements, about $87 million for drinking water projects, well over $15 million in clean diesel projects, almost $15 million for Superfund cleanups, more than $9 million to address leaking underground storage tanks, and $2.5 million for brownfields assessments and cleanups.

EPA recently posted its ARRA quarterly performance report, which notes that ARRA funding supporting the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund has a deadline of Feb. 17 for all funds to be under contract. According to the report, EPA and state programs have been working together to ensure that all states meet this goal. Every program has put forth a strong plan to ensure the use all funds. The report highlighted work done by Minnesota to have 100 percent of its CWSRF funds under contract for construction by the deadline. See the table for a summary of all the program numbers.

FY 2010 Quarter 1 Highlights -- As of Dec. 31, 2009

Clean Water State Revolving Fund

61 percent of the funds were fully under contract ($2.3 billion)
18 percent of the funds were dedicated to “green” projects ($714.7 million)

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund

56 percent of the funds were fully under contract ($997.8 million)
21 percent of the funds were dedicated to “green” projects ($391 million)

Diesel Emissions Reductions

2,700 diesel engines have been retrofitted, replaced, or retired
Work on the 2,700 engines will prevent the release of approximately 73,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year

Brownfields

Almost all the funding (98 percent) has been obligated from EPA for cooperative agreements
27 assessments have been initiated with 6 assessments completed

Leaking Underground Storage Tanks

323 site assessments have begun and 112 completed
166 tank cleanup projects have begun and 46 completed

Superfund

100 percent of Recovery Act cleanup funds have been obligated
33 sites have initiated on-site construction with new and ongoing projects

About the Author

L.K. Williams is the Environmental Group Editor of 1105 Media.

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