Mo. Gov. Signs Legislation for Safer, Cleaner Water

Gov. Matt Blunt recently signed legislation to modify requirements relating to the issuance of grants and loans by the Department of Natural Resources for stormwater control.

"I believe that we have an obligation to protect our environment and leave it better than how we found it. To reach this goal we need to help our communities meet required environmental standards," Blunt said. "These grants and loans will help counties make required improvements to their stormwater plans, helping ensure a safer and cleaner water supply for Missourians."

Current law requires the Department of Natural Resources to provide both grants and loans using the funds resulting from the issuance of stormwater control bonds. Senate Bill 1040, sponsored by Sen. Dan Clemens, modifies this requirement so that both are no longer simultaneously required. The act removes the requirement that 50 percent of the proceeds from the bonds be allocated to grants and 50 percent to loans. The legislation becomes effective only with voter approval of SJR 45. The initiative will go to the voters in November.

"This is a great way for our first class cities and counties to improve their infrastructure at no increased cost for our citizens," Clemens said.

Once the initial offer of grants or loans has been made to all eligible recipients, the act allows any remaining funds to be proportionally distributed to grant or loan recipients who are eligible for, and need, additional funding. The act requires repayments of stormwater loans and applicable interest to be deposited in the Stormwater Loan Revolving Fund, which is created by the act and authorizes the monies in the fund to be used to finance and construct stormwater control plans, studies, and projects.

Since taking office Blunt has strived to improve Missouri's water infrastructure. He created the Clean Water Initiative administered by the Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Water Protection Program. The department has already distributed $8 million to cities and water districts to help provide safe and clean water for communities across Missouri, allocating the $50 million in funds as follows:

• $18 million for 40 percent State Construction grants for wastewater related projects,

• $13.2 million for rural sewer grants targeted for rural and special-needs communities,

• $14.8 million for rural drinking water projects,

• $4 million in direct loans for water or wastewater projects, including planning loans for wastewater facilities

The governor's Clean Water Initiative is funded through $50 million in bonds to assist Missouri communities facing problems related to drinking water and wastewater treatment.

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