Agency to Send $297 M to Northwest; Funds Expected in April

The states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and tribal governments will receive more than $297 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for clean water projects to create jobs and protect communities and the environment, according to a March 12 press release.

The federal funding is the first installment of EPA funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The states and federal agencies are working to identify the best projects. Opportunities for public comments on each state’s proposed list of projects will occur in the next several weeks. As soon as those are final, EPA will provide the funding. EPA officials expect the funding to flow to the states beginning in April.

The amounts directed to the states and tribal governments will be delivered through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, and the Tribal Clean Water & Drinking Water Set-Aside programs. Alaska will receive $43 million, Idaho will receive $39 million, Oregon will receive $73 million, and Washington will receive $111 million.

In addition, Alaska tribal water infrastructure will receive $27 million. EPA will provide $4.4 million for tribal water infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest.

These funds will supplement existing annual EPA grants to the states. The states use these funds to issue loans for enhancing, upgrading and rebuilding public drinking water systems and public wastewater systems, as well as funding non-point source projects. The new law provides states with additional flexibility in loan terms by requiring that at least 50 percent of the funding be provided in subsidies such as principal forgiveness or negative interest rates.

"States and tribes will use up to 20 percent of the funds for water and energy efficiency and other innovative projects. This initiative both makes an important down payment to fix our aging infrastructure and offers workers well-paid, ‘green’ jobs,” said Michelle Pirzadeh, EPA’s acting regional administrator in Seattle.

Funding for Tribal drinking water and wastewater infrastructure occurs in a partnership between EPA, Tribes and the Indian Health Service (IHS). EPA’s funding will transfer to IHS, who manages the water-related infrastructure construction for Tribes. IHS expects to be able to begin using the funding in April.

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