Washington Lists Project Candidates for Recovery Funds

The Washington State Department of Health released on March 23 a draft list of water system projects that it recommends for federal stimulus funds.

The department is overseeing more than $38 million in federal economic stimulus money to be used for water system improvements such as covering or repairing reservoirs to keep water clean and building treatment facilities to improve water quality.

“It is vital that our state makes smart, quick decisions that put the federal stimulus money -- and people in need of jobs -- to work right away,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said. “Safe drinking water is fundamental to our health. These projects will assure water quality and build our economy by putting people to work in some of our hardest-hit areas.”

The department has published a list recommending funding for 27 projects in 16 counties. The proposed projects must still receive final approval from the state Public Works Board. Criteria for selection include an ability to start the project within 12 months, economic need, and public health benefit.

The state received 347 applications for projects totaling nearly $416 million, which is 10 times as much as the total available funding.

“While the $38 million doesn't cover the full need, it lets us give a boost to much-needed projects that have been held up due to lack of funding,” said Gregg Grunenfelder, assistant secretary for DOH. “Nearly all of the applications we received meet the criteria set by the federal government for this funding. That shows just how much this work is needed.”

DOH will take public comment on the draft proposal list. Projects that can begin by June 16 receive first consideration. At least half of the funding won't be repaid -- these funds are for communities that cannot afford a loan.

DOH is accepting written comments until 5 p.m., April 6. The Public Works Board will meet April 7 to consider the list of recommended projects and provide final approval. To submit comments, send letters or e-mail to:

Kitty Weisman, Infrastructure Finance Lead
Washington State Department of Health
Office of Drinking Water
P.O. Box 47822
Olympia, WA 98504-7822
E-mail: kitty.weisman@doh.wa.gov

To see the draft list of ranked-order projects, visit: www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/dw/our_main_pages/dwsrf.htm.

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