Patrick-Murray Administration Receives $185M in Federal Recovery Act Funds for Water Treatment Projects
"Green Infrastructure" requirement, modeled on Massachusetts program, promises savings, clean energy for municipalities
Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray and state environmental officials today joined U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson to announce more than $185 million in federal stimulus funding for Massachusetts, which will be used to finance more than 127 statewide drinking water and waste water infrastructure projects that will protect the environment and the public health.
As part of Governor Patrick's Massachusetts Recovery Plan to secure the state's economic future, the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds will be distributed to shovel-ready projects listed as part of the 2009 State Revolving Fund (SRF) program. SRF funding this year totals more than $986 million, which will protect and create engineering and construction jobs in the Commonwealth.
"This is great news for cities and towns across the Commonwealth," said Lieutenant Governor Murray. "Our water infrastructure needs are significant and this funding will go a long way in helping municipalities make important upgrades to their systems. My sincere thanks to our Congressional delegation for including this funding in the stimulus bill and for their great work on behalf of the Commonwealth."
"These projects are vital to the health and vitality of communities here in Massachusetts and across the country," said Governor Deval Patrick. "Federal funds will help write down the total cost of the capital projects for cities and towns, create jobs and, with the energy investments they also make possible, reduce the cost of operating the new treatment plants. Massachusetts spearheaded this approach, and the Recovery Act has taken this program nationwide."
"EPA is part of the solution in these challenging times. Massachusetts has been a leader in creating green jobs that grow the economy and benefit the environment, and today's grants build on that work," said EPA Administrator Jackson. "Keeping the water supply clean and safe for millions of people will bring new jobs and opportunities to Massachusetts communities. Protecting our health and the environment is a great way to put people to work and build a new foundation for prosperity."
Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles and Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Commissioner Laurie Burt also participated with other federal, state and local officials in today's event at the Deer Island waste water treatment plant, which highlighted the new federal requirement that at least 20 percent of federal SRF funds be devoted to "green infrastructure" investments that make water treatment facilities more cost effective and environmentally beneficial.
"Massachusetts blazed the trail in exploring the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy to make water treatment plants, which are huge energy users, both lower cost and lower impact on our environment," said Secretary Bowles. "President Obama and Administrator Jackson have taken this idea to the entire country. The result will be cleaner water, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and lower costs for municipalities and water districts."
"The federal stimulus funding will help to save millions of dollars for communities and water suppliers by subsidizing their SRF loans, bringing many more great environmental protection projects and jobs to more local communities than in past years," said Commissioner Burt. "Communities that participate in the green infrastructure upgrade effort will save millions more through energy efficiency and installation of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power."
Combining state and federal funds, the Commonwealth awards low-interest loans through the SRF, which is administered by the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust, a joint effort of MassDEP, the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, and the State Treasurer's Office.
"The local water infrastructure and green projects funded by this program will create jobs and will improve the environment," said State Treasurer Tim Cahill. "Cities and towns should move quickly to take advantage of the subsidies provided by ARRA funds."
The SRF is comprised of two programs: the Clean Water Fund, which has awarded nearly $3.9 billion in loans since 1991; and the Drinking Water Fund, which has awarded more than $975 million to projects since 1999. The Clean Water SRF funds planning and construction projects for waste water, such as treatment plants and upgrades to existing sewer systems. This year, the Clean Water SRF list includes 80 projects, totaling more than $744 million. The Drinking Water SRF funds engineering, design and construction of drinking water projects that protect public health and strengthen compliance with state and federal drinking water requirements. This year, the Drinking Water SRF list includes 52 projects, totaling nearly $242 million.
The ARRA requires that a portion of these new funds be utilized for grants. Legislation is now pending at the state level to authorize SRF grants, which are expected to reduce the cost of these infrastructure projects by 8 to 14 percent. The bill has been passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate and is expected to go to the Governor for his signature soon.
The ARRA also requires that 20 percent of the federal stimulus funds for SRF be used for "green infrastructure" improvements at treatment facilities. One of those projects was highlighted at the Deer Island announcement today. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) will use $1.6 million of the $25 million in stimulus money allocated to the agency to install roof-top solar panels at the Deer Island facility, cutting down on the plant's electricity costs and reducing its carbon footprint. MWRA has been a leader in the use of renewable energy at the Deer Island plant, with more than 20 percent of its energy needs met by on-site renewable generation utilizing methane produced by waste treatment, as well as hydroelectric generation at the outfall site and a 100 kilowatt solar array installed last year. Two wind turbines are currently being installed.
"This is another project to help defray our energy costs, which is great for the MWRA's ratepayers," said MWRA Executive Director Frederick Laskey.
The Patrick-Murray Administration will also utilize these stimulus funds to implement other green infrastructure projects at treatment plants statewide. Fourteen such projects have been identified by the state's Energy Management Pilot Project, and others could be identified through a public solicitation now under way. The innovative pilot project, which served as a model for the ARRA green infrastructure requirement, was designed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and the energy use at municipal waste water and drinking water treatment facilities.
MassDEP partnered with the state Department of Energy Resources, EPA New England, and other state agencies, academic institutions, a non-profit and the state's electric and gas utilities to conduct comprehensive energy audits at seven drinking water and seven waste water plants. The sites were also assessed for renewable energy generation potential.
Based on the audits, MassDEP estimates that $3.7 million in annual energy savings, 7 megawatts of clean energy, and 17,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions reductions will result annually if the pilot projects are implemented.
To be eligible for Clean Water or Drinking Water SRF funding, municipalities, waste water districts and water suppliers filed applications with MassDEP last year demonstrating that the proposed projects offer significant public health or drinking water quality benefits. The 127 listed projects must now obtain local funding authorization by August 1, and submit final plans and specifications by August 1 to qualify for federal ARRA "shovel-ready" funding.