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EPA Awards $16.9 Million to Ocean State for Drinking Water and Sewage Plant Improvements

Release Date: 10/19/04
Contact Information:

Contact: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)

For Immediate Release: October 19, 2004; Release # 04-10-28

PAWTUCKET – Standing at the site of a new drinking water treatment plant being built in Pawtucket, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has awarded $16.9 million to the state of Rhode Island for its Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) Programs.

Rhode Island will use $8 million to support various drinking water programs within the state and make low-interest loans to public and private community water systems to improve their facilities. The new water plant in Pawtucket is among the projects that will benefit from the new funds. The remaining $8.9 million money will also be used to support wastewater treatment plant improvements around the state.

Both of the grants were awarded to the RI Clean Water Finance Agency, which will distribute the funds with assistance from the RI Department of Health and the RI Department of Environmental Management.

"This funding will help Pawtucket and many other Rhode Island communities carry out important projects to make their drinking water supplies safer and wastewater treatment discharges cleaner," said Ira Leighton, deputy regional administrator of EPA's New England Office.

"I'm very pleased that the EPA has awarded $16.9 million to Rhode Island to help us enhance our state’s water quality," added Governor Carcieri. "These funds will go a long way in ensuring that Narragansett Bay is clean and our drinking water is safe. The funds will also help our local cities and towns improve wastewater infrastructure and combat pollution.”

For New England, with its aging infrastructure, the program funding sewer system upgrades is especially significant. Across the six New England states, SRF and earlier construction grants have allowed municipalities with antiquated systems to make the kind of improvements that pave the way for economic development and promote smart growth policies. By promoting growth in urban centers and pre-existing buildings, the system upgrades have played an important role in protecting the region’s natural resources while also providing cleaner water.

Congress in 1987 authorized creation of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) Program, which was established in 1989 to provide low-interest loans for sewage plant upgrades. Since then, EPA has provided more than $1.5 billion to New England states to provide loans to communities, including $150 million to Rhode Island alone. Since 1990, Rhode Island has leveraged the federal grants and provided 25 cities and towns, as well as the Narragansett Bay Commission which operates two regional wastewater plants, with $434 million in low-interest loans for facility upgrades.

During fiscal year 2005, Rhode Island plans to make an additional 29 low-interest loans to six communities and the Narragansett Bay Commission, amounting to $71.8 million for wastewater projects and for a landfill closure project.

Another $500 million has been provided to the New England states for loans to public and private water supply systems under the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) Program, which was established under a 1996 amendment to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Those funds have resulted in more than $73 million in low-interest loans being awarded in Rhode Island for public and private community water systems.

“From replacing water mains in North Tiverton, to security enhancements in the Providence Water System, to the new water plant for Pawtucket, these funds will improve drinking water supplies in all corners of the state,” Leighton said.

Related Information:
Drinking Water
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund
Water Conservation