Bennington, Vt. (October 28, 2020) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding $2.7 billion nationwide in federal financial assistance in support of water infrastructure improvements through the State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs, including $18,791,000 for Vermont. This funding assists states, tribes and territories with infrastructure projects that help protect surface water and provide safe drinking water to communities across the United States.
“Especially during Children’s Health Month, EPA is proud to further support our state and local partners’ critical work to improve water infrastructure and test for lead in drinking water, which will result in tangible and lasting benefits for communities and citizens,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. “These projects will significantly advance children’s health protections and improve water quality across Vermont.”
“The State Revolving Funds help Vermont communities tackle the challenges associated with aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. This funding enables towns to pursue critical upgrades,” said Vermont Department of Environmental Commissioner Peter Walke. “Earlier this year, SRF money helped the Town of Bennington initiate an $11 million project to replace all lead service lines in the area. From Bennington to Burlington, SRFs help communities finance short and long-term projects that increase water quality and address public health concerns.”
Bennington Town Manager Stuart Hurd said: “Bennington has long been sensitive to the effects of leached lead and copper in the public water system due to an acidic water source. We were one of the first in the country to treat our water to mitigate such leaching action. This grant will allow us to finally address head on the remaining lead service lines in our system. Our goal is to eliminate to the extent possible lead in our drinking water, perhaps the first in the nation to do so.”
The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC) has received and will administer the SRF appropriations. VTDEC helps Vermont’s wastewater and water systems maintain or come into compliance with federal and state clean water and drinking water requirements.
In 2020, EPA awarded $1.6 billion nationwide in new federal grant funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), including $7,780,000 to assist Vermont. This funding is available for a wide range of water infrastructure projects, including modernizing aging wastewater infrastructure, implementing water reuse and recycling and addressing stormwater.
EPA also awarded $1.07 billion across the country in new federal grant funding for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), including $11,011,000 to assist Vermont. This funding can be used for loans that help drinking water systems install treatment for contaminants and improve distribution systems by upgrading water mains, pipes, and tanks, and strengthen water resiliency to natural disasters such as floods.
EPA has also awarded VTDEC $295,000 over three fiscal years—2018 through 2020—to improve lead in drinking water testing in schools and childcare facilities under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN). This funding will support a state lead in water testing management strategy that will prioritize sampling activities in schools and childcare facilities in underserved communities. Based on more robust lead in drinking water testing, childhood exposure to lead will be reduced by routine water testing, notification, and practices to get lead out of drinking water.
Under the CWSRF and DWSRF programs, EPA provides funding to all 50 states and Puerto Rico to capitalize SRF loan programs. The states and Puerto Rico contribute an additional 20 percent to match the federal funding.
The SRF programs function like infrastructure banks by providing low-interest loans to eligible recipients for drinking water and clean water infrastructure projects. As the loan principal and interest are repaid over time, it allows the state’s DWSRF and CWSRF to be recycled or “revolve.” As money is returned to the state’s revolving loan fund, the state makes new loans to other eligible recipients. These funds can also be combined with EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans to create a powerful, innovative financing solution for major infrastructure projects.
The 2016 WIIN Act addresses, supports, and improves America’s drinking water infrastructure. Included in the WIIN Act are three drinking water grants that promote public health and the protection of the environment.
For more information on the WIIN grant program, visit https://www.epa.gov/dwcapacity/water-infrastructure-improvements-nation-act-wiin-act-grant-programs.