EPA Launches New Program With $1 Billion in Loans Available for Water Infrastructure Projects

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2017

EPA Launches New Program With $1 Billion in Loans Available for Water Infrastructure Projects

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of approximately $1 billion in credit assistance for water infrastructure projects under the new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program.

EPA’s WIFIA program will provide long-term, low-cost credit assistance in the form of direct loans and loan guarantees to creditworthy water projects. WIFIA provides another option for financing large infrastructure projects – generally at least $20 million – in addition to the State Revolving Funds and bond market. WIFIA is available to state, local, and tribal governments; private entities; partnerships; and State Revolving Fund programs. EPA estimates that funds appropriated to the WIFIA program can be leveraged at a ratio greater than 50 to one, which means the $17 million program budget could allow EPA to make approximately $1 billion in loans and stimulate about $2 billion in total infrastructure investment.

“The launch of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program marks a huge step forward for modernizing our nation’s aging water infrastructure,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “WIFIA gives us a new opportunity to provide billions of dollars in low-interest loans to communities to build large infrastructure projects, significantly accelerating investments that benefit our nation’s public health and water security for generations to come.”

Some of the projects that WIFIA enables EPA to provide assistance for include:

  • drinking water treatment and distribution projects
  • wastewater conveyance and treatment projects
  • enhanced energy efficiency projects at drinking water and wastewater facilities
  • desalination, aquifer recharge, alternative water supply, and water recycling projects
  • drought prevention, reduction, or mitigation projects

EPA will evaluate projects using criteria such as the extent to which the project is nationally or regionally significant, helps maintain or protect public health or the environment, protects against extreme weather, and serves regions with significant water resource challenges. EPA will make selections on a competitive basis.

EPA estimates that the U.S. needs about $660 billion in investments for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure over the next 20 years.

For more information, visit www.epa.gov/wifia

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IDAHO News: Final Rule Package Submittal to EPA – WQS/Fish Consumption Rates in Human Health Criteria, Docket No. 58-0102-1201

Idaho has submitted their State adopted Human Health Water Quality Criteria (HHWQC) to EPA for approval.

Final Rule Package Submitted to EPA

This submittal also includes documents that exist as part of the rulemaking record and posted at www.deq.idaho.gov/58-0102-1201.

SRRTTF Sends Letter to Staff and Directors of the U.S. EPA and Other Parties Regarding TSCA

The Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force (SRRTTF) has sent a letter (via Ruckelshaus Center on December 9th, 2016)  to Staff and Directors at EPA as well as State legislators concerning the regulation of PCBs under the Toxic Substances Control Act and its link to Washington Water Quality Standards for PCBs recently submitted by EPA. The SRRTTF developed the letter(s), and agreed on the contents, by consensus.

Letter:
–  srrttf-letter-concerning-wa-wqs-and-tsca_12-9-16

Previous letter sent to EPA and their response:
–  SRRTTF Letter to EPA-Final-approved-10.23.13
–  EPA Response to SRRTTF Letter_pcbs_2.24.15

 

Federal Register publication of the Washington Water Quality Standards MORE INFORMATION

The final rule was published in the Federal Register today, which means it will take effect on 12/28/16. All the information has been posted on EPA’s website here: https://www.epa.gov/wqs-tech/water-quality-standards-regulations-washington#fed

The docket is also now available (which is also available on the main link above) here: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EPA-HQ-OW-2015-0174. The docket includes the response to comments and economic analysis – direct links to these documents below.

Response to comments: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OW-2015-0174-0427

Econ analysis: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OW-2015-0174-0300

EPA to Host Upcoming WIFIA Informational Webinars

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) is a new loan program, which is targeted at large projects $20 million for large communities and $5 million for small communities (population of 25,000 or less).

Over the next month, EPA will be hosting a series of informational sessions about WIFIA program.

Eligible projects include wastewater and drinking water facilities as well as energy efficiency projects at these facilities and other large projects. The WIFIA program is separate from State Revolving Fund programs, but will coordinate with them.

If you are interested in this new funding program, then you are encouraged to attend one or more of the Webinars, particularly the first one, which is scheduled for November 29th from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Eastern Time and will overview the WIFIA Program, loan terms and conditions, and credit policies.

The webinars are targeted at prospective WIFIA borrowers including municipal entities, corporations, partnerships, State Revolving Fund programs, non-governmental organizations, and organizations that support prospective borrowers. In each session, EPA will focus on a specific topic and provide participants the opportunity to ask questions.

Webinar 1 Tuesday, November 29 (1:00-3:00 pm ET)
WIFIA Program Overview; loan terms and conditions; and credit policies
Register

Webinar 2 Tuesday, December 6 (1:00-3:00 pm ET)
WIFIA Project Selection; letter of interest components; EPA’s selection process; and the selection criteria weighting
Register

Webinar 3 Monday, December 12 (1:00-3:00 pm ET)
WIFIA Project approval and closing; and term sheet development.
Register

Learn More.

News Releases from Region 10: EPA updates standards for toxic pollutants in Washington waters

NEWS Release from EPA :

Partnership with Washington will improve water quality and protect fish consumers, regulatory flexibility will help control costs

11/15/2016

Contact Information: 

Mark MacIntyre (macintyre.mark@epa.gov)

206-553-7302

(Seattle – November 15, 2016) Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced actions to update the limits for toxic pollutants in Washington’s surface waters, which will protect water quality and people who eat fish from those waters.

The Clean Water Act sets clear expectations for the nation’s water quality and calls for establishing health-based standards using the best available science to ensure that all people can safely fish and swim in U.S. waters.  Today’s actions set standards aimed at protecting those who eat salmon and other fish and shellfish from Washington waters.

Specifically, EPA approved 45 of the pollution standards the Washington Department of Ecology adopted earlier this year and finalized updates to 144 additional federal standards. For a complete list of the pollutants addressed in this action go to: https://www.epa.gov/wqs-tech/water-quality-standards-regulations-washington#fed

As part of today’s actions, EPA also approved Ecology’s revisions to its variance and compliance schedule provisions, which give the state and affected industries and municipalities needed flexibility and time to implement these new standards while making reasonable progress in improving water quality.

“Washington maintains one of the strongest water programs in the entire nation,” said EPA Regional Administrator Dennis McLerran. “Now, the state will have updated standards on the books and the needed flexibility to make progress meeting these more protective standards over time.”

Surveys of local residents in the Pacific Northwest, including tribes with treaty-protected rights, reflect that Washingtonians eat fish and shellfish at levels much higher than the rate that was previously used to set standards for toxics in Washington’s waters.  EPA and Ecology have been working to establish these new water quality standards based on a far more realistic estimate of the amount of fish Washingtonians eat.

“We applaud the Governor and Ecology’s decision to increase the fish consumption rate recognized in the standards and to retain the state’s protective one-in-a-million cancer risk level. The fish consumption rate and risk level in the standards match those established in Oregon and clearly recognize that greater protection of people who eat larger amounts of fish is appropriate in the Pacific Northwest where fishing is a part of our heritage,” McLerran said.

Most of Washington’s human health standards for toxics in surface water haven’t been updated since 1992. This new set of standards is based on the latest science about health protection and fish consumption rates.  Today’s actions ensure that water quality standards are now in place at levels that will adequately protect fish consumers in Washington, including tribes with treaty-protected rights, from exposure to toxic pollutants.

The region’s tribes helped both the EPA and the state better understand the particular health risks that tribal members have long faced due to their consumption of large amounts of fish. In establishing a fish consumption rate that better reflects the amount of fish people eat, the Ecology and EPA standards will help to lower health risks from eating fish for all Washingtonians, even those, such as tribal members, who regularly consume large amounts of fish and shellfish. EPA’s final rule incorporates Washington’s 175 grams per day fish consumption rate and a one-in-one million cancer risk level.

In practice, Ecology and EPA will continue to work together to determine the right level of regulatory flexibility and the feasibility of meeting the new standards when incorporating the new pollution limits into state permits and in other Clean Water Act programs. Flexibility in implementing these new standards will be important as pollutant detection and control technologies are developed.

EPA’s rule and Washington’s approved water quality standards will take effect 30 days after publication of the rule in the Federal Register. The rule was signed today (November 15) and is expected to be published in the Federal Register in one to two weeks.

# # #

For more information about EPA’s action on Washington’s water quality standards: https://www.epa.gov/wqs-tech/water-quality-standards-regulations-washington#fed

– Washington Rule_Water Quality Standards-part-131-2040-af56-final-rule
–  EPAs Partial-Approval Partial-disapproval_WA HH WQC Impl-tools_Bellon

EPA Grant Opportunities!!

Funding and Technical Assistance Opportunities
Local Foods, Local Places 2016-2017 Application, EPA
Applications due by November 6, 2016.
Local Foods, Local Places helps communities create more livable neighborhoods by promoting local foods. The program is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority.
The Local Foods, Local Places program will provide selected communities planning assistance that centers around a two-day community workshop. At the workshop, a team of experts will help community members develop an implementable action plan that promotes local food and neighborhood revitalization. Eligible applicants include local governments, Indian tribes, and nonprofit institutions and organizations proposing to work in a neighborhood, town, or city of any size anywhere in the United States. We expect that many of the communities we select will be economically challenged and in the early phases of their efforts to promote local foods and community revitalization.
 
Healthy Places for Healthy People, EPA
Applications due by November 6, 2016.
Healthy Places for Healthy People helps communities create walkable, healthy, economically vibrant places by engaging with their health care facility partners such as community health centers (including Federally Qualified Health Centers), nonprofit hospitals, and other health care facilities. The pilot phase of this program is sponsored by EPA and the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Healthy Places for Healthy People will provide selected communities with expert planning assistance that centers around a two-day community workshop. A team of experts will help community members develop an implementable action plan that will focus on health as an economic driver and catalyst for downtown and neighborhood revitalization. Eligible applicants include local government representatives, health care facilities, local health departments, neighborhood associations, main street districts, nonprofit organizations, tribes and others proposing to work in a neighborhood, town, or city located anywhere in the United States. Applications that include representatives from both the community (local government or non-governmental organization) and a health care facility will receive special consideration.
 
Cool & Connected Fall 2016 Application, EPA
Applications due by November 6, 2016.
Communities interested in using broadband service to revitalize main streets and promote economic development are encouraged to apply for Cool & Connected, a planning program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities. Through Cool & Connected, a team of experts will help community members develop strategies and an action plan for using broadband service to promote smart, sustainable community development. Eligibility:
·        Any community representative is welcome to submit an application to participate in Cool & Connected.
·        Special consideration will be given to small towns and rural communities that face economic challenges.
·        Special consideration will be given to communities in places where USDA has provided loans or grants in support of broadband services.
·        Your community should have existing or anticipated broadband service that can be leveraged for community development.
 
Preservation Technology and Training Grants, National Park Service
Applications due November 3, 2016.
Funding Opportunity Number: P16AS00579
2017 Preservation Technology and Training Grants are intended to create better tools, better materials, and better approaches to conserving buildings, landscapes, sites, and collections. The competitive grants program will provide funding to federal agencies, states, tribes, local governments, and non-profit organizations. Grants will support the following activities:
·        Innovative research that develops new technologies or adapts existing technologies to preserve cultural resources (typically $25,000 to $40,000)
·        Specialized workshops or symposia that identify and address national preservation needs (typically $15,000 to $25,000)
·        How-to videos, mobile applications, podcasts, best practices publications, or webinars that disseminate practical preservation methods or provide better tools for preservation practice (typically $5,000 to $15,000)
The maximum grant award is $40,000. The actual grant award amount is dependent on the scope of the proposed activity.
 
Environmental Education Grants, Captain Planet Foundation
Funding range: $500 to $2,500
Applications due by January 31, 2017
The mission of the Captain Planet Foundation is to give the next generation of environmental stewards an active understanding and love for the natural world in which they live. The Captain Planet Foundation primarily makes grants to U.S.-based schools and organizations with an annual operating budget of less than $3 million. Grants are made for activities that conform to the mission of the Captain Planet Foundation and MUST have all four of the following to be considered for funding:
·        Be project-based;
·        Projects must be performed by youth;
·        Projects must have real environmental outcomes;
·        Be based in the United States.
Grants from the Captain Planet Foundation are intended to:
·        Provide hands-on environmental stewardship opportunities for youth;
·        Serve as a catalyst to getting environment-based education in schools;
·        Inspire youth and communities to participate in community service through environmental stewardship activities.
Also of interest, EPA Long-Term Stormwater Planning Effort
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a new voluntary stormwater planning initiative to help communities plan long-term strategies for managing stormwater pollution. EPA has released a step-by-step guide to help communities develop long-term stormwater plans, a web-based toolkit for the planning process, and technical assistance for five communities to develop plans as national models. This effort promotes the use of flexible solutions that spur economic growth, stimulate infrastructure investments, and help compliance with environmental requirements.
 
 
 For more information contact:
Rachel Herbert
EPA/Office of Water/Stormwater Team
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, MC 4203M
Washington, DC 20460
herbert.rachel@epa.gov
202.564.2649

NPDES general permit for federal aquaculture facilities and aquaculture facilities in Indian Country within the boundaries of the state of Washington

 EPA has reissued the NPDES general permit for federal aquaculture facilities and aquaculture facilities in Indian Country within the boundaries of the state of Washington.  The final permit, response to comments, and other supporting materials are available on EPA’s website at: https://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/water.nsf/npdes+permits/general+npdes+permits#fedaqua