Jul 15, 2009

EPA Awards Puerto Rico Nearly $72 Million in Recovery Act Funds for Water

Money will boost economy, create jobs and protect human health and the environment

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced that the agency has awarded nearly $72 million to Puerto Rico through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This infusion of money, a combined total of $71,646,800, will help the commonwealth and local governments finance overdue improvements to wastewater and drinking water systems and conduct water quality planning essential to protecting human health and the environment across the commonwealth. Puerto Rico Governor Luis G. Fortuño joined Jackson and announced the awards at a press conference in San Juan.

“EPA is working to revitalize communities that have been hit hardest by this economic downturn, and creating solutions where they’re needed most. Governor Fortuño has been a powerful advocate for bringing recovery to Puerto Rico, and is working closely with EPA to get the local economy moving forward,” said Jackson. “These are investments in our core mission of protecting people’s health and the environment. The jobs they create will strengthen the local economy and build a new foundation for economic prosperity.”

“We are enthused by the arrival of much-needed Recovery Act funds and stand ready to put them to work as soon as possible. These funds will be used for the construction and modernization of five wastewater treatment plants in the center of the Island that are ready to go. We appreciate Administrator Jackson’s commitment to improving Puerto Rico’s quality of drinking water. We look forward to continue working with the EPA to ensure that all Puerto Ricans are guaranteed clean water and a better environment,” said Fortuño.

EPA awarded $51,630,500 to the Puerto Rico Department of Environmental Quality, which will provide money to municipal governments and wastewater utilities for projects to protect lakes, ponds and streams in communities across the commonwealth. The grant will go to the commonwealth’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, which provides low-interest loans for water quality protection projects for wastewater treatment, non-point source pollution control and watershed and estuary management. Across the country, an unprecedented $4 billion will be awarded to fund wastewater infrastructure projects.

EPA awarded $19.5 million to the Puerto Rico Department of Health to finance improvements to water projects essential to protecting public health and the environment across the commonwealth. The funds will go to the commonwealth’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program, which provides low-interest loans for drinking water systems to finance infrastructure improvements. An unprecedented $2 billion will be awarded to fund drinking water infrastructure projects across the country in the form of low-interest loans, principal forgiveness and grants.

EPA awarded $526,300 for the Commonwealth’s Water Quality Management Planning (WQMP) grant program. Planning is an important step in EPA’s goal to improve water quality in America’s lakes, rivers and streams. WQMP grants support a broad range of activities, such as setting standards, monitoring the quality of the water, developing plans to restore polluted waters, and identifying ways to protect healthy waters from becoming polluted. States and commonwealths are also encouraged to use these funds for more innovative planning activities like developing plans to adapt to climate change, analyzing trends in water availability and use and creating low-impact development programs. Grants are awarded to state agencies and some of the funds can be awarded to regional and interstate planning organizations.