$540 Million in Loans for Mass. Water Projects Announced

Jan. 9, 2008
99 projects eligible for low-cost financing

Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick announced a program Jan. 8 making 99 clean-water projects across the commonwealth eligible for low-cost financing, according to a report by the Providence Business News.

$540 million worth of 2% loans will be available to cities and towns, regional water supply and wastewater treatment districts and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). The money, which comes from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, will finance projects to upgrade or replace aging water supply or wastewater infrastructure, improve water quality and cut municipal energy use and spending, the newspaper reported.

“The financing levels we’re announcing today are the highest in the history of these programs, and represent a vitally important form of local aid for our cities and towns,” Patrick said in a statement.

“The Commonwealth is pleased to partner with communities across Massachusetts that are working to protect water quality and public health, while investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy to make delivery of these essential local services smarter and more affordable,” said Secretary of Energy and Environment Ian Bowles.

Officials noted a new focus on energy in the program, including a state loan to the MWRA to help fund modifications to the steam-driven electrical generation system at the Deer Island Treatment Plant, according to the newspaper. Those modifications are anticipated to save the agency $500,000 per year on electricity generated elsewhere by increasing renewable energy production at the site by about 5.5 million kilowatts per year.

Water treatment facilities make up about 30% of municipal energy use across the commonwealth, with communities spending about $150 million per year on the electricity needed to treat 662 billion gal of waste and drinking water, the administration said. According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), achieving 20% across-the-board savings in energy use on municipal water treatment in the state would shrink annual power generation emissions by 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 380 tons of sulfur dioxide and 125 tons of nitrous oxides, the newspaper reported.

“Helping Massachusetts’ cities and towns finance environmental infrastructure is a top priority,” said state Treasurer Tim Cahill.

“These water infrastructure projects will help solve bacteria and nutrient problems across the state and allow us to address the most common cause of failure to meet water quality and drinking water quality goals,” DEP Commissioner Laurie Burt said.

The 99 projects on the Intended Use List include 62 Clean Water State Revolving Fund projects totaling $400 million, and 37 Drinking Water State Revolving Fund projects totaling $140 million, according to the newspaper. The funds are conditional on each project submitting a loan application and receiving DEP approval.

Since its beginning in 1991, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund has awarded more than $3.38 billion in loans, while the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund has awarded nearly $791 million in loans since its inception in 1999. Seed money for the funds comes from annual federal grants matched by state funds, the newspaper reported.

Source: Providence Business News