EPA Funds Critical Water Projects in Alaska

More than $18 million to be used across drinking water, wastewater infrastructure

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is awarding more than $16 million to Alaska’s drinking water and clean water revolving loan program funds to help finance improvements to water projects that are essential to protecting public health and the environment. EPA has allotted an additional $2.6 million in funds to further support the state’s safe drinking water program.

The more than $18 million in funding awarded to the state will be used across Alaska for water quality projects that will improve municipal drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, help protect public drinking water systems, make projects more sustainable by increasing water and energy efficiency, and reduce water pollution.

“This funding will help protect drinking water and improve water quality across Alaska,” said Scott Pruitt, EPA administrator. “Clean drinking water and proper wastewater treatment are fundamental to protecting people's health, but aging water infrastructure needs to be upgraded and repaired. EPA's funding helps Alaska to continue its program to invest in drinking water and wastewater systems and protect people's health.”

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program, administrated by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, was awarded $8 million. The program provides low-interest loans to finance improvements to drinking water systems, with a particular focus on providing funds to small and disadvantaged communities.

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, also administrated by the Alaska DEC, was awarded $8 million. The program provides low-interest loans for water quality protection projects to make improvements to wastewater treatment systems, control pollution from rainwater runoff, and protect sensitive water bodies.

The Public Water System Supervision program, administered by the Alaska DEC, was allotted $2.6 million. The program helps DEC staff assist the owners and operators of public water systems provide safe and reliable drinking water to their customers through sanitary surveys, laboratory certifications, and technical assistance.

Alaska’s larger communities rely on these sources of funding to address critical water needs,” said Michelle Hale, Director of the Alaska DEC, Division of Water.  “This is much-needed funding that supports state public health and water quality projects throughout the state.” 

Since the DWSRF program’s inception in 1996, Alaska has received $208 million in annual capitalization grants which, along with the state’s required 20 percent match and prior loan repayments, has provided more than $336 million in DWSRF loans for critical drinking water projects throughout the state. And since 1988, Alaska has received $241 million in annual CWSRF capitalization grants. Combined with state match and repayments, the Alaska DEC has provided more than $505 million in low-interest, CWSRF loans for water quality and wastewater projects. 

DWSRF projects in Alaska that have received funding from previous capitalization grants include a new drinking water reservoir near South Anchorage Middle School, new drinking water treatment to help Cordova and Sitka comply with the Surface Water Treatment Rule, and installation of two new drinking water wells for the city of Juneau.

The CWSRF has recently helped fund projects such as upgrades to the Eagle River Wastewater Treatment Facility, improvements to Kodiak and Sitka wastewater treatment plants, and expansions of sewer systems in Kenai, Homer, and other areas.

A loan from either of Alaska DEC’s State Revolving Loan Funds comes with interest rates significantly below the market rate.  The length of the loan is generally 20 years, but can extend up to 30 years, and the loan can also contain a significant amount of principal forgiveness that does not have to be repaid.

In addition to providing grant funds through the SRFs and other programs, EPA technical experts and managers provide their expertise to local, state, and tribal grant recipients on strategy development, research, technical needs, and compliance and enforcement.

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