With the final 2013-15 state biennial budget in hand, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has selected 72 clean water projects to receive a share of $152 million in loans and grants during the state’s next fiscal year, which began on July 1.
State financial managers calculate that the funding will create more than 700 local construction and design jobs. In turn, those jobs will contribute to economic activity in Washington that supports more than 1,600 jobs across the state.
“Our main goal with this funding is to protect and restore Washington’s waters – but job creation is a very welcome bonus,” said Kelly Susewind, who manages Ecology’s Water Quality Program.
Projects qualifying for Ecology’s clean water funding include upgrades and expansions of sewer plants and collection systems; septic system improvements; water re-use facilities; water cleanup projects; stormwater and groundwater projects; stream-side protection and restoration projects; and public clean water education projects.
The top five, highest-priority projects to receive funding are:
LaCrosse in Whitman County receives a nearly $900,000 loan to repair its sewer system. Of this, $23,000 is forgivable principal loan, which is money that does not have to be paid back.
Bellingham in Whatcom County gets more than $2 million in grant, loan and forgivable loan funds to re-route and restore a degraded stream channel of Squalicum Creek. The work will improve the stream’s problems with temperature and fish habitat. Some of the funding will help pay for education and monitoring programs.
Toledo in Lewis County gets $8.6 million in grant and low-interest loan funding to upgrade the city’s wastewater treatment system.
Spokane gets a $20.7 million low-interest loan to build two combined sewer overflow projects. The projects will reduce and control stormwater discharges from the city’s combined sewer/stormwater system.
Pend Oreille County receives more than $600,000 in grant funds and a low-interest loan to replace its 47-year-old wastewater treatment system. If the system were to fail, it would pollute the Pend Oreille River and close a school that serves three communities.
In addition, a Legislative proviso sends $10 million to the city of Spokane and Spokane County to reduce the number of residential septic systems that threaten underground water in the Spokane-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer Sensitive Area.
Funding for Ecology’s integrated loan and grant program comes from a combination of dedicated state and federal monies. Of the current $152 million shared with local communities, $25 million comes from the Centennial Clean Water Program, which is funded through state bonds. The federally funded Clean Water Section 319 Nonpoint Source Fund provides $1.6 million. The Washington State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund, a combination federal grant, state match and interest and loan repayments, provides $125 million.
Project descriptions and funding offered can be found online in the “State Fiscal Year 2014 Final Water Quality Funding Offer List and Intended Use Plan.” Appendix 1 shows the combined list of projects and funding offered. Appendix 2 shows maps that pinpoint funded projects in Western and Eastern Washington.
The next application cycle for Ecology’s water quality grants and loans begins Oct. 1 and ends Dec. 4. Ecology will hold funding application workshops throughout the state in early October. The schedule is one month later than normal, as Ecology expects to launch a new web-based system to manage grants and loans called EAGL, or Ecology Administration of Grants and Loans.
For more details about water quality financial assistance, visit Ecology’s website.