Local projects among 70 statewide, proposed $202 million in loans/grants to protect Washington waters

The Washington Department of Ecology proposes to spend $202 million in dedicated grants and loans to help pay for 70 local projects across the state to protect the health of Washington waters. Included is a low interest loan for a new waste water collection system in the Oyehut/Illahee area that will eliminate 130 existing on-site sewage systems, as well as a loan to replace the outfall diffuser at the City of Aberdeen’s waste water treatment plant. There is also a proposed loan to complete the Shelton Basin 3 Sewer Rehabilitation Construction Project.The funding is contingent on a final state supplemental budget and final federal appropriations. It becomes available at the start of the state’s next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014.

State financial managers calculate that 11 jobs in Washington are created for every $1 million spent for construction and design funding. That would make this proposed round of funding support more than 2,200 jobs. Over half of these are likely to be local construction jobs.
The funding will be directed to water protection on agricultural lands; upgrades and expansions of sewer plants and collection systems; septic system improvements; water protection and cleanup projects; efforts to manage stormwater; streamside restoration projects; and more.
Here are highlights of the proposed funding:
Port Angeles, Spokane, and King County are proposed to receive $62 million in Revolving Fund loans to correct combined sewer overflows (CSOs). CSOs are discharges of untreated sewage that overflow directly to nearby streams, lakes, and harbors when wastewater collection systems are overloaded by large stormwater flows.
Ecology proposes $1.1 million in grants for projects on both sides of the Cascades to protect clean water on agricultural lands. Of this funding:
  • The Palouse Rock Lake Conservation District proposes to enhance streamside areas of the Palouse River and create cost-share programs for no-till, direct seed programs.
  • Okanogan Conservation District wants to implement practices to help landowners protect waters from livestock access.
  • Benton Conservation District proposes to work with the public to understand and prevent nitrate pollution of drinking water.
  • Lewis County Conservation District plans to work on a project to prevent polluted runoff from irrigation practices.
  • In King County, American Farmland Trust plans to field-test strategies to improve water quality in farm areas along Newaukum Creek. 
In addition, $190 million is proposed to boost 39 wastewater treatment facility projects. Eight of these are proposed for communities that qualify for financial hardship status. They will receive grants, forgivable principal loans (loans that do not need to be paid back), and loans with interest rates as low as zero percent. The communities are:
  • Chehalis
  • Deer Park
  • Ilwaco
  • Morton
  • Sacheen Lake area of Pend Oreille County
  • Sun Acres in Spokane County
  • Shelton
  • Illayee/Oyehut area in Grays Harbor County
Project descriptions and proposed funding amounts can be found online
Ecology invites comments about this proposed funding. Email comments to Daniel Thompson at [email protected] or mail them to Department of Ecology, Water Quality Program, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, Attn: Daniel Thompson. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. March 24, 2014.
Ecology will hold a public meeting to discuss the proposed list at 1 p.m., Friday, March 7, at the Pierce County Library, PAC – Processing and Administrative Center, 3005 112th Street in Tacoma.
The funding is contingent on a final state supplemental budget and final federal appropriations. It becomes available at the start of the state’s next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014.
Funding for Ecology’s integrated loan and grant program comes from a combination of dedicated state and federal monies.
Of the $202 million total, $180 million comes from the Washington State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund. Another $20.3 million comes from the state Centennial Clean Water Program. And $1.6 million comes from the Clean Water Section 319 Nonpoint Source Fund. Read more about these funds and where the money comes from online.