Delegation Announces $18.2 Million for Water Infrastructure Improvements in Rhode Island
After reversing proposed cuts to clean water infrastructure programs, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced $18.2 million in federal funding for water infrastructure projects in Rhode Island. Administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the funding will go to two federal-state loan programs that supply local water systems with low-interest financing for projects that protect public health and environmental quality.
In its 2015 budget request, the Obama Administration proposed deep cuts to the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. EPA requested just $1.8 billion – $581 million below enacted levels, or a cut of nearly 25% – for the programs.
All four members of the state’s Congressional delegation – along with several of their colleagues on both sides of the aisle – worked together to restore EPA’s proposed cuts to the programs and ensure Congress successfully appropriated about $2.4 billion necessary for the SRF programs in fiscal year 2015.
As a result, Rhode Island this week received $9.4 million through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and $8.8 million through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), for a total of $18.2 million in clean water financing for water quality protection projects and enhancements.
Administered by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB), the CWSRF provides loans at low interest rates for water quality protection projects that improve wastewater treatment systems, control pollution from storm water runoff, and protect sensitive water bodies and estuaries.
The Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) and the RIIB are the state agencies that oversee the DWSRF, which provides loans at low interest rates for improvements to drinking water systems, focusing especially on small and low-income communities and programs that encourage pollution prevention to ensure that drinking water is safe.
“Investing in clean water infrastructure must be a priority and the federal government needs to be a reliable partner when it comes to maintaining healthy, safe water in our communities. I am proud to have secured this vital funding to help put Rhode Islanders to work modernizing our water infrastructure, reducing pollution, and protecting public health,” said Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee who has long championed these clean water infrastructure programs.
“With the floods of 2010, Hurricane Sandy, and tight local budgets, our water infrastructure has faced serious challenges over the last few years. Rhode Island communities need to upgrade and strengthen wastewater and runoff systems, and prevent water pollution in the first place,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This federal funding will help leverage state efforts to improve our water infrastructure and make it easier for local water systems to afford key projects. That’s why I’m happy to join with my colleagues in the delegation to support these important EPA programs.”
“Ensuring clean water for both drinking and recreation is a matter of public health, environmental health and economic health for Rhode Island,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “These low-interest loans will protect and improve water quality in our state now and in the future, and I am proud to join my colleagues in our continued support for these important public projects.”
“Too often, Rhode Islanders are forced to confront water main breaks, damaging floods, and sewer overflows that result from our state’s aging water infrastructure,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “I am pleased that we have secured more than $18 million to support critical enhancements for water systems in Rhode Island. Investments like these are critical for creating jobs and ensuring the quality of our drinking water.”
Since the beginning of this program, EPA has awarded approximately $443 million to Rhode Island for the construction, expansion, and upgrading of clean water infrastructure resulting in decreased pollutant loadings to waterbodies throughout the state.