OHIO VALLEY — Communities in Southeast Ohio are receiving a total of $52 million in low-interest and principal forgiveness funding from Ohio EPA to improve wastewater and drinking water infrastructure and make other water quality improvements. The loans were approved between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2020.
The lower interest rates and principal forgiveness will save these communities more than $20.3 million. Statewide, Ohio EPA awarded approximately $466.5 million in loans during the first half of the year, including $25.5 million in principal forgiveness. Combined, Ohio communities will save more than $90.9 million when compared to market-rate loans.
The projects are improving Ohio’s surface water quality and the reliability and quality of Ohio drinking water systems. The loans include funds to 18 counties to help low-income property owners repair or replace failing home septic systems; these loans do not have to be repaid.
For the first half of 2020, the following local projects are receiving funding:
Leading Creek Conservancy District is receiving $6.9 million to replace the existing water line with a new 14-inch high density polyethylene raw water main. The loan includes $780,000 in principal forgiveness, meaning this amount does not have to be repaid.
Pomeroy is receiving $455,000 to replace water meters.
Middleport is receiving $240,000 to replace water mains and services and make improvements to wells.
Health Departments, Districts, and County Commissioners in the following counties are each receiving $150,000 in principal forgiveness loans for the repair and replacement of household sewage treatment systems: Athens, Belmont, Gallia, Harrison, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Morgan, Muskingum, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Tuscarawas, and Washington.
Coshocton County, Meigs County General Health District, and Vinton County each are receiving $100,000 in principal forgiveness loans for the repair and replacement of household sewage treatment systems.
Created in 1989, the Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) helps communities improve their wastewater treatment systems. The Water Supply Revolving Loan Account (WSRLA), started in 1998, provides loans for improvements to community drinking water systems and non-profit, non-community public water systems. Both programs offer below-market interest rate loans, which can save communities a substantial amount of money compared to a market-rate loan.
Ohio EPA’s state revolving fund (SRF) loans are provided to communities to build and upgrade wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, upgrade home sewage treatment systems, better manage storm water, address combined sewer overflows and implement other water quality-related projects. Financial assistance helps support planning, design, and construction activities and enhances the technical, managerial, and financial capacity of these systems. WPCLF loans also make possible the restoration and protection of some of Ohio’s highest quality water bodies through the fund’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program.
Ohio’s SRF loan programs are partially supported by annual federal capitalization grants and have grown substantially over time because of the revolving nature of the loan issuance and payments back into the fund. The SRF programs are managed by Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance, with assistance from the Ohio Water Development Authority. Ohio EPA is responsible for program development and implementation, individual project coordination, and environmental and other technical reviews/approvals of projects seeking funds. The Ohio Water Development Authority provides financial management of the SRF funds.
Information from the Ohio EPA.