EPA Awards Approximately $90 Million to Address Water Infrastructure in Massachusetts
Includes $10+ Million to Reduce Lead in Boston Drinking Water
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced funding to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts totaling more than $90 million for major water infrastructure projects in communities across the state. As part of the overall funding, EPA is announcing significant amounts to address lead in drinking water in schools in Boston, and schools and childcare facilities in communities across Massachusetts.
In two annual amounts, EPA is awarding the Commonwealth of Massachusetts nearly $54 million for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), and more than $25 million for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). This funding is available for a wide range of water infrastructure projects, including modernizing aging wastewater infrastructure, addressing stormwater, and to improve drinking water infrastructure. EPA is also helping Massachusetts prioritize projects that remove sources of lead in drinking water by facilitating a one-time transfer of $30 million from the state’s CWSRF to its DWSRF for lead-related, DWSRF-eligible projects.
In addition to these sums, EPA is announcing significant grant funding to address lead in drinking water in schools in Boston, and schools and childcare facilities in communities across Massachusetts. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Clean Water Trust will receive $3 million, and Boston Public Schools will receive $6.2 million. These were among the first-ever selections under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act’s (WIIN) Reduction in Lead Exposure via Drinking Water grants, which will be used to assist schools and childcare facilities in disadvantaged communities by installing thousands of water fountains and bottle filling stations in hundreds of schools and childcare facilities throughout Massachusetts.
“Especially during Children’s Health Month, EPA is proud to further support our state and local partners’ critical work to reduce childrens’ exposure to lead levels in drinking water by replacing water fountains and installing filtered bottle filling stations which work to Get the Lead Out,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. “These projects will result in tangible and lasting benefits by significantly advancing health protections for children, our most vulnerable population, with a focus on Boston and disadvantaged communities across Massachusetts.”
“As Chair of the Clean Water Trust, I am very happy with the successful results of our partnership with the EPA and MassDEP. Our continuing collaboration ensures the opportunity for clean drinking water throughout our entire state,” said Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg. “Children’s Health Month is a wonderful opportunity to educate everyone on the expanded resources available to protect the health and safety of our kids.”
“Reducing lead in drinking water is a priority for the Commonwealth and the funding announced today by the EPA will be a tremendous resource as we work to protect public health all across the state,” said Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “With these funds, we can expand our testing program and sample over 600 more schools and childcare facilities, partner with the Clean Water Trust to install more than 1,200 filtered water-bottle filling stations at schools and childcare centers, modernize our aging wastewater infrastructure and improve drinking water systems across Massachusetts.”
“We are so appreciative of this incredible grant, which will build on prior investments to provide cleaner, healthier school environments and improve equitable drinking water access for Boston Public Schools students, families, and staff,” said Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. “This funding will help BPS continue to meet state and federal guidelines, reduce environmental impacts, accommodate school preference for filtered bottle refill stations, and promote the overall health and well-being of our community.”
WIIN Funding to Address Lead in Drinking Water in Schools
The Massachusetts projects announced under the WIIN program are among only 10 projects selected nationwide to share in nearly $40 million in grant funding. The funds will be used to conduct projects that will reduce lead exposure in drinking water by replacing thousands of lead service lines and removing potential sources of lead in hundreds of schools and childcare facilities across the United States. EPA anticipates that it will award the WIIN Act grants once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied. These grants will augment $1.28 million previously awarded by EPA to assist with lead testing in drinking water in Massachusetts schools.
EPA has also awarded the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection $1.28 million over three fiscal years—2018 through 2020—to improve lead in drinking water testing in schools and childcare facilities under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN). This funding will support a state lead in water testing management strategy that will prioritize sampling activities in schools and childcare facilities in underserved communities. Based on more robust lead in drinking water testing, childhood exposure to lead will be reduced by routine water testing, notification, and practices to get lead out of drinking water.
The 2016 WIIN Act addresses, supports, and improves America's drinking water infrastructure. Included in the WIIN Act are three drinking water grants that promote public health and the protection of the environment. For more information on the WIIN grant program, see: https://www.epa.gov/dwcapacity/water-infrastructure-improvements-nation-act-wiin-act-grant-programs.
State Revolving Fund (Clean Water and Drinking Water)
In 2020, EPA awarded $1.6 billion nationwide in new federal grant funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), including $53,954,000 for Massachusetts. This funding is available for a wide range of water infrastructure projects, including modernizing aging wastewater infrastructure, implementing water reuse and recycling and addressing stormwater.
In 2020, EPA also awarded $1.07 billion across the country in new federal grant funding for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), including $25,549,000 for Massachusetts. This funding can be used for loans that help drinking water systems install treatment for contaminants and improve distribution systems by upgrading water mains, pipes, and tanks, and strengthen water resiliency to natural disasters such as floods.
As of last year, EPA has provided over $2.2 billion in CWSRF and DWSRF capitalization grants to the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust, and through additional state funding, aggressive leveraging, and interest earnings, the state has provided over $8.3 billion in low interest loans for wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water infrastructure projects.
Under the CWSRF and DWSRF programs, EPA provides funding to all 50 states and Puerto Rico to capitalize SRF loan programs. The states and Puerto Rico contribute an additional 20 percent to match the federal funding. The SRF programs function like infrastructure banks by providing low-interest loans to eligible recipients for drinking water and clean water infrastructure projects. As the loan principal and interest are repaid over time, it allows the state’s DWSRF and CWSRF to be recycled or “revolve.” As money is returned to the state’s revolving loan fund, the state makes new loans to other eligible recipients. These funds can also be combined with EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans to create a powerful, innovative financing solution for major infrastructure projects. For more information on the SRF programs, see: https://www.epa.gov/dwsrf and https://www.epa.gov/cwsrf.
WIFTA Funding Transfer
The Water Infrastructure Fund Transfer Act (WIFTA) was passed in 2019 and allowed states a one-time transfer from the Clean Water SRF to the Drinking Water SRF for lead-related, DWSRF-eligible projects. The funds transferred are to be used by the State to provide 100% additional subsidy. Massachusetts transferred $30 million on September 30, 2020 for lead abatement projects. Projects that will utilize this subsidy funding will be identified in the 2021 and 2022 Drinking Water SRF Intended Use Plans.
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