Major EPA Funding for Rhode Island Water Infrastructure Projects Will Help Protect Health and the Environment
Funding for lead service line replacement in Providence and to upgrade Narragansett Bay Commission water discharge facility
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing a $190 million loan to the Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC) under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) for resiliency improvements to its Bucklin Point treatment facility which will aid the reduction of pollutant discharges into Narragansett Bay.
EPA is also awarding a $6.4 million grant to Providence Water for lead service line replacement projects under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN). This is among the first-ever competitive grant selections under the WIIN Act's Reduction in Lead Exposure via Drinking Water grants, which will be used to assist communities with removing sources of lead in drinking water.
"Especially during Children's Health Month, EPA is very proud to further support these major projects in Rhode Island which will result in tangible and lasting benefits for communities and citizens," said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. "These projects will generate jobs, significantly advance children's health protections, and improve water quality in Narragansett Bay. This is truly good news for Rhode Island."
WIFIA Loan for Narragansett Bay Commission
The WIFIA loan $190 million WIFIA loan to the Narragansett Bay Commission will be used for the Bucklin Point Resiliency Improvements project. The new loan will augment a $269 million loan announced in 2019 to help fund the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Phase IIIA Facilities project. This project is the second WIFIA loan awarded in New England to help protect public health and the ecosystems of the largest estuary in this region. Nationwide since March 2020, WIFIA has announced twenty-one loans and updated six existing loans with lower interest rates. These recent announcements will save ratepayers $1.4 billion.
"Many wastewater treatment facilities are relying on yesterday's infrastructure to deal with tomorrow's problems. At the Narragansett Bay Commission, we are gratified to move forward with this important project to improve our resiliency and protect the water quality of the Seekonk River and Narragansett Bay. We're very grateful for the investment that the EPA is making in our clean water infrastructure. The WIFIA loan also ensures that the cost of this ambitious clean water project will be mitigated for our ratepayers," said Vincent Mesolella, Chairman, Narragansett Bay Commission.
WIIN Grant Funding for Lead Service Line Replacement
The $6.4 million EPA has awarded to Providence Water will fund, at no cost to homeowners, the removal and replacement of an estimated 1,400 private lead lines from households within the distribution system. For such replacements, Providence Water will replace, at their cost, any public lead pipes that may be connected to the private lead lines. Coupled with recent upgrades made by Providence Water to the system's corrosion control treatment, this EPA grant will go a long way towards "Getting the Lead Out" of drinking water at the taps of citizens throughout Providence and surrounding communities.
"Providence Water is committed to reducing elevated levels of lead in drinking water found in some of our customers' homes," said Ricky Caruolo, General Manager of Providence Water. "While drinking water that leaves our treatment plant and flows through our distribution system has no detectable levels of lead, some of our customers' service pipes and plumbing fixtures like faucets, valves, brass pipes and pipe solder can contain lead. This $6.4 million grant award from the EPA will allow us to continue our work helping customers in disadvantaged neighborhoods replace their private side lead service lines. We thank our team at Providence Water for working with the EPA to identify and apply for this drinking water grant opportunity, and we thank the EPA for their continued partnership and leadership in helping communities reduce lead in drinking water."
"This grant aligns perfectly with the Rhode Island Department of Health's commitment to ensuring access to safe drinking water in every community in Rhode Island," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. "Lead service line replacement is one of the most important long-term steps to take to reduce levels of lead in drinking water. This is particularly true for childhood lead exposure. RIDOH commends the Providence Water Supply Board for applying for this grant and thanks EPA for this commitment to the sustained health of all Rhode Islanders."
Background on WIIN Act
The 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (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. Since 2018, EPA has made available more than $69 million to support the Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water and $42.8 million to assist public water systems in underserved, small and disadvantaged communities meet Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.
For more information visit: https://www.epa.gov/safewater/grants
Background on WIFIA
Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by EPA. WIFIA's aim is to accelerate investment in the nation's water infrastructure by providing long-term and low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. EPA's WIFIA program plays an important part in President Trump's infrastructure plan, which calls for expanding project eligibility. The WIFIA program has an active pipeline of pending applications for projects that will result in billions of dollars in water infrastructure investment and thousands of jobs.
For more information about the WIFIA program, visit https://www.epa.gov/wifia .