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Baker-Polito Administration Awards $1.3 Billion in Loans and Grants to Fund Wastewater and Drinking Water Infrastructure Projects 

BOSTONThe Baker-Polito Administration today announced that 183 projects across the Commonwealth are eligible to receive approximately $1.3 billion in low-interest-rate loans and grants to fund construction, planning and asset management projects designed to improve water quality, upgrade or replace aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and cut treatment plant energy use and costs. These offerings include nearly $189 million in additional funding that Massachusetts expects to receive from federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and $100 million from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds this year.

“Wastewater and drinking water facilities play a crucial role in protecting our environment and the public health, and this financing supports the efforts of our cities and towns to make upgrades and modernize this vital water infrastructure,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The Baker-Polito Administration has made it a priority to invest in our critical infrastructure, including proposed two rounds of ARPA funding, to fund important projects. These projects will increase the availability of safe, clean, and reliable water resources across the Commonwealth for many years to come.”

“Our communities deserve wastewater and drinking water infrastructure that fully serves their needs, protects their residents from harm, and preserves our natural resources,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Additionally, this State Revolving Fund financing will help stimulate local economies by building new treatment facilities and replacing outdated waterlines.”

“I am proud to announce, in collaboration with the Baker-Polito Administration, this important investment in water infrastructure for our cities and towns. These projects are critical to the health and wellbeing of everyone here in Massachusetts,” said State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, Chair of the Clean Water Trust. “This increase in federal grant funding plus low interest rate loans through the Trust allows communities to finance cost-effective water infrastructure projects.”

The State Revolving Fund (SRF) financing is administered by the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust and funds projects implemented by cities and towns, regional water supply and wastewater treatment districts, and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). The projects include 88 clean water projects (see Table 1) totaling approximately $963 million and 61 drinking water projects (see Table 1) totaling approximately $363 million. An additional $3.7 million will be offered by the Trust as grants for 34 Asset Management Planning projects. Communities offered SRF financing in this round must decide to move forward with the project by June 30, 2022, and secure local funding authority.

“The State Revolving Fund loan program assists communities and water utilities by updating their water infrastructure, investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy at treatment facilities, and addressing the problem of emerging contaminants in our drinking water,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “These efforts make the delivery of local water resources more sustainable, reliable, and affordable.”

In accordance with the Clean Energy Results Program under the direction of MassDEP, 17 of the water infrastructure projects receiving financing are for renewable energy, energy efficiency or green infrastructure initiatives. Energy use at wastewater and drinking water treatment facilities is a major contributor to overall energy consumption for many cities and towns, with communities statewide spending approximately $150 million per year on electricity to treat 662 billion gallons of wastewater and drinking water. About 30 percent of municipal energy use derives from water treatment.

“Treatment facilities and water infrastructure are important to the quality of life in our communities,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “When we upgrade treatment plant equipment and processes or install renewable technologies, these facilities become more energy efficient, reduce air emissions, save communities money and ultimately, better protect our natural resources.

This year, 90 of the new projects are eligible to receive principal forgiveness. Principal forgiveness is awarded to renewable energy projects and for projects in communities that meet the affordability criteria established by the Clean Water Trust. The affordability criteria factors in per capita income, unemployment rate, and population trends.

The Commonwealth has also offered to reduce the SRF borrowing rate from 2 percent to 1.5 percent for communities that support the Housing Choice Initiative. Twenty-eight applicants have the Housing Choice designation: Acton, Amherst, Andover, Barnstable, Belchertown, Billerica, Boston, Brockton, Burlington, Fall River, Franklin, Framingham, Haverhill, Lawrence, Littleton, Lowell, Lynn, Medfield, Medway, Nantucket, Northampton, Orleans, Quincy, Plymouth, Swampscott, Taunton, Tewksbury and Tyngsborough.

The SRF is composed of two programs that have provided more than $8 billion to Massachusetts projects: the Clean Water Fund, first capitalized in 1989; and the Drinking Water Fund, which began operation in 1999. More information on the two SRF programs can be found here.

This year, the Clean Water SRF provides $963 million in financing for clean water projects across the Commonwealth. Approximately $898 million will finance 67 new construction projects, $41 million will be allocated towards financing four previously approved multi-year projects, $3 million has been allocated to the emergency set-aside account, $5 million will be directed to the Community Septic Management Program to remediate failed septic systems in participating communities, and $15 million will finance 17 proposed planning projects.

This year, the Drinking Water SRF provides $363 million in financing for drinking water projects across the Commonwealth. Approximately $319 million will finance 43 new construction projects, approximately $29 million will be allocated towards financing six previously approved multi-year projects, $5 million will fund an emergency set-aside account, and nearly $10 million is allocated for financing 12 planning projects.

An additional $3.7 million will be offered by the Trust as grants for 34 Asset Management Planning projects, with 27 communities qualifying with Clean Water projects and seven communities qualifying with Drinking Water projects.

“Water is an essential resource like no other, and must be protected, sustained and made available to all residents,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “The distribution of these grants for drinking water and clean water will provide communities such as Framingham, Medway, and Franklin with the resources to upgrade or replace aging infrastructure and improve water quality. Each project represents a committed partnership between local and state officials to protect public health and ensure a high quality of life for residents for generations to come. I thank the Department of Environmental Protection for spearheading this important work."

“I’m pleased to know that through these affordable financing options, Quincy and Holbrook will be able to advance their water quality improvement projects,” said Speaker of the House Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “The projects will protect our water resources and provide a healthy environment and better quality of life for our residents.”

“Water is a precious resource, and we must make investments to ensure that it is available, sustainable, and of high quality,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “These funds make possible the kind of practical investments that make a real difference every day in keeping our waters clean so that we can all benefit.”

“Municipalities throughout my district and the Commonwealth at large face serious financial and technical difficulties in water resource management due to PFAS and sorely needed infrastructure upgrades,” said State Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture. “I am proud to be part of the state government team delivering meaningful results for our communities. Pouring more than a billion dollars into Bay State water infrastructure, this grant funding is simply game-changing for towns and cities across Massachusetts, which will now have increased support in protecting the public health of the residents they serve.”

“Clean drinking water and proper management of wastewater are important elements of addressing environmental concerns. In fact, it's an essential pillar in the stewardship of the health of our people and our natural resources,” said State Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester), Vice Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. “I'm pleased to see that Cape Ann communities are part of this grant announcement and the work of providing a healthy and clean environment to the Commonwealth."

“I am delighted that the town of Amherst has qualified to apply for low-interest financing to replace its water treatment plant through the State Revolving Fund loan program,” said State Representative Mindy Domb (D-Amherst). “I'm thrilled that the town's longstanding efforts to make significant infrastructure improvements, upgrade its water systems and protect the health of its residents will be supported by this federal and state partnership. I also want to express my great appreciation to our federal delegation, in particular Congressman McGovern, Senator Warren and Senator Markey, in passing President Biden's infrastructure law so that critically needed local projects like this and others like it can move forward.”

Massachusetts awards subsidized infrastructure financing under the SRF, which is administered by the Trust – a joint effort of MassDEP, the Executive Office of Administration and Finance and the State Treasurer’s Office.

To be eligible for Clean Water or Drinking Water SRF loans, municipalities, wastewater districts and water suppliers filed applications with MassDEP last year demonstrating that proposed projects offer significant public health or water quality benefits, have local funding authorization, and demonstrate that there is a commitment on the borrower’s part to file a timely loan application. The projects on the 2022 SRF list must now file loan applications and receive MassDEP approval to obtain funding.

The next SRF project solicitation for proposals to be considered for the 2023 intended use plan will open by MassDEP no later than July 1, 2022.

MassDEP’s mission is to protect and enhance the Commonwealth’s natural resources – air, water and land – to provide for the health, safety and welfare of all people, and a clean and safe environment for future generations. In carrying out this mission, MassDEP commits to address and advance environmental justice and equity for all people of the Commonwealth, provide meaningful, inclusive opportunities for people to participate in agency decisions that affect their lives, and ensure a diverse workforce that reflects the communities served by the agency.

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