On February 16, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara and the Clean Water Advisory Council announced the next $16 million in water infrastructure projects through the Delaware Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), bringing the number of ongoing projects to 41, totaling nearly $100 million. The loans will finance 16 new projects that will protect public health and the environment and are vital to the economic vitality of Delaware communities.
Among those loans, Kent County Levy Court was awarded almost $7 million for state-of-the-art upgrades to the county’s Wastewater Treatment Plant near Milford. The upgrades include a new nutrient removal system and the expansion of treatment capacity to meet the needs of a growing county. To cover the total project costs of $18.4 million, this project was able to leverage USDA funding of more than $11 million. In addition 6,000 photovoltaic solar panels were installed with CWSRF financing from last year and are generating more than 2,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year, reducing the plant’s carbon footprint. The solar panels also reduce the plant’s electricity costs by almost 20 percent and will save ratepayers money.
The CWSRF is a multi-million dollar program created by the Delaware General Assembly in 1990 and administered by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. Projects are reviewed by the Clean Water Advisory Council, a 12-member committee appointed by Governor Markell, and recommended to DNREC’s Secretary Collin O’Mara for funding.
“Investing nearly $100 million in clean water infrastructure is good for the economy and good for the environment,” said Governor Markell. “It creates local jobs and long term water quality benefits. By creatively leveraging numerous funding streams, we have more clean water projects underway than any time in our state’s history.”
CWSRF investments are supported by U.S. EPA capitalization grants and State of Delaware matching funds. In 2009 an infusion of $18 million in federal stimulus funds was provided for the CWSRF by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). ARRA funds were leveraged with existing Delaware CWSRF funds of $32.9 million, USDA co-funding of $32.4 million and federal earmark/developer contributions of $1.9 million for a total of $85.7 million in project funding.
“This funding supports vital projects for preserving and improving water quality, drinking water sources and natural habitat in Delaware’s rivers, lakes and streams,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “Clean water is our shared obligation to the people of Delaware, and EPA is proud to continue providing resources that help communities implement these essential wastewater and pollution controls.”
The CWSRF is also able to leverage additional funding for projects from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Business and Community Program.
“Helping to provide safe, clean drinking water and sanitary disposal of wastewater has been the calling of Rural Development for many years,” said Jack Tarburton, USDA Rural Development State Director.
“We are pleased to be a partner with the State Delaware in this announcement today to protect our natural resources and local waterways from pollution. In almost every case, our agency works with EPA, State and local officials to offer technical assistance and financing opportunities for water and wastewater projects that otherwise would be out of reach for many local budgets.”
The new clean water infrastructure loans announced will help county and local governments finance eight municipal projects that improve water quality, expand treatment capacity and reduce operating costs at wastewater treatment facilities, which will save ratepayers money.
Together, these projects will eliminate 135 individual septic systems and reduce the annual nutrient load entering our bays and streams by almost 1,500 pounds of nitrogen and more than 60 pounds of phosphorus. Excess quantities of these pollutants harm water quality and damage wildlife and fish habitat.