TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Water Resource Management awarded a total of $393,459,151 from the Department’s State Revolving Fund programs to fund local projects in fiscal year 2012/2013. These loans help local governments fund improvements to their wastewater, stormwater and drinking water facilities, which helps protect and restore the environment around them.
“The Department continues to work with local governments throughout Florida to upgrade their wastewater, stormwater and drinking water facilities via the State Revolving Fund program,” said Director of Water Resource Management Mark Thomasson. “The program provides local governments the ability to finance necessary upgrades to their systems to help protect and restore the environment.”
State Revolving Fund programs provide financial savings for projects that benefit the environment, including protection of public health and conservation of local watersheds. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund program was established in 1989 to provide low-interest financing for the planning, design and construction of wastewater and stormwater facilities, in compliance with the Clean Water Act. This program has awarded $3.6 billion in loans since its inception. The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program was established in 1998 to provide low-interest assistance for the planning, design and construction of drinking water facilities, in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. This program has awarded 751 million dollars since its inception.
In fiscal year 2012/2013, the Department awarded $316,212,643 through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for wastewater and stormwater facility projects and $77,246,508 through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for drinking water facility projects. A total of 41 new agreements were signed this past fiscal year among the two programs.
Out of 23 new agreements made under the clean water program, one was made for a loan of $46,194,014 to Islamorada, Village of Islands. This project is for the construction of a regional wastewater collection and transmission system. Currently, nutrients from the existing wastewater systems are causing elevated nutrient levels in the near shore waters of the Florida Keys which may be contributing to the deterioration of the coral reef. This project, combined with others in the area, will reduce nutrient loading, improve water quality and slow the degradation of the reef.
The drinking water program approved 18 new agreements in fiscal year 2012/2013. One of these agreements was for the city of Tavares to make improvements to the existing water distribution system as part of the city’s downtown revitalization effort. The Community Redevelopment Area project includes a $7 million project loan for the installation of approximately six to seven miles of piping to serve the city’s central business district, the Lake Dora waterfront, single-family neighborhoods, and regional commercial corridors. Other improvements will improve the city’s system pressures, increase system capacity and reliability, minimize system maintenance and improve water quality.
Funded by federal grants, state matching funds, loan repayments and interest earnings, state revolving fund loans are offered at interest rates as low as 40 percent of the current market rate. Repayments from earlier loans are used to make new loans, allowing the program to continue operating.
In addition to the State Revolving Fund loan programs, the Division also provides financial assistance through the Small Community Wastewater Construction Grants Program. In fiscal year 2012/2013, this program provided more than $12 million in grants to small financially disadvantaged municipalities for projects to rehabilitate and upgrade existing facilities, eliminate septic tanks and expand reclaimed water systems. Though funds are limited, this program enables high priority projects to be constructed that could not be constructed without this assistance. The revenue stream for the grant program is from half of the financing rate charged on most loans from the clean water program.
This past fiscal year, the grant program provided a $632,437 grant for the city of Dunnellon. The grant will result in the abandonment of a non-compliant wastewater treatment plant on the Rainbow River. The wastewater collected in this system will be sent to another wastewater facility that is currently meeting standards.
For more information on the State Revolving Fund program, please visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wff/ .