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ARRA helps bring water benefits to state residents

2/4/2010

A total of 39 projects funded by West Virginia’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund will provide improved wastewater treatment service to thousands of citizens in the Mountain State. Two of the projects will bring sewage treatment facilities to communities for the first time.

Administered by the state Department of Environmental Protection, West Virginia’s CWSRF normally issues low-interest loans for 12 to 15 wastewater-related projects across the state each year. But because of $61 million in federal stimulus money added to the state’s CWSRF in 2009 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), 39 projects in 22 different West Virginia counties are now under construction contracts.

State officials had a Feb. 17, 2010, deadline to have all of West Virginia’s CWSRF federal stimulus money under contract.

“We made it with two weeks to spare,” said Mike Johnson, program manager for West Virginia’s CWSRF, which typically receives about $10 to $20 million per year in federal funding, although $31 million has been allocated for 2010. The fund also relies on state contributions.

“All West Virginians deserve clean water and the best possible sewage treatment systems where they live,” said DEP Cabinet Secretary Randy Huffman. “Over the years, through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, we’ve been able to provide low-interest loans to help communities improve their wastewater treatment systems and subsequently their citizens’ quality of life. With the infusion of stimulus funds in 2009, not only were we able to ramp up our efforts to reach more homes in the state, but existing jobs were saved and new ones created.”

Gov. Joe Manchin said, “This administration remains highly committed to providing the fundamental infrastructure needs such as sanitary sewer service to the people across the state. This basic utility is important to the families and communities that deserve it, and need it. And it’s a building block to our future.”

The 39 projects are worth $139 million. West Virginia’s CWSRF will loan $111 million in state and federal dollars -- $28.7 million is supplied by other sources -- for the projects, $50 million of which will be repayable. All debt is forgiven on stimulus money.

The projects also created or sustained over 300 jobs, with stimulus funding directly responsible for nearly half of those.

Fifteen of the 39 projects are extending sewer service to an additional 2,903 customers (about 6,700 citizens) who presently rely on septic tanks or have direct discharges into streams. Other projects include new sewage treatment facilities for the towns of Kermit in Mingo County and Leon in Mason County, which presently have none. There are also “green” projects under contract, such as rain gardens in Morgantown; upgrades to more energy-efficient equipment in a treatment plant in Bluefield; and the elimination of a pump station in Shepherdstown, which will save energy.

In all, about 198,000 West Virginia citizens will see benefits from the projects, Johnson said.

Johnson said West Virginia will find out by March 8 if any states failed to allocate all of their stimulus funds under the CWSRF. Remaining ARRA money will be reallocated to the states that were able to commit all of their funds by the February deadline.

Tom Aluise
(304) 926-0499 x 1138