The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that 113 projects, impacting communities across the Commonwealth, are eligible to receive approximately $819 million 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 loans and grants provide critical assistance to Massachusetts cities and towns in order to replace or upgrade deteriorating water infrastructure,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “By investing these funds today, we can leave a better environment and a clean energy future for the next generation.”
“We are pleased to provide this funding to Massachusetts communities and continue our Administration’s commitment to improving local clean water and drinking water infrastructure,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These projects strengthen the partnerships forged between the Commonwealth and local officials as we work together to protect the environment and public health.”
“As Chair of the Clean Water Trust, I am pleased to work with the Baker-Polito Administration to provide our communities with below market rate financing for water quality projects throughout Massachusetts,” said State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg. “These available resources make sure vital projects move forward and will protect the health and safety of the people in our state.”
The State Revolving Fund (SRF) financing is administered by the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust (the 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 78 clean water projects (see Table 1) totaling approximately $622 million and 35 drinking water projects (see Table 1) totaling approximately $195 million. An additional $2 million will be offered by the Trust as grants for 18 Asset Management Planning projects. Communities offered SRF financing in this round must decide to move forward with the project by June 30, 2021, and secure local funding authority.
“Communities across Massachusetts depend on the State Revolving Fund as a low-interest financial lifeline when large water infrastructure projects arise and must be built, as well as to fund clean energy and energy efficiency projects,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “These projects will continue to provide clean water resources for recreation, and reliable and safe drinking water.”
Ten of the drinking water infrastructure projects receiving approximately $160 million in financing will address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination. The 10 projects are located in: Acton, Barnstable, Devens, Dudley, Hudson, Littleton, Mansfield, Millbury, Tri-Town (Braintree, Holbrook and Randolph), and Westfield.
PFAS compounds are a family of chemicals widely used since the 1950s to manufacture common consumer products and used in some legacy fire-fighting foams. PFAS have been linked to a variety of health risks, particularly in women who are pregnant or nursing, and in infants. In October, the Baker-Polito Administration established a protective standard of 20 parts-per-trillion for PFAS in drinking water.
“Community water suppliers work diligently to protect the health of their residents,” said Martin Suuberg, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). “This SRF will provide significant financing to help systems meet protective water quality standards.”
This year, 56 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 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. Sixteen Clean Water applicants have the Housing Choice designation: Acton, Barnstable, Billerica, Bridgewater, Brockton, Fall River, Haverhill, Hingham, Lawrence, Medfield, Nantucket, Quincy, Salem, Taunton, Tyngsborough, and Weymouth; while nine Drinking Water applicants have that designation: Acton, Andover, Franklin, Haverhill, Lawrence, Littleton, Lowell, Mansfield, and Medway.
The SRF is composed of two programs that have provided nearly $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 approximately $622 million in financing for clean water projects across the Commonwealth. Approximately $575 million will finance 49 new construction projects, nearly $30 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 nearly $9 million will finance nine proposed planning projects.
This year, the Drinking Water SRF provides nearly $195 million in financing for drinking water projects across the Commonwealth. Approximately $166 million will finance 21 new construction projects, approximately $23 million will be allocated towards financing six previously approved multi-year projects, $5 million will fund an emergency set-aside account, and nearly $1.3 million is allocated for financing six planning projects.
An additional $2 million will be offered by the Trust as grants for 18 Asset Management Planning projects, with 16 communities qualifying with Clean Water projects and two communities qualifying with Drinking Water projects.
“These state funds are a proactive investment to stimulate engineering and construction in our regional economies while advancing public health in an environmentally conscious manner – the latest example of green growth in Massachusetts,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “These projects ensure end-to-end sustainable usage of one of our most basic, precious natural resources, water, and provide both safe drinking water and proper disposal of wastewater. Each project is a committed partnership between local and state officials to protect residents’ health and ensure a high quality of life for generations to come.”
“Through the State Revolving Fund program, we are providing affordable financing options to help our cities and towns with their water quality improvement projects,” said Speaker of the House Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “I’m pleased to know Quincy, Weymouth and Holbrook will be able to advance their projects with the goal of protecting our water resources and providing a healthy environment for our future generations.”
“I am grateful for this incredible financing opportunity, which will build on prior investments made at the local level to provide cleaner, healthier environments and improve equitable drinking water access for our communities. Safe and healthy available water is important for public health. Moreover, the infrastructure we rely on for clean water and wastewater management must be kept up to date, and this program helps towns meet these goals,” said State Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton). “Congratulations to the communities of Canton, Easton, Stoughton, and Holbrook, Randolph and Braintree for securing financing to support their important projects.”
“Building a new Tri-Town water treatment plant is critical to improving our quality of water and maintaining our independent water supply for Braintree, Holbrook and Randolph,” said State Representative Mark Cusack (D-Braintree). “This financing will allow us to build this long overdue regional plant.”
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 2021 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 2022 plan will be issued by MassDEP in early July 2021.
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.