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Ohio EPA Celebrates 25th Year of Loan Program to Help Communities Clean up Water Pollution
The Maumee River and Swan Creek, the Ottawa River and Lake Erie are a few examples where Ohioans are seeing nutrient and bacteria levels drop, thanks in part to a loan program Ohio EPA started 25 years ago. The Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) allows communities to borrow money at below-market rates to improve their wastewater treatment systems.
Leveraging the WPCLF’s low-interest loans, Toledo has been able to remove untreated sewage that flowed into its storm water sewers and better remove bacteria and nutrients from water that it discharges. This will help ensure cleaner water is discharged to area streams and subsequently Lake Erie.
“This loan program has made water quality improvement more affordable to hundreds of communities,” said Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler. “We have never turned away a loan applicant because of lack of funds in the history of the fund, and we are eager to continue helping Ohio communities well into the future.”
More than 1,850 loans have been awarded since the program was created in 1989, with recent examples including:
- New Athens (Harrison County) – eliminated longstanding unsanitary conditions by addressing failing septic and secondary systems and installing a complete wastewater treatment system;
- Canton (Stark County) – removed excess nutrients from wastewater and increased daily peak capacity at its wastewater treatment plant; and
- Zaleski (Vinton County) – eliminated unsanitary conditions caused by widespread failing of on-lot septic systems and helped minimize lowering of water quality within the Raccoon Creek watershed by providing sanitary sewers to 172 homes.
In addition to traditional wastewater system improvements, low-interest loans also have been provided to municipalities and individuals for agricultural best management practices; home sewage system improvement; contaminated site cleanup; and landfill closures. Additionally, the WPCLF provides technical assistance to public wastewater systems in a variety of areas from the planning, design and construction of improvements to enhancing the technical, managerial and financial capacity of these systems. And, WPCLF loans make possible the restoration and protection of some of Ohio’s highest quality water bodies through the fund’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program.
The state revolving loan fund is partially supported by federal grants and designed to last indefinitely through repayment of loans and investments in bonds.
The loan program is managed by Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance, with assistance from the Ohio Water Development Authority. Ohio EPA is responsible for program development and implementation, individual project coordination, and environmental and other technical reviews/approvals of projects seeking funds. The Ohio Water Development Authority provides financial management of the fund.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. Since then, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling.