8/7/20
PUBLIC INTEREST CENTER, (614) 644-2160
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CITIZEN CONTACT: Kristopher Weiss

Northeast Ohio Communities Receive $181 Million in Financing from Ohio EPA to Improve Wastewater, Drinking Water Infrastructure

Communities in Northeast Ohio are receiving $181 million in low-interest and principal forgiveness funding from Ohio EPA to improve wastewater and drinking water infrastructure and make other water quality improvements. The loans were approved between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2020.

The lower interest rates and principal forgiveness will save these communities more than $30.7 million. Statewide, Ohio EPA awarded approximately $466.5 million in loans during the first half of the year, including $25.5 million in principal forgiveness. Combined, Ohio communities will save more than $90.9 million when compared to market-rate loans.

The projects are improving Ohio’s surface water quality and the reliability and quality of Ohio drinking water systems. The loans include funds to 15 counties to help low-income property owners repair or replace failing home septic systems; these loans do not have to be repaid.

For the first half of 2020, the following Northeast Ohio projects are receiving funding:

  • Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is receiving $47.6 million to upgrade the Easterly Headworks Building conveyor system, improve the aeration tanks and gallery building, replace obsolete logic controllers, and replace HVAC equipment and systems.
  • Youngstown is receiving $15 million to replace primary settling tank equipment and electrical upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant.  
  • Akron is receiving $88.8 million to replace a pump station, upgrade an existing water reclamation facility, reconstruct sanitary and combined sewers, improve and repair a storage facility, and replace lead service lines. The loans include $299,000 in principal forgiveness, meaning this amount does not have to be repaid.
  • Chagrin Falls is receiving $4 million to construct a sanitary sewer overflow elimination system, transfer service to an existing 12-inch line, and design improvements to the wastewater treatment plant. 
  • Barberton is receiving $347,000 to replace the Brentwood Package Plant with a conventional gravity sanitary sewer extension.
  • Canfield is receiving $352,000 to design a sewer extension along Mill Creek bike path.
  • Lagrange is receiving $87,765 to rehabilitate its elevated drinking water storage tank to alleviate corrosion and deterioration in order to provide a safe potable water supply. 
  • Trumbull County is receiving $1.5 million to construct 15,000 linear feet of mainline sanitary sewer pipe to service residences and businesses in Liberty Township.
  • Geauga County is receiving $3.3 million to upgrade the Auburn Corners wastewater treatment plant and connect the Troy Oaks pump station to Auburn Corners.
  • Willoughby is receiving $6.7 million to convert two primary settling tanks to equalization basins.
  • West Salem is receiving $6.1 million to expand the existing wastewater treatment plant from 204,000 gallons per day to 554,000 gallons per day to provide for anticipated future expansion. The loan includes $4 million in principal forgiveness, meaning this amount does not have to be repaid.
  • Alliance is receiving $979,000 to design and construct mixing, aeration, and ventilation equipment for the water treatment plant.
  • Cleveland Museum of Natural History is receiving $1.7 million to protect, in perpetuity, approximately 118-acres (25 acres of Category 3 and Category 2 wetlands, 9,800 linear feet of Primary Headwater Habitat, and 2,600 linear feet of East Branch Cuyahoga River frontage and riparian corridor). The funding is from the Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP). Through the WRRSP, the city of Akron is directing a portion of the interest to be repaid on its WRF Headworks Improvements project loan be used for the restoration project.
  • Cleveland Metroparks is receiving $1.8 million to remove a low-head dam in Bonnie Park, located in the Mill Stream Run Reservation. The project includes stream restoration, creation of an upriver flood plain, and wetlands restoration. The funding is from the Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP). Through the WRRSP, the city of Akron is directing a portion of the interest to be repaid on its WRF Headworks Improvements project loan be used for the restoration project.
  • New Waterford is receiving $95,000 to design a waterline and equipment replacement.
  • Health Departments, Districts, and County Commissions in the following counties are receiving $150,000 in principal forgiveness loans for the repair and replacement of household sewage treatment systems: Carroll, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Holmes, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, and Wayne.
  • Ashtabula County is receiving $100,000 in principal forgiveness loans for the repair and replacement of household sewage treatment systems.

Created in 1989, the Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) helps communities improve their wastewater treatment systems. The Water Supply Revolving Loan Account (WSRLA), started in 1998, provides loans for improvements to community drinking water systems and nonprofit, noncommunity public water systems. Both programs offer below-market interest rate loans, which can save communities a substantial amount of money compared to a market-rate loan.

Ohio EPA’s state revolving fund (SRF) loans are provided to communities to build and upgrade wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, upgrade home sewage treatment systems, better manage storm water, address combined sewer overflows, and implement other water quality-related projects. Financial assistance helps support planning, design, and construction activities and enhances the technical, managerial, and financial capacity of these systems. WPCLF loans also make possible the restoration and protection of some of Ohio’s highest quality water bodies through the fund’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program.

Ohio’s SRF loan programs are partially supported by annual federal capitalization grants and have grown substantially over time because of the revolving nature of the loan issuance and payments back into the fund. The SRF programs are 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 SRF funds.

More information about the SRF loan program is available at: epa.ohio.gov/defa/EnvironmentalandFinancialAssistance.aspx.

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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.

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