Arizona water and wastewater infrastructure improved by EPA grants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $27 million to Arizona to help finance improvements to water projects that are essential to protecting public health and the environment.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $27 million to Arizona to help finance improvements to water projects that are essential to protecting public health and the environment.

The Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona (WIFA) will use the funds to provide low-cost loans for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure upgrades. WIFA's Clean Water State Revolving Fund provides financing for municipal wastewater treatment projects, while its Drinking Water State Revolving Fund provides financial assistance for basic drinking water infrastructure for both public and private drinking water systems.

"EPA is continuing its investment in Arizona's water infrastructure," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "Our goal is to ensure that Arizona has safe, reliable drinking water and proper wastewater treatment."

The EPA has awarded more than $240 million in federal funding for Arizona's Clean Water State Revolving Fund from inception of the program. WIFA increases the investment in Arizona by leveraging the federal dollars on the bond market. WIFA's Clean Water Revolving Fund reached $1.4 billion in assistance provided cumulatively, with a total of 171 wastewater treatment projects funded through 2012. The funds are used for a wide variety of water quality projects, including nonpoint source pollution control, watershed protection or restoration, water and energy efficiency projects, wastewater reclamation, and traditional municipal wastewater treatment projects.

WIFA's Drinking Water Revolving Fund has received $297.1 million in federal funding to date. WIFA has issued 185 drinking water loans totaling $713 million through 2012. Funds to the program also support projects like drinking water plant operator training, and technical assistance.

"One of the best things about WIFA is our ability to help communities throughout Arizona with their water infrastructure needs," said WIFA Executive Director, Sandy Sutton. "Not only are we able to award very low-interest rate loans, we also offer incentives for green projects and even further financial incentives for disadvantaged communities. For some communities, this is their only option when it comes to improving or upgrading their water infrastructure."

Forty years ago, when the federal Clean Water Act was made law, Congress charged a fledgling EPA with the goal of making the nation's waters "fishable and swimmable." Achieving this goal requires communities to make large investments in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. The state revolving funds are EPA's primary tools for helping communities meet their continuing and significant water infrastructure needs. Each state maintains revolving loan fund programs, capitalized by the EPA, to provide low-cost financing for water quality infrastructure projects.

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