April 22, 2009

Delegation Celebrates Earth Day, Announces Nearly $20 Million in Clean Water Funding

PROVIDENCE, RI – In an effort to help create green jobs and bolster Rhode Island’s clean-water infrastructure, Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation today announced over $19.76 million in federal funding to improve the quality and safety of the state’s drinking water. The money will flow to the state as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was supported by U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representatives Patrick Kennedy and Jim Langevin, and signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009.

The Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency (RICWFA) will receive $19.5 million in federal funding which it will leverage to provide communities throughout the state with low-interest loans for drinking water systems and finance upgrades to local water-infrastructure projects.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) will receive a $265,800 Water Quality Management Planning (WQMP) grant to help the state determine the nature, extent, and causes of water pollution problems, and to develop plans to solve them. WQMP funds support a broad range of water-related planning activities, including: developing and revising water quality standards; monitoring and assessing waters for problems; and preparing and updating water quality management plans. States are also encouraged to use these funds for more innovative planning activities including developing plans to adapt to climate change, analyzing trends in water availability and use, and creating low-impact development programs.

“At a time when we need to put Rhode Islanders back to work, these funds will help create green jobs and give our communities the resources they need to upgrade our water infrastructure and protect the public health,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.

“In our Ocean State we depend on clean, safe water, and our state has long been a leader in smart, thoughtful water management,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. “This funding will help us do more to protect our precious water, supporting infrastructure improvements and water quality assessments.”

“By making additional financing available to local communities for these infrastructure initiatives, we can ensure safe and efficient drinking water systems while creating jobs for Rhode Islanders. Investments in clean and efficient water and energy systems will preserve our state’s natural resources for future generations,” said Kennedy, a member of the Appropriations Committee.

“As we celebrate Earth Day, it is important to release this recovery funding, which recognizes the critical importance of keeping our water supply healthy and safe,” said Langevin, a founding member of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. “Providing clean drinking water means healthy neighborhoods.”

“The Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency is appreciative of all of the work performed by the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation in securing funds that will positively impact the economics of the State as well as improve water quality. The $19.5 million in ARRA funds will enable the RICWFA to further leverage existing dollars to create a $65 million bond issue to create work in drinking water infrastructure improvement,” said Anthony B. Simeone, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency.

At least 20% of the funds provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are to be used for green infrastructure, water and energy efficiency improvements, and other environmentally innovative projects.


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