Oregon to receive funds from EPA for wastewater improvements

Kelly J. Kaczala

       Oregon is one of several communities in Northwest Ohio to receive a portion of $14.6 million in low-interest rate and principal forgiveness funding from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to improve wastewater and drinking water infrastructure and to make other water quality improvements.
        These loans (financed through the state’s revolving fund) were approved between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2022.
        The lower interest rates and principal forgiveness will save these communities more than $3 million.
        Statewide, Ohio EPA awarded approximately $220 million in loans during the third quarter of 2022, including more than $10 million in principal forgiveness. Combined, Ohio communities will save approximately $40.1 million when compared to market-rate loans. The projects are improving Ohio’s surface water quality and the reliability and quality of Ohio’s drinking water systems.
        Oregon is receiving $6.2 million to replace the existing chlorine disinfection process at the wastewater treatment plant with ultraviolet disinfection, to make improvements to the existing grit removal system, and safety measures within the plant.
        “It’s ongoing now,” Oregon Public Service Director Paul Roman said. “We awarded that project last June. There is also funding from the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) but the Ohio EPA funding is just a loan.”
        The best management practice with wastewater is to no longer use the chlorine, said Roman.
        “It’s safer for plant staff if there’s ever an accident. You don’t need chlorine anymore. Most communities have switched to UV. It costs more in electricity, but that offsets the cost of the chlorine. So it’s a wash.”
        The project also received an OPWC grant of $900,000, he said, and a $900,000 zero percent loan.
        Other local communities to receive funding include:
        •Northwestern Water and Sewer District in Bowling Green. It is receiving a $1.19 million loan for a project to loop several miles of dead-end water lines along Liberty Hi Road. The project also will provide unserved customers along the route opportunities to connect to public water.
        •Toledo is receiving more than $411,000 to replace private lead water lines while the public side of the service line is replaced. This is a principal forgiveness loan, meaning the loan does not have to be repaid. The private side replacement work will be contracted out to a vendor so that the replacements can be completed at a faster rate.
        •Elmore is receiving more than $94,000 to design a project to extend public drinking water service to existing single-family homes along Dischinger Road and promote additional development in this area north of the Ohio Turnpike.
        •Marblehead is receiving $521,000 to design a project to extend water service to Johnson's Island.
EPA funding
        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, non-community 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 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.


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