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New figures released today by the U.S. EPA reveal that the federal government and the states have invested almost $53 billion in the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) program to rebuild and refurbish the nation's wastewater infrastructure over the last 18 years. The figures are published in the “Clean Water State Revolving Fund Programs: 2005 Annual Report.”
The report also highlights the innovative ideas of state CWSRF programs and includes an update on the financial performance of the CWSRF program. The CWSRF is the largest federal funding program for wastewater infrastructure projects, such as treatment plants and collection systems. The CWSRF has made almost 17,000 loans since the program's inception in 1988.
“EPA is committed to helping our partners sustain progress and increase opportunities for state revolving funds through financial stewardship, innovation and collaboration,” said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. “This report demonstrates the power of partnerships to leverage, innovate and excel to meet wastewater infrastructure, watershed protection and community health needs.”
The CWSRF includes annual EPA contributions matched with at least an additional 20% from the states. The states, in turn, make low-interest loans to local utilities. The interest income and repayments derived from the loans help fund future projects. Many states also issue bonds, which added $940 million to the fund last year. Annual CWSRF assistance has averaged about $4.5 billion. Borrowers save an average of 21% on financing costs over the life of the loan.
Just as the program has expanded since it began, the CWSRF continues to evolve. In 2005, states began submitting information to track environmental benefits. Each project is linked to a river, lake or stream and to beneficial uses of that body of water such as fishing and swimming. More than 60% of the total funding reported goes to projects that protect drinking water, preserve fish habitat and provide for water recreation.