The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) reports that it issued more than $936 million in 2017 to finance projects that upgrade drinking water infrastructure and improve the quality of Ohio’s lakes, rivers and streams — more than ever before in the 28-year history of the state’s revolving loan programs. All Ohio EPA loans are provided to communities at below market rates, and this year’s loans resulted in a combined savings of more than $150 million for Ohio’s counties, cities, and villages.
“It’s important for Ohioans to know that Ohio EPA is helping communities and business with compliance, technical and financial assistance,” said Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler. “We were able to make this nearly billion dollar investment in water quality improvements because these funds are carefully managed, and we are meeting frequently with county commissioners and mayors to understand their community needs and build positive working relationships between state and local governments.”
Notable for 2017:
- Improvements to wastewater infrastructure (which affect the health of Ohio’s surface waters flowing into Lake Erie and the Ohio River) received $861 million this year;
- $65 million was directed toward improving Ohio’s public water systems;
- $10 million was issued for projects that restore wetlands and counter the loss of Ohio’s natural water resources;
- $36 million was provided in principal-forgiveness financing at zero percent interest (meaning borrowers are not required to repay the loans);
- $13 million was distributed across 51 counties for home sewage treatment system (septic) replacement and upgrades;
- Seventeen loans were issued for large projects of $10 million or greater including combined sewer overflow projects in Cuyahoga, Hamilton, Franklin, Lorain, Lucas, and Summit counties along with large wastewater treatment plant improvements in Miami and Henry counties; and
- $258 million was awarded for projects to separate combined sewer overflows in the Lake Erie watershed.
A summary of the projects may be viewed on Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance website. For 2018, Ohio EPA has already approved a plan to finance more than $1.7 billion in projects for further improving the quality of the state’s surface water.