By Beth Daley, Globe Staff
The state's water processing plants and labyrinth of drinking water and sewage pipes are getting a $185 million upgrade from federal stimulus money, US Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson announced today.
The federal money will be used for more than 127 ready-to-be constructed projects – from a sewer extension in Acton to a water main replacement in West Springfield – and will account for 8 to 14 percent of the projects' costs. The funds are designed to create jobs and fix aging infrastructure while improving public health and the environment.
"Keeping the water supply clean and safe for millions of people will bring new jobs and opportunites to Massachusetts communities,'' Jackson said. "Protecting our health and the environment is a great way to put people to work and build a new foundation for prosperity."
Most of the money will be given to communities as grants and the rest will go into a fund that gives out low-interest loans. As a result, 80 projects will be able to complete sewer upgrades that total about $744 million. Fifty-two drinking water projects will also be constructed for $242 million.
One condition of the money is that 20 percent must go to “green infrastructure” investments that make water treatment facilities more cost effective and environmentally friendly.
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which delivers drinking water -- and scrubs wastewater -- for more than 2 million people in Eastern Massachusetts, received $25 million in stimulus money, of which $1.6 million will go to install roof-top solar panels at the Deer Island Sewage Treatment Facility. The MWRA currently gets about 20 percent of its electricity from methane created by its waste treatment. It is in the middle of building two wind turbines.
“These projects are vital to the health and vitality of communities here in Massachusetts and across the country,’’ said Governor Deval Patrick.
Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, some $6 billion dollars will be awarded to fund water and wastewater infrastructure projects across the country in the form of low-interest loans, principal forgiveness, and grants.
For a full listing of the 2009 Clean Water projects, go to: http://www.mass.gov/dep/water/wastewater/09cwiup.pdf
For a full listing of the 2009 Drinking Water projects, go to: http://www.mass.gov/dep/water/wastewater/09dwiup.pdf