U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the Hawaii Department of Health a $10.3 million grant for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and an $8.3 million grant for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for projects to renew water infrastructure.
The Department of Health will provide low-cost loans to counties to upgrade drinking water and wastewater facilities. In Hawaii, where most of the wastewater treatment occurs along the coast, funding will modernize aging systems, and make facilities more energy and water efficient. Statewide, the total infrastructure needs for clean water and drinking water are estimated at $3 billion.
“EPA continues to make substantial investments to protect Hawaii’s drinking water and incomparable coastal waters,” says Alexis Strauss, EPA’s acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest.
Since 1989, EPA has awarded $314 million for Hawaii’s clean water infrastructure program. The state has issued 89 loans totaling more than $715 million, using a combination of the federal funds, a 20 percent state funding match, plus the principle and interest returned as loans are repaid. The monies are used for various water quality projects, including watershed protection and restoration, nonpoint source pollution control, improving water and energy efficiency, and traditional municipal wastewater collection and treatment systems.
Since 1997, EPA has awarded $168 million for Hawaii’s drinking water infrastructure program, and the state has issued 76 loans totaling $230 million. Funds support drinking water treatment and distribution projects, as well as developing water supplies, conducting sanitary surveys and training drinking water operators.
In October 2014, EPA found the Department of Health to be in noncompliance for failing to expend its drinking water funds in a timely manner. The Department has been working under a corrective action plan since January 2015. EPA provided last year’s drinking water funding in phases as the state met the plan’s milestones. As a result of significant progress made, EPA is now awarding all 2016 funds. EPA continues to work with the Department of Health to ensure it achieves all commitments required by the plan.
Forty years ago, when the federal Clean Water Act was passed, Congress charged a fledgling EPA with the goal of making the nation’s waters “fishable and swimmable.” Achieving this goal requires communities to invest in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. The state revolving funds are EPA’s primary tools for helping communities meet their continuing and significant water infrastructure needs. Each state maintains revolving loan fund programs, capitalized by the EPA, to provide low‑cost financing for water quality and drinking water infrastructure projects.