U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and Governor Phil Scott on Thursday, Dec. 2, announced that Vermont will be receiving $63,041,000 in funding for drinking water systems and wastewater treatment as a result of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed by President Biden late last month.
The funds will go into the state’s revolving loan funds for drinking water and wastewater. Those funds are loaned or granted to municipalities for constructing, improving or expanding public drinking water and wastewater systems.
This funding is in addition to the state’s annual allocation of approximately $15.8 million for the revolving loan funds, bringing the total federal funding for 2022 to nearly $80 million.
Leahy, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said: “We all know Vermont needs more housing of all types, but one of the barriers to building that housing has long been a lack of sufficient water and wastewater infrastructure. Vermonters across the state have expressed a desire for vibrant, walkable downtowns, where people can step outside their doors and walk to local businesses. Realizing that vision requires precisely the infrastructure that these investments will fund.” Scott said: “The historic investments included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, in addition to the American Rescue Plan, offer Vermont a once in a generation opportunity to invest in our water and sewer infrastructure, which is key to economic growth and ensuring safe and healthy communities. I cannot thank Senator Leahy and our entire congressional delegation enough for their hard work securing these funds. My Administration has made these kinds of investments a top priority, and because of their work, we will be able to have a huge impact on communities in all 14 counties, helping them build back more prosperous and resilient.”
Currently, 200 Vermont communities lack a public wastewater (sewer) system. Communities across the state have been looking at creative ways to provide wastewater treatment at a scale appropriate for their community. This funding will help them plan and build those systems.
Leahy added that the funding for clean drinking water is just as essential. “This money will also provide funding to hopefully end the scourge of lead contamination in our drinking water and help communities whose water supplies have been contaminated by so-called ‘forever chemicals’.”
In his role as head of the Appropriations Committee, Leahy advocated for water and wastewater funding as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law.
Announcing the funds, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan called the law’s funding for water “transformational.” The law sends $50 billion to the EPA “to strengthen the nation’s drinking water and wastewater systems — the single largest investment in water that the federal government has ever made,” Regan wrote.
Most of the funding will go to state revolving loan funds. However, the EPA has identified three priorities for how states use the funding: addressing PFAs (perfluoroalkyls and polyfluoroalkyls) contamination; assisting historically underserved communities, including rural communities; and, replacing lead pipes.
Communities typically receive a combination of low-interest loans and grants from the revolving loan funds to help pay for projects developed locally.