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BOSTON - (September 16, 2022) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded over $66 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to Rhode Island for water infrastructure improvements.
President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) allocates more than $50 billion to EPA toward repairing the nation's essential water infrastructure, which helps communities access clean, safe and reliable drinking water, increase resilience, collect and treat wastewater to protect public health, clean up pollution and safeguard vital waterways. The grant marks the first significant distribution of water infrastructure funds thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. State allocations were previously announced.
"All communities need access to clean, reliable, safe water," said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. "Thanks to President Biden's leadership and the resources from the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are repairing aging water infrastructure, replacing lead service lines, cleaning up contaminants, and making our communities more resilient in the face of floods and climate impacts."
"President Biden has been clear—we cannot leave any community behind as we rebuild America's infrastructure with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law," said White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu. "Because of his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, nearly half of the additional SRF funding will now be grants or forgivable loans, making accessing these critical water resources easier for small, rural and disadvantaged communities."
"The historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is funding critical water infrastructure projects across New England, especially in places that have been historically underserved," said EPA Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "No one should be worried when they turn on their tap and ensuring clean drinking water and safe wastewater services to communities across the region is essential. We are proud to work with states, Tribes, and communities in making these unprecedented investments."
"These grants will support very important infrastructure improvements across Rhode Island and will help continue our work to make our waters cleaner and our communities healthier," said RIDEM Director Terry Gray. "We look forward to working with EPA, the RI Infrastructure Bank, and our municipal partners to upgrade our wastewater management systems, improve our storm water controls, and invest in resiliency measures across the State. We especially want to thank all the members of our Congressional delegation for making this happen. This big infusion of federal grant funds will provide huge benefits for our waters and our environment."
EPA's SRFs are part of President Biden's Justice40 initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40% of the benefits from certain federal programs flow to underserved communities. Furthermore, nearly half the funding available through the SRFs thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law must be grants or principal forgiveness loans that remove barriers to investing in essential water infrastructure in underserved communities across rural America and in urban centers.
In fiscal year 2022, the six New England states have received a total of $484,744,421 with nearly half of this funding available as grants or principal forgiveness loans that remove barriers to investing in essential water infrastructure in underserved communities across rural America and in urban centers. The fiscal year 2022 allocation is the first of five years of $43 billion in dedicated EPA SRF funding that states will receive through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. For more than 30 years, the SRFs have been the foundation of water infrastructure investments, providing low-cost financing for local projects across America. However, many vulnerable communities facing water challenges have not received their fair share of federal water infrastructure funding. Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, states have a unique opportunity to correct this disparity.
Funding announced today represents FY22 awards for states that have submitted and obtained EPA's approval of their plans for use of the funding. Capitalization grants will continue to be awarded, on a rolling state-by-state basis, as more states receive approval throughout FY22; states will also receive awards over the course of the next four years. As grants are awarded, the state SRF programs can begin to distribute the funds as grants and loans to communities across their state.
Planned projects in Rhode Island that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will fund include lead line replacement projects in Bristol and Providence, as well as PFAS treatment projects at the University of Rhode Island and the West Glocester Elementary School. A host of other projects are slated for funding in the state through this new increase in funding, which will significantly increase the ability of towns and cities to meet their infrastructure needs.
"Clean water infrastructure projects are critical to public health and the environment, but they can be daunting financial undertakings at the local level. The federal government must do its part to ensure financing is available for these strategic public investments," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed. "I helped include this critical water infrastructure financing provision in the law to protect the health and well-being of Rhode Islanders. This $66 million will advance wastewater treatment projects that will help protect water quality for years to come."
"Our bipartisan infrastructure law is set to significantly improve water quality in the Ocean State," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "This is the first installment of a historic federal investment in improving drinking water and wastewater systems that will help ensure all Rhode Islanders can safely drink the water from their tap."
"With this funding, we are moving closer to ensuring that every Rhode Islander has access to the safe, clean, and reliable drinking water they need and deserve," said Congressman Cicilline, RI-01. "No parent should have to worry about their child drinking unsafe water at home or at school. This first allocation is only a fraction of the funding Rhode Island will receive under the bipartisan infrastructure bill to bolster our water infrastructure. Even one family without safe drinking in unacceptable and this funding will help us make sure that no Rhode Islander needs to face that risk."
"I'm incredibly proud that Rhode Island's drinking water is among the cleanest in the nation – over 90% of our groundwater is suitable for drinking. With this new funding from the EPA, we can continue that legacy. By upgrading our existing water infrastructure, we will protect our clean tap water, ensure our wastewater is properly treated, and protect our state from devastating flooding," said Congressman Langevin, RI-02. "I'm thrilled that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is making these projects possible."
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law presents the largest ever funding opportunity for investing in water infrastructure. Find out more about Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs and other programs that help communities manage their water at www.epa.gov/infrastructure.