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Franklin County to Improve Wastewater Treatment, Reduce Nutrients with Ohio EPA Funds
Franklin County will begin design work – the pre-construction phase – this year in an upgrade of the Darbydale wastewater treatment plant to reduce nutrient discharges and improve water quality in Big Darby Creek, thanks to a zero-interest loan from Ohio EPA.
When complete, the upgraded wastewater treatment plant will provide improved treatment, disinfection and solids handling for the wastewater it receives. Included will be future flows from the Pleasant Acres Mobile Home Park and the Oak Hills Mobile Home Park, following their connection to the Darbydale system. Retirement of the existing, inadequate wastewater treatment plants at the mobile home parks, along with their discharges to Big Darby Creek, will improve water quality in this exceptional stream, as will the reduction in phosphorus released from the Darbydale plant due to the proposed treatment improvements.
This loan comes from the $100 million in zero-interest loans Ohio EPA is offering this year as a special subset of its traditional loan program. These zero percent loans are intended to help wastewater systems reduce the levels of phosphorus and other pollutants they discharge that can contribute to harmful algal blooms (HABs). Preference is given to public wastewater treatment plants in the Lake Erie watershed or a watershed where Ohio EPA has identified that phosphorus is excessive.
Created in 1989, the Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) provides below-market interest rate loans for communities to improve their wastewater treatment systems. The zero percent interest rate on the $654,000 loan will save Franklin County $95,000 compared to a conventional, market-rate loan.
Besides improvements to publicly owned treatment works, WPCLF loans have been provided for agricultural best management practices, home sewage system improvements, landfill closures and water quality-based storm water projects. The WPCLF provides technical assistance to public wastewater systems in a variety of areas from the planning, design and construction of improvements to enhancing the technical, managerial and financial capacity of these systems. WPCLF loans also make possible the restoration and protection of some of Ohio’s highest quality water bodies through the fund’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program.
Ohio EPA’s revolving loan funds are partially supported by federal grants and designed to last indefinitely through repayment of loans and investments in bonds. The loan program is managed by Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance, with assistance from the Ohio Water Development Authority. Ohio EPA is responsible for program development and implementation, individual project coordination, and environmental and other technical reviews/approvals of projects seeking funds. The Ohio Water Development Authority provides financial management of the fund.
More information about the WPCLF is available at: epa.ohio.gov/defa/EnvironmentalandFinancialAssistance.aspx.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. Since then, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling.