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Toledo to Improve Drinking Water System with Ohio EPA Funds
Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler observed Earth Day in Toledo today, joining Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson to announce upgrades at the city’s drinking water treatment plant designed to improve the ability to remove harmful algal blooms (HABs).
Two interest-free loans from Ohio EPA are financing the projects. Created in 1998, the Water Supply Revolving Loan Account (WSRLA) provides below-market interest rate loans for compliance-related improvements for community water systems and non-profit, non- community public water systems
“We are pleased to be able to provide the city affordable funding for important work that, when complete, will immediately improve the city’s drinking water treatment system,” Director Butler said. “Ohio EPA financing also will provide valuable research toward long-term treatment strategies that will help Toledo and other communities avoid issues with toxins created by HABs in their drinking water.
“Clean drinking water is essential and we need to take care of Earth’s resources in order to take care of ourselves. Today, we celebrate Earth Day and our commitment to protect Lake Erie and the resources it provides for all.”
The larger of the two loans, at $5.14 million, will fund the construction of powdered activated carbon storage silos at the Collins Park treatment plant and low-service pump station, and upgrades to the potassium permanganate and activated carbon feed systems. These are critical water treatment technologies that will allow the city to better remove toxins produced by HABs starting this year.
The smaller loan, for $1.457 million, will fund a three-part project comprised of an in- depth evaluation of long-term HAB treatment alternatives to identify preferred treatment process technology; formation of an independent blue-ribbon panel to review Toledo’s water treatment needs; and conversion of a conventional filter at the treatment plant to a new granular activated carbon filter as a part of a pilot study on removal efficiency of algal toxins. This research is important in Toledo and will help other communities optimize treatment.
In August 2014, Ohio EPA announced that it would make available $150 million in no- interest loans for improvements to local drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities. Of that total, $50 million in zero-interest loans is offered to drinking water plants for upgrades and alternative or back-up water sources to address HABs. Preference is given to water systems in the Lake Erie watershed and those that have experienced an algal bloom or a detection of toxins. Qualifying projects include components that treat for toxins produced by harmful algal blooms, as well as projects that implement avoidance strategies such as interconnections with other water supplies, new elevated storage facilities and installation of alternative sources of water.
The zero interest rate on the loans will save Toledo an estimated $2 million that can be invested elsewhere in Toledo, compared to a conventional market-rate loan.
Projects eligible for WSRLA funding include design and construction loans for new, replaced, rehabilitated, upgraded or expanded water treatment plants and their components. In addition, the WSRLA can provide technical assistance to public drinking water 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.
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 WSRLA is managed jointly by Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance and Division of Drinking and Ground Waters, 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 WSRLA 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.