Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau have announced that eleven communities have been approved to receive more than $203 million in low-interest loans for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements. The announcement represents the largest amount in State Revolving Fund Loans (SRF) granted in state history.
Included was Big Creek Utility District (Grundy, Sequatchie, and Marion Counties) for a drinking water improvements loan. Big Creek Utility District will receive $2.42 million for a project that includes a new 1 million-gallon capacity water storage tank, replacing three tanks; and for the replacement of water lines. The project will be funded with a 20-year, $1.93 million loan with an interest rate of 0 percent and $484,000 in principal forgiveness that will not have to be repaid.
“I am pleased to see local governments using this important program to help address critical drinking water and wastewater needs, making infrastructure improvements that will benefit the health of these communities and economic growth,” Haslam said.
The State Revolving Fund Loan Program provides low-interest loans that help communities, utility districts, and water and wastewater authorities finance projects that protect Tennessee’s ground and surface waters and public health. Loans are used to finance the planning, design and construction of water and wastewater facilities.
Through the SRF Program, communities, utility districts, and water and wastewater authorities can obtain loans with lower interest rates than most can obtain through private financing. Interest rates for loans can vary from zero percent to market rate based on each community’s economic index. Loans utilizing the 2010 EPA grant funds include more than 20 percent principal forgiveness for water and wastewater projects, 2011 EPA grant funds include 30 percent principal forgiveness for water and 10 percent principal forgiveness for wastewater projects, and 2012 EPA grant funds include 20 percent principal forgiveness for water and wastewater projects.
“The State Revolving Fund Loan Program is a community investment to help maintain environmental and public health, while keeping local communities moving forward as they prepare for future needs,” Martineau said.
The Department of Environment and Conservation administers the SRF Loan Program for the state of Tennessee in conjunction with the Tennessee Local Development Authority. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides grants to fund the program, and the state provides a 20 percent match. Loan repayments are returned to the program and are used to fund future SRF loans.
The funding order of projects is determined by the SRF Loan Program’s Priority Ranking Lists that rank potential projects according to the severity of their pollution and/or compliance problems or for the protection of public health.
Since its inception in 1987, Tennessee’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program has awarded nearly $1.5 billion in low-interest loans. Since its inception in 1996, Tennessee’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program has awarded more than $216 million in low-interest loans. Both programs combined award more than $80 million annually to Tennessee’s local governments for water and wastewater infrastructure projects.
Any local government interested in the SRF Loan Program should contact the State Revolving Fund Loan Program, L&C Tower, 8th Floor, 401 Church Street, Nashville, TN 37243, or call 615-532-0445. Additional information about the SRF Loan Program may be found online at www.tn.gov/environment/srf.