Local leaders discussed water infrastructure needs and challenges in competing for State Revolving Funds
May 11, 2022
LENEXA, KAN. (MAY 11, 2022) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials and state environmental commissioners held a Mississippi River Corridor Summit on Water Infrastructure Funding for drinking water and clean water with Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI) mayors. In 2022, EPA is providing nearly $1 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to the 10 Mississippi River Corridor states from Minnesota to Louisiana.
The federal, state, and local leaders participating in the Summit at the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center in East Alton, Illinois, strategized ways to overcome access challenges that may stand in the way of the cities equitably competing for the funding. For those who were unable to join the event live from the more than 100 cities, 10 states, and four EPA regions that abut the Mississippi River, a recording of the Summit is available on ZoomGov
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s investment in the water sector is nothing short of transformational. The Law mandates that 49% of the $43 billion provided through Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRFs) be distributed as grants and forgivable loans to overburdened communities or communities that meet the state’s affordability criteria or certain project types. SRFs are a long-standing partnership between EPA, states, tribes, territories, and local communities.
Today’s Summit is connecting EPA and the Mississippi River Corridor states, cities and towns to deliver water infrastructure investments for the health, equity, and resilience of communities. EPA is committed to maximizing the impact of these funds in addressing urgent water challenges. This great American waterway courses along and through 10 states: Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. For details on how much funding each state has been allotted this year, visit EPA’s interactive 2022 SRF dashboard.
EPA senior leaders, state environmental commissioners, and MRCTI mayors are joining the Summit in person and virtually to ensure equitable distribution of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding.
- Senior Advisor on Infrastructure Implementation to the EPA Administrator Zealan Hoover
- EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore
- EPA Region 7 Water Division Director Jeff Robichaud
- Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director John J. Kim
- Missouri Department of Natural Resources Deputy Director Hannah Humphrey
- Honorable Robert Eastern III, Mayor of East St. Louis, Illinois
- Honorable David Goins, Mayor of Alton, Illinois
- Honorable Michael Morrow, Mayor of Grafton, Illinois
- Honorable Philip Stang, Mayor of Kimmswick, Missouri
- President of Lewis and Clark Community College Dr. Ken Trzaska
- Executive Director of National Great Rivers Research and Education Center Dr. Gary Rolfe
“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to protecting public health and the environment and ensuring that federal investments resulting from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law reach communities that are in greatest need, like those along the Mississippi River,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. “Our priority now is engaging with mayors and the states directly through forums like today’s Mississippi River Corridor Summit. We know that, historically, communities along the river, including the many small rural communities, have been on the outside looking in when it comes to federal investment. And we aim to change that!”
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will invest more than $75 billion in the Mississippi Corridor over the next five years, including billions of dollars specifically focused on water infrastructure and economic development,” said Senior Advisor on Infrastructure Implementation to the EPA Administrator Zealan Hoover. “President Biden has directed us to move quickly to ensure this funding reaches the communities of greatest need, support good-paying union jobs, and strengthen local economies.”
“Today’s discussions underscored the power of partnership when it comes to revitalizing our nation’s water infrastructure,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. “We must work together and listen to the people in our communities, especially those who are hurting most, in order to achieve real change.”
“We applaud the U.S. EPA in their efforts to partner with communities along the Mississippi River through the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI) for better implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package,” said Honorable Robert Eastern III, Mayor of East St. Louis, Illinois, and MRCTI Illinois State Chair. “Direct outreach to cities like mine who are facing challenges with economic growth, repetitive loss from disasters, and historic overlook from past national funding vehicles can create historic change for our impacted and deteriorating water infrastructure. Specifically, the first-time availability of forgiveness of State Revolving Loan Funds can provide new opportunities for disadvantaged cities to finally achieve water security for decades to come.”
“Our goal going into this Summit was for EPA and the states to better understand the needs of mayors of the many overburdened communities along the Mississippi River, so we can provide the technical assistance they need to equitably compete for this funding,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Meg McCollister. “MRCTI mayors are clear that we can best support them by providing timely information and technical assistance on how the State Revolving Fund is implemented in their states. In EPA Region 7, we are committed to working with Iowa and Missouri state environmental departments to schedule follow-up meetings with their mayors to provide detailed technical assistance and contact lists, so the mayors and their public works staff know whom to contact.”
“Drinking water and sewer infrastructure have a major impact on every community’s health, economy, and overall well-being, but are some of our local governments’ most expensive assets. Managing these assets successfully requires continual financial investment, which presents a significant affordability challenge,” said Dru Buntin, director, Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “The State Revolving Fund has been an important source of low-cost financing for Missouri communities for decades, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will allow these state programs to offer more funding for local infrastructure with less ratepayer impact.”
“The Mississippi River corridor summit is an exciting partnership that will help prioritize the needs of overburdened communities and provide critical infrastructure support,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman. “Working with the states and mayors to identify these areas will help ensure that their citizens gain access to safe and clean water and help them become more resilient and healthy.”
“With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA is prioritizing safe drinking water for communities in the Mississippi area,” said EPA Region 6 Administrator Dr. Earthea Nance. “We are thrilled with the opportunity to be working with other Regions and local officials from the Mississippi area to distribute funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Forty percent of the funds under Justice 40 are to be distributed to disadvantaged communities, with our states managing the funds. Our federal partners from across the nation and local officials in the Mississippi area will strive for improvement in drinking water infrastructure. This monumental investment allows for EPA to address communities who have faced environmental challenges for decades and to continue EPA’s commitment on addressing water quality concerns, wastewater upgrades, and environmental justice issues across the nation.”
“Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will provide significant benefits to Illinois, especially to our small and disadvantaged communities that have limited resources to meet essential wastewater and drinking water infrastructure needs,” said Illinois EPA Director John J. Kim. “We welcome this opportunity to work with our federal partners and meet with local officials, so we can better address the challenges these communities face and provide the necessary resources to get the funding where it is needed most.”
What They’re Saying
Senator Dick Durbin (Illinois): “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will make a significant impact in Illinois, particularly our water and wastewater systems. And the best way to use that federal funding is to reach out to local leaders and work alongside them to address the real needs of Mississippi River communities. Today’s meeting between the U.S. EPA and Illinois’ local leaders will bring us one step closer to clean, safer water sources for every Illinoisan.”
Senator Tammy Duckworth (Illinois): “There has been a historic lack of investment in our nation’s water infrastructure – especially in low-income communities and communities of color – but my Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are changing that. As these initiatives continue making transformative investments to clean up our water and create good-paying local jobs across the country, I’m glad the Biden administration is ensuring that voices from communities most impacted are involved in the decision-making process. Together, we must break down barriers for funding to ensure that every American has access to clean water, no matter their ZIP code, the color of their skin, or the size of their wallet.”
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Preston D. Cole: “The historic investment in our water infrastructure being made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help to address significant challenges facing the people of Wisconsin. Not only will the funding help communities across the state upgrade their aging drinking and wastewater facilities, but it will provide relief to those that are struggling with lead pipes and PFAS contamination. We stand committed to making progress possible, including in rural and underserved communities, and look forward to this opportunity to further Wisconsin’s goal of providing clean water for all.”
President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law on Nov. 15, 2021. This is a big and bold investment in our nation’s infrastructure, including a historic $60 billion investment in key programs and initiatives implemented by EPA to build safer, healthier, and cleaner communities. This critical funding means that more Superfund sites will be cleaned up faster; blighted and polluted sites across America will be redeveloped to contribute to local economies once again; the nation’s school bus fleet will be made cleaner; and people will be put to work revitalizing aging water infrastructure in communities throughout the country.
In December 2021, EPA announced estimated State Revolving Fund allotments to states, tribes, and territories for 2022 through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This funding, provided through EPA’s SRF programs, will create jobs while upgrading America’s aging water infrastructure and addressing key challenges like lead in drinking water and PFAS contamination. For decades, SRFs have been the foundation of water infrastructure investments, providing low-cost financing for local projects across America. EPA, states, tribes and territories have successfully worked together to invest over $200 billion in SRF funds since 1988.
The Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative is a nonprofit organization that promotes economic and environmental security and stability along the Mississippi River Corridor. Its members are mayors of more than 100 communities along the Mississippi River, from Minnesota and Wisconsin to Louisiana. There are 124 Mississippi River main stem cities and towns. These riparian population centers are soundly river-centric. MRCTI gives a common voice to those who depend most upon the river, and by virtue of doing so, spans political and economic interests.
In September 2021, EPA and MRCTI announced a landmark Memorandum of Understanding that formalizes their local-federal partnership to tackle plastic pollution in the Mississippi River through community-driven efforts. Learn more at: www.mrcti.org.
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