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State opens applications for water infrastructure loans with record funding

Wastewater treatment plants are eligible to receive loans from the state's Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
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Wastewater treatment plants are eligible to receive loans from the state's Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

An influx of federal funding means more communities across Michigan will be eligible for water infrastructure loans in the coming years.

The “state revolving fund” offers low-interest loans for municipalities to upgrade drinking water or wastewater systems. The state typically gives out a few hundred million in loans - but federal dollars will double available funds, bringing it closer to a billion dollars.

Eric Pocan is a unit supervisor with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. He said the funding boost reduces the cost for residents and helps improve water quality across the state.

“With the condition of the infrastructure in the state, it needs to be upgraded," Pocan said. "If you just put a band aid on it, it's gonna get worse. If you can come into the program and get something done now, in the long run, it’s going to save communities money.”

Poor water infrastructure poses a threat to public health, environmental quality, and economic activity. And in the face of a warming planet, resilient infrastructure is even more important to mitigate climate-related risks.

Loans for the 2022 fiscal year have just been awarded, and a draft list of loan recipients for the 2023 fiscal year will be released in next month.

Municipalities must submit an “intent to apply” or ITA by November 1. This is for projects that will be awarded in the 2024 fiscal year. Applicants can then meet with state officials to refine and develop a proposal.

For more information about state revolving funds, including deadlines and documents, visit EGLE's website.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.