Massachusetts spending $51 million to support water infrastructure upgrades

February 7, 2024

Massachusetts will direct $51 million to support 14 wastewater and drinking water projects totaling $237 million. The funding comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

The Clean Water Trust — the commonwealth’s environmental infrastructure bank — announced the awards Jan. 17. The IIJA provided additional funding so long as a portion is distributed as grants, the trust said. State lawmakers approved the second allocation of ARPA funds for use on water projects.

“Massachusetts communities are planning upgrades to treatment works, sewer mains, and distribution systems that are critical for public health and resiliency,” Commissioner Bonnie Heiple of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) said in a release.

The commonwealth will spread the grants across 12 communities. The funds will provide loan forgiveness and are parts of larger low- or no-interest loans given to each project. 

Big-ticket items include wiping away $11.6 million in loans on a $70 million upgrade to a Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) in Fairhaven. That project includes upgrading existing secondary treatment systems to a Modified Ludzak-Ettinger (MLE) format and adding a tertiary denitrification filter system. Designed to address total nitrogen limits by October 2026, the project also calls for equipment, mechanical and electrical upgrades.   

The commonwealth will forgive $7.3 million on a $31.3 million project to upgrade Falmouth’s WWTF. The improved WWTF will address nitrogen impacts to the Great Pond and Green Pond watersheds. The upgrade will also accommodate future expansion for the wastewater collection system.

State officials will also forgive $5.9 million on a $29.5 million pump station project in New Bedford. The project calls for upgrading two pumping stations at the Shawmut Avenue and Howland Street facilities.

Massachusetts drinking water projects will get a boost, with the state granting nearly $4 million on a $10 million project for New Bedford’s Quittacas Water Treatment Plant. The funding will help upgrade the facility’s HVAC system, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and process areas to support the plant’s safety and functionality.

Communities qualifying as “disadvantaged” received additional forgiveness funds to ensure that those the greatest need are receiving support, state officials said. The commonwealth used a statewide affordability ranking system to determine which communities took priority.

The Trust works with MassDEP to support water infrastructure via low-interest loans and grants to cities, towns and water utilities using the Massachusetts State Revolving Funds (SRFs). The SRF programs are partnerships between Massachusetts and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finance water infrastructure projects across the commonwealth. To date, the Trust has loaned nearly $8.6 billion to improve and maintain water quality in the commonwealth.

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Photo by Ivan Bandura on Unsplash

Paul Stinson

Paul Stinson has more than 15 years of journalism experience, including a decade covering the legislative and regulatory affairs of Texas, South Africa, and Germany for an affiliate of Bloomberg, L.P. His experience includes covering voting rights and the sectors of environment, energy, labor, healthcare, and taxes. Stinson joined the team in October as a reporter for SPI’s news publications, which include Government Contracting Pipeline, Texas Government Insider, and the newly-launched Government Market News. He is also a Fulbright Scholar to Germany, and an Arthur F. Burns Fellow. He holds a master’s in journalism from Indiana University.   

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