Washington state to invest $309 million in clean water projects

(UI) — Washington communities are set to receive $309 million in funding for clean water projects and infrastructure improvements. The Department of Ecology’s latest grants and loans will support 136 projects, ranging from stream restoration on the Touchet River near Prescott to engineered wetlands for stormwater treatment in Ferndale.

Nearly 90% of the funds from Ecology’s water quality program are allocated to local communities through the Water Quality Combined Funding program. This funding includes around $40 million from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law aimed at assisting small, financially disadvantaged communities and addressing emerging contaminants.

“Our priority is to support communities across Washington with innovative ideas that bring faster and greater benefits,” said Vince McGowan, Water Quality program manager. “We’re excited to fund clean water pilot projects that are already proving successful and to try new approaches.”

This year introduces a pilot process allowing small communities to apply for wastewater funding outside the annual cycle. This off-cycle planning will help communities with urgent needs, such as post-emergency recovery efforts or projects requiring additional funding to meet Ecology’s prerequisites. The first pilot project allocates $60,000 to the Town of Metaline Falls for updating their general sewer plan, focusing on aging infrastructure to prevent future emergencies.

Another new initiative is the incorporation of an Environmental Justice Assessment for grant or loan projects over $12 million, as mandated by Washington's HEAL Act. Six wastewater-related projects will undergo these assessments before finalizing their funding agreements.

Clean Water Projects by Category

  • Wastewater: Ecology will fund 57 wastewater projects totaling $255 million. Projects include critical treatment plant updates in Toppenish with $1.5 million and a new gravity sewer main line in Mattawa with a $932,000 grant. 28 projects are in communities eligible for financial hardship consideration, ensuring essential wastewater services without imposing financial burdens on residents.
  • Nonpoint and Onsite Sewage Systems: $17 million will support 39 projects addressing nonpoint pollution, including the Savvy Septic Program in Snohomish County with a $500,000 grant for sewage system repairs. Ongoing support will also be provided for the Spokane Conservation District’s Hangman Creek Riparian Buffer Incentive Program, receiving $1 million in grant funding.
  • Stormwater: $37.5 million will fund 41 stormwater-related projects, including plans, designs, and construction to manage and reduce stormwater pollution. Notable projects include a $255,000 grant to the Port of Everett for a modular wetland system and $379,306 to Vancouver for stormwater improvements at Evergreen High School.

Initially, a draft list of projects totaling $386 million was shared in January, but due to changes in loan funding availability, the final offer was reduced to $309 million. However, this adjustment allowed funding for 136 priority projects instead of the 134 originally planned.

For more information, Ecology accepts clean water project applications every August through October.

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