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EPA Announces $63 Million in Water Infrastructure Funds for Nebraska
Nebraska Ag Connection - 12/03/2021

Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Nebraska will receive $63,430,000 toward the State Revolving Fund (SRF) to create jobs, while upgrading America's aging water infrastructure and addressing key challenges like lead in drinking water and per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination. This 2022 allocation is the first of five years of nearly $44 billion in dedicated EPA SRF funding that states will receive through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

In a letter sent to Governor Pete Ricketts today, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan encouraged Nebraska to maximize the impact of water funding from the law -- an unprecedented nationwide total of $50 billion -- to address disproportionate environmental burdens in historically underserved communities across the state.

"With President Biden's leadership and congressional action, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has created a historic opportunity to correct longstanding environmental and economic injustices across America," said Administrator Regan. "As leaders, we must seize this moment. Billions of dollars are about to start flowing to states and it is critical that EPA partners with states, tribes, and territories to ensure the benefits of these investments are delivered in the most equitable way."

"In Region 7, half of our communities with a water or sewer utility have less than 425 people -- and many of these populations are shrinking," said Acting EPA Region 7 Administrator Edward H. Chu. "This historic investment will allow us to continue supporting the immediate needs of the aging water and wastewater systems in these and other underserved areas."

EPA will allocate $7.4 billion to states, tribes, and territories for 2022, with nearly half of this funding available as grants or principal forgiveness loans that remove barriers to investing in essential water infrastructure in underserved communities across rural America and in urban centers. For over 30 years, the SRFs have been the foundation of water infrastructure investments, providing low-cost financing for local projects across America. However, many vulnerable communities facing water challenges have not received their fair share of federal water infrastructure funding. Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, states have a unique opportunity to correct this disparity.

Regan recently completed a "Journey to Justice" tour across the American South where he heard from families and advocates about their struggles with exposure to water pollution in their communities. For children, exposure to lead can cause irreversible and life-long health effects, including decreasing IQ, focus, and academic achievement. At the same time, families that live near high levels of contaminants such as PFAS or "forever chemicals" are at risk to develop adverse health outcomes.

The implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law calls for strong partnership, and EPA stands ready to work with states to ensure that communities see the full benefits of this investment.


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