Washington communities to receive $309 million in clean water funding

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OLYMPIA  – 

New clean water projects and ongoing infrastructure investments are at the heart of the Department of Ecology’s latest round of grants and loans. This year, $309 million will support 136 projects, including everything from stream restoration on the Touchet River near Prescott to engineered wetlands providing stormwater treatment in Ferndale.

Nearly 90% of the funding Ecology’s water quality program receives is passed through to local communities through the Water Quality Combined Funding program. Washington’s clean water funding is a mix of state and federal funds dedicated toward improving and protecting water quality. This includes approximately $40 million from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure law to assist small, financially disadvantaged communities and addressing emerging contaminants.

“Our top priority is to support communities. Across Washington, we are using innovative ideas to help put money to work faster and with greater benefits,” said Vince McGowan, Water Quality program manager. “We are excited to support clean water pilot projects that are already proving successful and to continue trying new approaches.”

This year’s project list includes new approaches to Ecology’s clean water funding work. To better support small communities and their infrastructure needs, Ecology is starting a pilot process where communities can apply for wastewater funding outside of the annual funding cycle. Through off-cycle planning, Ecology will work with communities or utilities that have an urgent need for funding wastewater planning projects. This could include post-emergency recovery efforts from natural disasters or projects that have received funding from other sources but still need to meet some of Ecology’s prerequisites. For the first project under the pilot, Ecology is providing $60,000 to help the Town of Metaline Falls update their general sewer plan, with specific emphasis on identifying and replacing aging infrastructure to prevent future emergencies. This investment will help the community make necessary progress on wastewater and stormwater infrastructure improvements and better protect the Pend Oreille River.  

Another new approach for the clean water funding list for this year is incorporating an Environmental Justice Assessment for grant or loan projects over $12 million dollars, as required under Washington’s HEAL Act. Six wastewater-related projects require environmental justice assessments this year. Ecology will finish the assessments for these projects in the coming months, prior to finalizing the project’s funding agreement.

Clean water projects by category

With 136 projects, cleaner water is on the way to many watersheds across the state. The full list of funded projects is available in an interactive map and in the final offer list publication.

Wastewater

Ecology will fund 57 wastewater projects, for a total of $255 million in grant and loan offers. Wastewater projects range from supporting designs for critical treatment plan updates in Toppenish with $1.5 million, to a $932,000 grant for the City of Mattawa to construct a new gravity sewer main line.

Ecology is funding 28 projects in communities eligible for financial hardship consideration. These are projects with 25,000 people or fewer in the community and where, without financial support, the project could lead to sewer fees costing more than 2% of median household income for the area. Given the critical service that wastewater treatment facilities provide, Ecology prioritizes supporting the planning, design, and construction of these facilities, particularly in areas where these investments would create a financial burden for residents.

Nonpoint and onsite sewage systems

Ecology is offering $17 million in funding for 39 projects that address nonpoint pollution, including four awards that support onsite sewage system programs and projects. This includes projects such as the Savvy Septic Program in Snohomish County. Ecology is offering the county a $500,000 grant to help residents repair and maintain their onsite sewage systems.

Ecology is also providing ongoing support for the Spokane Conservation District’s Hangman Creek Riparian Buffer Incentive Program. With $1 million in grant funding from Ecology, the Conservation District will continue to provide rental rates with long-term contracts for agricultural riparian land taken out of production. This program complements the existing available programs such as the Spokane Conservation District Commodity Buffer Program and Farmed Smart Certification Program. Since its start in 2022, the program has established 170 acres of riparian buffer. Learn more about our work in Hangman Creek.

Stormwater

For stormwater-related projects, Ecology is offering $37.5 million for 41 projects. Proposed work includes plans, designs, and construction to manage and reduce stormwater pollution. The Port of Everett is receiving a $255,000 grant to improve water quality in the East Waterway of Port Gardner Bay with the installation of a modular wetland linear system. This system can reduce the amount of copper, zinc, phosphorus, oils and other pollutants that make it into the water.

The City of Vancouver will receive $379,306 to support their Evergreen High School stormwater improvement design project. The grant will help fund stormwater retrofit designs to bring stormwater treatment to more than nine acres of parking lots currently without treatment. The city plans to address zinc, copper, 6PPD-quinone, bacteria and other pollutants with these improvements.

In January of this year, Ecology shared a draft list of projects to fund. Due to changes in loan funding availability, the final offer list is reduced from $386 to $309 million. At the same time, due to some entities declining Ecology’s funding and other adjustments, Ecology can now support 136 priority projects instead of the 134 originally planned.

Learn more

Ecology accepts clean water project applications every August through October. To learn more about the application process, visit Ecology’s clean water funding webpage.

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