The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provided a record amount of financing for upgrades to the state’s drinking water infrastructure in 2017.
The state EPA granted more than $936 million in loans to different communities, which used the money to improve the water quality of lakes and rivers, among other sources. It issued the loans as it seeks to enforce stricter rules for wastewater treatment and other facilities.
A majority of the almost $1 billion funding assistance went to wastewater infrastructure upgrades, amounting to $861 million. These developments covered surface waters going into the Lake Erie and the Ohio River, according to Ashton Tucker Water Treatment. The next biggest amount went to the separation of combined sewer overflows in the Lake Erie watershed, which received nearly $260 million.
The state EPA said that the multimillion loans for 2017 represented the biggest figure so far in its 28-year history of offering revolving loans. It has increased the allotted financing for surface water improvements in the state to more than $1.7 billion.
Households should expect higher water bills by $1 every month in the near future, as the state EPA wants to broaden regulations for wastewater plants. It plans to use revenue collected from the rate hike to control the facilities’ production of phosphorus below one milligram per liter.
The agency seeks an approved bill for the new limit this year. This rule currently applies to the Lake Erie Basin. The Ohio Environment Water Association, however, believes that extending this rule to the entire state will provide no benefits. Jamie Gellner, the group’s president, said that the agency should consider other solutions instead of a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
Despite some disagreements on Ohio’s wastewater rules, the state’s planned financing will not just improve surface water quality. It will also drum up business for enterprises such as water equipment suppliers.