Thursday, February 18, 2010

EPA, State of Colorado recognize Recovery Act benefits at Brighton Drinking Water facility

On one-year anniversary of President Obama’s signing in Denver, Recovery Act delivering $62 M for critical water infrastructure, jobs in Colorado

At a ceremony today at the City of Brighton’s Greensand Drinking Water Facility, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Colorado recognized 34 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) projects that are improving water infrastructure and supporting jobs across the state. During the event, the City of Brighton broke ground on the installation of a state-of-the-art ultraviolet (UV) disinfection system that will provide safe drinking water for 34,000 residents. The system is expected to be operational by May, 2010.

The Recovery Act is providing more than $62 million for 34 wastewater and drinking water projects in Colorado communities through Clean Water and Drinking Water Revolving Loan funds administered by EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Many of these loans include substantial loan forgiveness provisions that will ease future financial burdens on communities.

"The Recovery Act is not only supporting jobs for Coloradans right now,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator, Carol Rushin, “it is also helping communities create long-term assets that will provide future generations with clean water in our streams and at the tap."

The State of Colorado has worked diligently to award 100 percent of the Clean Water and Drinking Water Recovery Act loan funds to communities. To date, more than $15 million has been spent by Colorado communities on these water infrastructure projects, many of which will be completed during the upcoming spring and summer construction season. The net impact of these projects will contribute to the creation and retention of an estimated 500 to 1,000 jobs. These construction projects are also providing economic benefits associated with increased demand for domestic raw materials, goods and services, and engineering and treatment technologies.

Clean water is a basic requirement for human health and economic growth, and Colorado’s water utilities face a number of challenges associated with upgrading systems that are, in some cases, decades old. The Recovery Act is making a significant impact by addressing high-priority needs in communities. A full list of projects is provided below.

"The staff at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was extremely diligent about identifying priority water projects, reviewing engineering designs, and working closely with the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority and the Department of Local Affairs to get these dollars out the door and into the economy," said Martha Rudolph, the department's executive director. "Many of these projects have been on our list of identified projects for years and have significant infrastructure needs for the protection of public health and the environment. Without Recovery Act funding and loan forgiveness, the projects would not have been possible. These projects are moving forward quickly and will benefit tens of thousands of Coloradans."

Many of these projects feature “green” measures that are improving the efficiency of water systems, and saving energy, money and water. Collectively, these measures will save more than 50 million gallons of Colorado’s most precious resource annually.

Sustainable measures taken through drinking water projects will deliver $7.3 million in savings over the next 20 years through increased energy efficiency, reduced operating costs, restored billing revenue, and avoided maintenance costs. In addition, “green” clean water projects totaling $7.9 million will tap more than one million kilowatt hours per year of wind, solar and hydroelectric energy and will help reduce demand on water treatment facilities through water re-use, and water and energy conservation.

The City of Brighton has received $1,044,000 to install a UV disinfection system that will provide 34,000 Brighton residents with long-term, improved protection from bacteria, pathogens and other drinking water contaminants. Ultraviolet disinfection uses light to destroy pathogens, and their ability to reproduce, without treatment chemicals or large, expensive infrastructure. In an arid state such as Colorado, it is essential that water systems can fully utilize sources with variable water quality to provide safe and affordable drinking water to the public.

“We look forward to the Greensand plant beginning operations this spring with the improved water treatment system in place,” said Brighton Mayor Dick McLean. “Looking back about 20 years ago we were compelled to recommend other drinking sources for pregnant women and children under the age of one because of our water quality. Today, we have excellent and safe water in our distribution system. The funding and jobs stimulus provided by the Recovery Act are leveraging upgrades which will even further reduce the risk of harmful microorganisms and other contaminants to our residents.”

EPA has provided nearly $100 million to Colorado under the Recovery Act, which was signed by President Obama in Denver on February 17, 2009. These resources are funding projects to improve drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, advance cleanup at contaminated sites and leaking underground storage tanks, and retrofit diesel engines with clean diesel technologies across the state.

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