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State awards record funding for drinking water system loans

Washington state's Public Works Board approved 27 public water systems throughout Washington to share in approximately $72.5 million in low-interest loans this fall to help improve their facilities.

This is the largest amount of money awarded in a single year by the Washington State Department of Health's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program. The state-run, federally funded program, which began in 1997, provides low-interest loans to help water systems address public health problems and compliance issues.

The projects are in 16 Washington counties, including Yakima County.

The Lombard Loop Water Association in Wapato will receive $290,000 in loans for an arsenic compliance project.

"This is good for people's health, saves money and creates jobs, which is precisely what we envisioned for this program," said Washington Governor Chris Gregoire. "It makes these public health projects affordable for these communities. Equally important, it puts people to work."

Washington State Secretary of Health Mary Selecky added, "In hard economic times like this, we especially appreciate being able to direct more dollars to communities around the state. This lets us to do more to help water systems fix problems and make sure people have safe water to drink."

The federal government added new requirements to the loan program this year, similar to those of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In addition, the state was required to devote about 10 percent of the money to 'green' projects that improve water use efficiency or energy efficiency. All borrowers must comply with federal prevailing wage requirements.

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