Stimulus: environment

Minnesotans can expect to see $107 million go into improving the state’s water systems.

In the recently-passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, $6.4 billion is targeted to upgrade and rebuild the nationâÄôs wastewater treatment systems and drinking water infrastructure. Minnesotans can expect to see $107 million of that to flow into the Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund and the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund âÄî the agencies that administer the stateâÄôs water systems. Both funds provide loans for communities to upgrade or replace water infrastructure at interest rates below the market standard, Kirsten Morell , spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development , said. The Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund, which provides loans to communities to improve wastewater infrastructure, will receive $72 million, and the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund, which provides loans to improve drinking water infrastructure, will get $35 million . John Schnickel , coordinator of the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund at the Minnesota Department of Health , said many communities water systems are in need of repair or replacement, but doing so can be a costly investment. âÄúThe time has come to replace a lot of this infrastructure,âÄù Schnickel said. âÄúLots of communities started their water systems 75 or 100 years ago, and now itâÄôs beyond its useful life.âÄù Schnickel said water standards have become stricter over time, and often communities find themselves with water systems that donâÄôt meet new regulations and need to be upgraded. The loans provided by the two funds help communities finance these expensive projects in an economical way that gives communities plenty of time to pay back the loan, he said. The stimulus money will be flowing directly into the two water improvement loan funds, something Schnickel said is good because the programs are well-established and those responsible for the funds will know how to best use the stimulus money. âÄúWeâÄôve got a program weâÄôve been running for 12 years, weâÄôve got a track record,âÄù he said. âÄúThereâÄôs some real confidence in what we do and how we do it.âÄù