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Coastal Towns Get Money for Water Projects

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality announced today that the State Water Infrastructure Authority has approved more than $168.5 million in loans and grants that will help North Carolina local governments pay for 62 drinking water and wastewater projects, including several on the coast.

Projects approved include $1.7 million for Carolina Beach for a drinking water and $1.3 million for wastewater, $1.2 million for Swan Quarter’s sanitary district for wastewater-treatment facility rehab and $1 million for Edenton’s wastewater collection system inflow and infiltration problems.

“Reliable water infrastructure is vital to delivering the water quality, public health protection and economic growth our state depends on,” said DEQ Secretary Michael Regan. “The savings provided by these loans and grants allow these important projects to go forward.”

Requests for nearly $332 million for various projects were received in April. Funds for selected projects across the state were awarded through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, the Drinking Water State Reserve and the Wastewater State Reserve programs.

These awards mark the second of three rounds using funds available through the Connect NC bond, which increased assistance through the state reserve programs. The application period for the final round of funding will end on Sept. 29.

Water systems in North Carolina and nationwide are challenged by aging infrastructure that can date back a century or more. The costs of addressing these needs can be overwhelming, especially for smaller towns and cities, but the costs of not addressing them can be greater. Inadequate water infrastructure can lead to lost economic opportunity, threatened water quality, even more financial burden and continuing and unpredictable inconvenience to residents.

“The need for improvement, rehabilitation and replacement of water systems statewide is great,” said Kim Colson, director of DEQ’s water infrastructure division. “Without this funding, many communities could not even begin to start working on their infrastructure problems.”

The Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill estimates that the total 20-year infrastructure needs for the state are likely to be in the range of $10.8-$15 billion for drinking water systems and $7.4-$11.1 billion for wastewater systems.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.