Local officials celebrate millions coming to Georgia for clean water, infrastructure

In February, officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that more than $125 million is coming to Georgia to go toward drinking water and clean water infrastructure upgrades – money that, according to local elected officials, could benefit DeKalb County.

The funding is part of more than $50 billion in investments in water infrastructure upgrades from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – the largest such investment in American history, according to EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.

“With $50 billion, the largest investment in water infrastructure in our nation’s history, EPA will enable communities across the nation to ensure safer drinking water for their residents and rebuild vital clean water infrastructure to protect public health for decades to come,” said Regan.

The EPA’s website states that approximately half of this funding will be available as grants or principal forgiveness loans, in an effort for funds to reach underserved communities most in need of investments in water infrastructure.

Sen. Jon Ossoff said some funds will go toward water infrastructure upgrades to remove lead pipes that carry drinking water and “keep families safe and healthy.”

According to the EPA’s website, many cities and towns nationwide have aging water infrastructure that includes old, broken or lead pipes carrying drinking water and wastewater treatment plants in need of major upgrades. Other places struggle to maintain adequate stormwater infrastructure to effectively manage flood impacts from climate change and others need to upgrade their water treatment to address contaminants, states the website.

Rep. Hank Johnson and Rep. Nikema Williams, both of whom represent DeKalb County in the U.S. House of Representatives, said the funding is critically needed for multiple reasons.

“Access to safe, clean drinking water is a right all Americans expect and deserve,” said Johnson. “This announcement is a giant step forward addressing toxic lead pipes, improving our wastewater and sanitation infrastructure, and removing PFAS contamination or ‘forever chemicals’ in our drinking water.”

“With a focus on water infrastructure, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is an investment in our communities’ wellbeing and a beacon of hope for marginalized areas long neglected,” said Williams. “This historic funding is critical for communities that have been forced to use intentionally underfunded water infrastructure. Clean water is a right for all—no matter your zip code and no matter your bank account.”

The funding EPA announced for Georgia is part of a $5.8 billion investment through the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRF), one of EPA’s signature water investment programs, stated officials. “This multi-billion-dollar investment will fund state-run, low-interest loan programs to address key challenges, with $2.6 billion going to the Clean Water SRF for wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and $3.2 billion going to the Drinking Water SRF for drinking water infrastructure nationwide,” said EPA officials.

For more information, visit epa.gov.

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