Tennessee officials on Friday announced a $500,000 loan for water system repairs in Oliver Springs.
The loan was announced by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner David Salyers. It’s a Clean Water State Revolving Fund, or SRF, planning and design loan. It’s meant to remediate water losses in the Oliver Springs water system in what is being described as a pilot project.
The loan consists of 100 percent principal forgiveness in the amount of $500,000 with a five-year term and a 0 percent interest rate, a press release said.
“We are pleased we can assist local communities with important infrastructure improvements,” Lee said in the press release. “This loan directly addresses a need and will improve quality of life.”
“This loan is an example of the state’s commitment to our smaller communities, and we are pleased to see Oliver Springs receive the assistance,” Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally said. “Water infrastructure is important, and this community will benefit in a significant way.”
“Water and wastewater infrastructure is a critical need for communities,” Salyers said. “The low-cost loan program is an excellent financial tool for helping ensure our water resources are preserved for future generations.”
Currently, the Town of Oliver Springs is experiencing significant water losses, the press release said.
“This award will assist the community in reducing significant water losses to its drinking water infrastructure,” the release said. “The town will develop and implement a plan to control future losses saving the town money, and conserving the resource. This pilot project is a partnership with TDEC to develop a protocol focused on a systematic approach to evaluate, isolate, and eliminate water loss issues. This study will be used to educate other communities facing similar issues on best practices to protect and maintain water systems.”
TDEC is exploring such pilot projects through the State Revolving Fund loan process as a way to promote community leadership and development of shared solutions to significant water infrastructure challenges, the press release said. SRF Director Leslie Gillespie-Marthaler hopes the pilot projects can become a model for others operating utilities in Tennessee, the press release said.
“TDEC is excited to promote the use of new technologies and solutions to a limited number of small and disadvantaged communities willing to document and demonstrate project benefits,” Gillespie-Marthaler said.
Those communities will receive principal forgiveness, in part, from their in-kind work monitoring project outcomes and sharing the information for the benefit of others.
“The effort will support TDEC’s mission to enhance the quality of life for citizens of Tennessee and to be stewards of the environment,” the press release said.
Through the State Revolving Fund Program, communities, utility districts, and water and wastewater authorities can obtain loans with lower interest rates than most can obtain through private financing. Interest rates for loans can vary from zero percent to market rate, based on each community’s economic index. Loans using EPA grant funds can also include a principal forgiveness component, the press release said.
Tennessee’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program has awarded more than $2 billion in low-interest loans since its inception in 1987. The state’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program has awarded more than $300 million in low-interest loans since its inception in 1996.
TDEC administers the State Revolving Fund Program in conjunction with the Tennessee Local Development Authority. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides grants to fund the program, and the state provides a 20 percent match. Loan repayments are returned to the program and are used to fund future SRF loans.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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