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EPA honors two Arizona water projects for improving water quality, protecting public health

Release Date: 12/05/2006
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415/947-4248, chavez.wendy@epa.gov

(San Francisco, Calif. -- 12/5/2006) At a ceremony today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency honored the City of Bullhead City and the Flowing Wells Irrigation District with the 2006 Clean Water and Drinking Water Project of the Year awards for their use of state revolving funds to improve water quality and protect public health.

“Since the inception of the clean water and drinking water state revolving funds, borrowers have used these funds to finance innovative projects that increase wastewater and drinking water infrastructure nationwide,” said Alexis Strauss, the director of the EPA’s Water Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “These projects result in far-reaching environmental benefits, safer drinking water, and improve local economies.”

The EPA awarded its Clean Water State Revolving Fund Pisces Award to the City of Bullhead City, who used a $31 million loan to transition off septic tanks and onto a sewer system. The transition protects groundwater and the Colorado River from potential contamination – critical to California and Mexico who use water from the river. Golf courses and parks also use reclaimed water from the system.

Flowing Wells Irrigation District received the EPA’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Aquarius Award after it was one of the state’s first communities to address the new federal arsenic rule. Arsenic occurs naturally in soil and groundwater in Arizona. The district used a $996,600 drinking water state revolving loan to build an arsenic treatment plant, and met the lower arsenic level before the rule went into effect in January 2006.

“The City Bullhead City and Flowing Wells Irrigation District are both great examples of successful water quality projects,” said Water Infrastructure and Finance Authority Chairman Steve Owens, who also serves as director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. “Both communities utilized WIFA’s low-interest funds to finance projects that improved water quality and protected public health. They are real leaders”

The state revolving fund program provides flexible financing for states to address their most critical wastewater and drinking water infrastructure needs. The Clean Water Pisces Award recognizes the most innovative projects that effectively use state revolving funds to improve water quality, comply with the Clean Water Act and show no financial problems with the project. The Drinking Water Aquarius Award is given to a project that protects public health, complies with the Safe Drinking Water Act, proves no financial threat to the project, and ranks high on a public health benefits priority list.

Arizona’s wastewater and drinking water needs continue to exceed federal funding levels. In 2006, the Water and Infrastructure and Finance Authority of Arizona leveraged federal funds to more than triple the available funds in the state revolving fund programs.

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