WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced more than $2 million in federal awards to improve water systems in Portage County. The funds will be used to ensure necessary investments are made in water and wastewater infrastructure to deliver safe drinking water and protect the environment in rural areas.
"All Ohioans deserve access to clean water, but too many communities are struggling to afford costly, but necessary, upgrades to sewer systems," Brown said. "By helping communities upgrade outdated water and sewer systems, we can attract new businesses to our state and ensure Ohioans pay less for their water and sewer bills."
The funding, which will be distributed as a $1,505,000 grant and a $577,000 loan, was created through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and will be administered by USDA Rural Development's Water and Environmental Program. Water lines and treatment plants require maintenance and expansion to meet rising demand. Treating water is a vital public health requirement that the USDA grants will help communities fulfill. Data from the Environmental Protection Agency indicates that a major water line breaks, on average, every two minutes.
Studies indicate that for every $1 billion invested in infrastructure projects, between 35,000 and 50,000 jobs are created. Beyond job creation, investment in water and sewer infrastructure meets public health and safety needs and helps communities attract new businesses and residents.
Senator Brown, along with Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH), authored the Clean Water Affordability Act in April 2009. The legislation updates the EPA clean water affordability policy to provide for a full and accurate representation of the financial impacts clean water investment programs place on communities struggling to meet federal regulations for improving water infrastructure.