PROVIDENCE, RI – Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee who helped make $5 billion in federal financing available this year for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), which is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), cheered the agency’s approval of a $190 million loan to the Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC), as well as a $6.4 million federal grant to Providence Water for lead service line replacement projects.

Senator Reed helped passed legislation in 2014 to create WIFIA, a federal funding source for clean water infrastructure projects.  WIFIA provides direct low-interest loans to major water infrastructure projects.

“This federal funding will help upgrade our clean water infrastructure, protect public health and the health of the Bay, and lower capital costs and make clean water more affordable and accessible throughout the Ocean State,” said Senator Reed. “It will save taxpayers in the long run and help reduce pollution in our rivers, streams, and the Bay and make drinking water safer for residents.”

According to the EPA, the $190 million WIFIA loan to the Narragansett Bay Commission will be used for the Bucklin Point Resiliency Improvements project.  The federal funds will help modernize clean water infrastructure and reduce the volume of sewer overflows into Narragansett Bay.  The Clean Water Act requires local authorities to prevent overflows, which can contaminate the Blackstone, Moshassuck, Woonasquatucket, Seekonk and Providence Rivers, and ultimately pollute Narragansett Bay.

“The new loan will augment a $269 million loan announced in 2019 to help fund the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Phase IIIA Facilities project. This project is the second WIFIA loan awarded in New England to help protect public health and the ecosystems of the largest estuary in this region,” according to the EPA.

Additionally, the $6.4 million EPA award to Providence Water flows from federal Water Infrastructure Improvement (WIIN) Act funding.  This grant will help remove and replace sources of lead from aging pipes.  Senator Reed helped secure $71 million in 2020 WIIN Act funding for projects nationwide.

According to EPA: “Providence Water will fund, at no cost to homeowners, the removal and replacement of an estimated 1,400 private lead lines from households within the distribution system. For such replacements, Providence Water will replace, at their cost, any public lead pipes that may be connected to the private lead lines. Coupled with recent upgrades made by Providence Water to the system’s corrosion control treatment, this EPA grant will go a long way towards “Getting the Lead Out” of drinking water at the taps of citizens throughout Providence and surrounding communities.”