The Washington State Department of Ecology is proposing a substantial investment in clean water projects across the state, aiming to allocate $386m in grants and loans to 134 high-priority initiatives.

These projects, supported by the department’s Water Quality Combined Funding Program, target various areas including upgrading wastewater treatment and sewer systems, managing polluted stormwater, and addressing diffuse sources of pollution.

The programme channels nearly 90% of its funding directly to local communities for environmental and infrastructure projects. Funding for these endeavors is drawn from a combination of state and federal sources dedicated to water quality improvements and protection.

Notably, contributions from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Capitalization Grant, funding the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), play a significant role.

For the state fiscal year 2025, additional BIL supplemental funding of approximately $31m is designated to aid small, financially disadvantaged communities, alongside $4.5m in forgivable principal loan funding aimed at addressing emerging contaminants like 6PPD.

Furthermore, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing an estimated $1m from the Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grants Program, which is being integrated into the Water Quality Combined Funding program.

Applications for funding are accepted annually from August to October. Recent initiatives include the establishment of the Small Community Project Priority List, aimed at simplifying the funding process for small, financially disadvantaged communities seeking wastewater treatment facility support. This list ensures consistent financial support over multiple years, providing certainty for local governments and alleviating the financial burden on ratepayers.

The proposed funding targets a range of projects, including wastewater initiatives, nonpoint pollution projects, and stormwater management efforts. For example, wastewater projects, totaling approximately $327m, are designed to receive grants, low-interest loans, and forgivable loans.

Notable highlights include projects in cities like Aberdeen and Republic, addressing critical infrastructure needs to prevent system failures and environmental hazards.

Nonpoint pollution projects, amounting to $35m in grants, aim to tackle diffuse sources of pollution, including those from onsite sewage systems. Organisations like the Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group and Trout Unlimited are set to receive funding for projects aimed at restoring habitat and improving water quality in vital ecological areas.

Lastly, stormwater management efforts, with a proposed allocation of $53m, will focus on reducing stormwater pollution across various communities and port districts. Initiatives like those in the City of Tumwater and the City of Bremerton aim to implement stormwater treatment retrofit systems to address pollution issues in water bodies like Kitsap Lake and Percival Creek.