Extensive funding has been announced for the largest drinking water company in western Massachusetts.
The Springfield Water & Sewer Commission has a $ 250 million soft loan.
At an event on Thursday to announce the funding, EPO Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox said the money will cut the Commission’s project timeline by 15 years, create 1,700 jobs and save taxpayers $ 60 billion.
“It’s just amazing what investments like this can do,” said Fox.
The funds will help fund about 30 projects, said Commission Executive Director Josh Schimmel, including major upgrades to the water and wastewater treatment plant, both of which are more than 50 years old.
“The regulations keep advancing and the technology is advancing, but not our sewage treatment plants,” said Schimmel.
The planned improvements to the water treatment facility will reduce the halo acid content in Springfield tap water. Although not viewed as an urgent health risk, the contamination has exceeded legal limits for years. It arises from the fact that organic substances cannot be sufficiently filtered out of the water before it is disinfected with chlorine.
Another major project already underway will build three pipes under the Connecticut River to divert wastewater from a new pumping station in Springfield to the Commission’s sewage treatment plant on Bondi’s Island in Agawam.
One of the two pipes now in use under the river is nearly 100 years old and the other is more than 50 years old, said William Fuqua, Director of Wastewater Operations.
“It’s a really important project for us,” said Fuqua. “It will replace critical infrastructure before it fails, which is of course important.”
Projects are also planned that will help reduce the Commission’s carbon footprint and prepare water and wastewater infrastructure for the more frequent severe storms that climate change says scientists say, said Martin Suuberg, commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental protection.
“An extraordinary opportunity to build extraordinary projects,” said Suuberg.
Congressman Richard Neal, the Springfield Democrat who chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, praised the ongoing investments in Springfield’s water system, which he believes are “the envy of the nation.”
“And we never take that lightly,” said Neal. “When people turn on the faucet in their homes, they expect it to be non-toxic.”
He said the lead contamination of drinking water in Flint, Michigan several years ago was a “grim reminder” of the aftermath of attempts to cut costs.
The $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the U.S. Senate awaiting action by the House of Representatives would pour billions of dollars into water and wastewater infrastructure.