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Lee, TDEC Announce Water Infrastructure Loan for Oliver Springs

Friday, October 25, 2019 | 10:05am

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Commissioner David Salyers today announced a $500,000 water infrastructure loan for Oliver Springs, with principal forgiveness for 100 percent of the amount.

Oliver Springs was awarded a Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) planning and design loan to remediate water loss within its water infrastructure systems.  The loan consists of 100 percent principal forgiveness in the amount of $500,000 with a five-year term and a 0% interest rate.

“We are pleased we can assist local communities with important infrastructure improvements,” Lee said. “This loan directly addresses a need and will improve quality of life.”

“This loan is an example of the state’s commitment to our smaller communities, and we are pleased to see Oliver Springs receive the assistance,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said. “Water infrastructure is important, and this community will benefit in a significant way.”   

“Water and wastewater infrastructure is a critical need for communities,” Salyers said. “The low-cost loan program is an excellent financial tool for helping ensure our water resources are preserved for future generations.”

Currently, the Town of Oliver Springs is experiencing significant water losses. This award will assist the community in reducing significant water losses to its drinking water infrastructure. The town will develop and implement a plan to control future losses saving the town money, and conserving the resource. This pilot project is a partnership with TDEC to develop a protocol focused on a systematic approach to evaluate, isolate, and eliminate water loss issues. This study will be used to educate other communities facing similar issues on best practices to protect and maintain water systems.

TDEC is exploring such pilot projects through the State Revolving Fund loan process as a way to promote community leadership and development of shared solutions to significant water infrastructure challenges. SRF Director Dr. Leslie Gillespie-Marthaler hopes the pilot projects can become a model for others operating utilities in Tennessee.

“TDEC is excited to promote the use of new technologies and solutions to a limited number of small and disadvantaged communities willing to document and demonstrate project benefits,” Gillespie-Marthaler said.

Those communities will receive principal forgiveness, in part, from their in-kind work monitoring project outcomes and sharing the information for the benefit of others. The effort will support TDEC’s mission to enhance the quality of life for citizens of Tennessee and to be stewards of the environment.

Through the State Revolving Fund Program, communities, utility districts and water and wastewater authorities can obtain loans with lower interest rates than most can obtain through private financing. Interest rates for loans can vary from zero percent to market rate, based on each community’s economic index. Loans utilizing EPA grant funds can also include a principal forgiveness component.

This fiscal year, TDEC has awarded $85,000 in drinking water loans and $33 million in clean water loans to meet the state’s infrastructure needs. During fiscal year 2019, TDEC awarded $13,430,300 in drinking water loans and $83,194,500 in clean water loans for a total of $96,624,800 to meet those water infrastructure needs. Tennessee’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program has awarded more than $2 billion in low-interest loans since its inception in 1987. The state’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program has awarded more than $300 million in low-interest loans since its inception in 1996.

TDEC administers the State Revolving Fund Program in conjunction with the Tennessee Local Development Authority. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides grants to fund the program, and the state provides a 20-percent match. Loan repayments are returned to the program and are used to fund future SRF loans.