PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is updating rules that guide administration of the state’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan program, which provides low-interest loans to public agencies including communities, tribal governments and special districts for water quality improvements.
DEQ is taking comments on the proposed program rule changes. If approved by the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission in December, the rules are expected to go into effect soon afterward.
“These updates should improve DEQ’s ability to provide financial assistance to public agencies that have diverse water quality improvement project needs, will clarify the program’s funding process, and will ensure long-term viability of the fund,” said Manette Simpson, who coordinates the program for DEQ.
As administrator of the program, DEQ awards available funding through a competitive application process. DEQ ranks proposed projects based on criteria in the rules to determine priority for loans. Many communities have wastewater facilities that need updating or in some cases replacement. Facility improvements cost millions of dollars.
The amended rules will better assist communities. Interest rates for all communities will be reduced, and more of the program’s funds will be allocated to small communities. The proposed rule changes also revise the project scoring system to a more balanced ranking approach for all water quality improvement projects.
DEQ will conduct three public hearings in early September to allow communities and the general public to comment on the rules. Each hearing will begin with a brief overview of the proposed rule changes, followed by the opportunity to provide oral and written comments.
SOURCE: Oregon Department of Environmental Quality