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Idaho DEQ Blog

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

DEQ Grants and Loans Program streamlines environmental reviews, saving time and money

May 16, 2018

By DEQ Grants and Loans Program

DEQ's Grants and Loans Program conducted a kaizen in May 2016 to streamline environmental reviews and reduce applicant costs. Since then, the program and its grant and loan recipients have seen a successful impact on the application process for DEQ-funded water and wastewater projects.

A kaizen is an effort to make continuous and incremental improvements by evaluating working practices and efficiency to improve productivity or performance. Under the new streamlined process, applicants have noticed rapid turnaround time for project reviews, which has resulted in early project completion and significant cost savings.

Southside Water and Sewer District's drinking water project is a great example. As a direct result of the kaizen process, the entire project planning process, including environmental work, was completed in just under 18 months, compared to the average 26 months. In addition, $13,643 remained of the $40,100 grant, a 34% savings in grant funds.

The kaizen methodology has built bridges between consultants, DEQ, and communities, achieving the primary goal of becoming as efficient as possible while eliminating duplicative steps and reducing process time.

 

 

SRF-funded energy-efficient wastewater treatment plant upgrade saves town over $300,000 a year

March 30, 2017

By Aimee Hill, Outreach and Environmental Coordinator, Grants and Loans

Upgrades to the City of Fruitland wastewater treatment plant will save the city almost 3,090,600 kilowatt-hours and $300,000 per year. The 2015 upgrades were made possible with a low-interest loan from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality State Revolving Fund (SRF). The SRF loan process emphasizes reductions to operations and maintenance costs.

The savings largely come from installing energy-efficient “green” options the city chose to fund when upgrading its wastewater treatment facility, in lieu of the more energy-intensive alternatives available.

Investigation required by the SRF’s Green Project Reserve Program revealed opportunities to upgrade Fruitland’s wastewater system that would provide additional energy and money savings. The city installed a low-pressure, high-intensity ultraviolet system along with a tertiary filter to reduce disinfection power requirements, premium energy-efficient blowers and pumps, and an advanced computer-based monitoring and control system to minimize power costs of the new plant while optimizing treatment effectiveness.

Substantial cost savings from reduced energy bills will rapidly offset the initial cost difference of the green components, and Fruitland can expect many years of continued cost savings due to the energy-efficient treatment of the city’s wastewater.

To learn more about the Green Project Reserve Program, visit www.deq.idaho.gov/water-quality/grants-loans/green-project-reserve.

DEQ wastewater loan helped fund City of Weiser upgrades, saving town over $45,000 a year

December 21, 2016

By Kevin McNeill, DEQ Loan Program

Upgrades to the City of Weiser wastewater treatment plant will save the city almost 665,000 kilowatt-hours and $45,000 per year. The upgrades were made possible with a low-interest loan from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality State Revolving Fund (SRF).

 

The savings come from installing energy-efficient “green” options the city chose to fund when upgrading its wastewater treatment facility in lieu of the more energy-intensive alternatives available. Substantial cost savings from reduced energy bills will rapidly offset the initial cost difference of the green components. Weiser can expect many subsequent years of continued cost savings due to the energy-efficient treatment of the city’s wastewater.

Investigation required by the SRF’s Green Project Reserve Program revealed opportunities to upgrade Weiser’s wastewater system that would provide additional energy and money savings. The city’s consultants recommended installing fine bubble diffusers with automated dissolved oxygen control and premium energy-efficient blowers and pumps equipped with variable frequency drives to ensure the equipment operated at optimum speeds, saving energy and reducing mechanical stress.

To learn more about grants and loans available to wastewater and drinking water systems, visit our Grants and Loans webpage.

DEQ provides funding opportunities for drinking water and wastewater systems

October 19, 2016

By Aimee Hill, Outreach and Environmental Coordinator, Grants and Loans

Each year, DEQ provides funding opportunities, in the form of grants or loans, to certain eligible drinking water and wastewater systems that are contributing to public health issues. These funds can be used to improve water quality or address infrastructure challenges.

Planning grants provide up to 50% of the cost of project design and construction planning activities (with the grantee providing a matching share from local sources). Grants awarded under this program must be used entirely to prepare facility plans that identify the most cost-effective, environmentally sound methods to upgrade eligible water and wastewater systems to achieve and maintain compliance with state and federal standards. 

DEQ’s loan funds provide low-interest funding—up to 100% of project costs—to design and construct system improvements. Loans also may be awarded to address nonpoint source pollution control activities such as pollutant trading, upgrading or replacing individual septic tanks, restoring wetlands, treating and controlling stormwater, and addressing agricultural runoff. Repayment terms are between 20 and 30 years, and a portion of the loan repayment may be waived.

Do you know a system that may be interested? 

The first step is for a system to call and discuss with the local DEQ regional office staff any issues it may be facing. Next, the system should notify DEQ in writing by submitting a letter of interest (LOI) form to DEQ by January 13, 2017. The LOI form is available here or the DEQ regional offices. Even if a system is on the current (2017) priority list, it still must submit the LOI form for the upcoming year (2018).

After the LOI submission deadline, projects are rated using standardized criteria. All rated systems are then comparatively ranked with other systems around the state. The rankings are compiled in the DEQ grant and loan priority lists. These lists help DEQ determine which projects we can provide financial assistance to, as the demand currently exceeds available funds. Those systems that rank highest and are ready to proceed are notified that they are eligible to apply for a grant or loan at the beginning of the next fiscal year (July 1, 2017). The map below shows the total funding by county over the past 15 years.

To learn more about the LOI process, access the forms, and find your regional office contact, visit the Drinking Water and Wastewater Grants and Loans Letter of Interest Forms for FY 18 webpage.

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