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First of Recovery Act Water Funds Awarded By EPA

In a move that stands to create thousands of jobs, boost local economies, improve aging water infrastructure and protect human health and the environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded the first of the $4 billion worth of Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) grants have been made to the states of New York ($430 million to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation), West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Nebraska ($20 million to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality). Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) grants have been awarded to the states of Kansas ($19.5 million to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment) and Nebraska ($19.5 million to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality).

This new infusion of money will help state and local governments finance many of the overdue improvements to water and wastewater projects including innovative green projects that save energy, water and further reduce the impact on the environment. At least 20% of the funds provided under the Recovery Act are to be used for green infrastructure, water and energy efficiency improvements and other environmentally innovative projects.

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund program provides low-interest loans for water quality protection projects for wastewater treatment, non-point source pollution control, and watershed and estuary management. Since its inception in 1987, EPA has awarded more than $26 billion in Clean Water State Revolving Fund grants by providing over 22,700 low-interest loans to date, which states have turned into $69 billion of financial assistance for water quality projects.

The Safe Drinking Water Act, as amended in 1996, established the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to provide low-interest loans for drinking water systems to finance infrastructure improvements. The program also emphasizes providing funds to small and disadvantaged communities and to programs that encourage pollution prevention as a tool for ensuring safe drinking water. Since the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program began in 1997, more than $8 billion in grants have been awarded by the EPA, which states have turned into $15 billion of financial assistance to fund drinking water projects.

The revolving nature of both of these programs ensures water quality and drinking water projects will be funded for generations to come.

An unprecedented $6 billion dollars will be awarded to fund water and wastewater infrastructure projects across the country under the Recovery Act in the form of low interest loans, principal forgiveness and grants.

In the single largest grant in its history, the EPA awarded more than $430 million to the State of New York for wastewater infrastructure projects. This funding, which was awarded to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and will be administered by the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, a state-run organization that helps public and private entities comply with federal and state environmental requirements, will finance clean water infrastructure projects in communities across the State.

Upon Environmental Facilities Corporation Board of Directors approval, ten projects will be awarded a total of $170 million for water treatment plant and sewer upgrades, rehabilitations and improvements. Projects are located in the counties of Cayuga, Erie, Onondaga, Orange, Orleans, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester.

“EPA is committed to being part of the solution in this economic downturn. By keeping the waterways clean and healthy, we’re bringing new jobs and new opportunities to local communities,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Protecting human health and the environment is a great way to put people to work and stimulate our economy.”

New York’s Green Reserve for the New York CWSRF is $86 million and will be distributed via a new $35 million Green Innovations Grant Program. The remaining $51 million will fund innovative initiatives at traditional sewage projects that qualify for ARRA monies. Of the $86.8 million in stimulus funds appropriated for the New York DWSRF, $17.36 million will be available for green infrastructure projects. Applications for green innovation projects are available on the Environmental Facility Corporation’s Economic Recovery website at: www.nysefc.org/recovery.

“New York State is committed to innovative approaches to building environmentally sustainable and energy efficient wastewater treatment technologies. This funding will help protect our environment and will support thousands of jobs across the State at a time when we need it most,” said New York Governor David A. Paterson (D).

The funding will create thousands of jobs across New York in many different sectors, including trade and construction jobs such as carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and heavy equipment operators, engineers; manufacturing jobs to create steel, pumps, pipes, concrete, and asphalt; and other jobs such as legal jobs, high-tech jobs and operators of the plants.

“There is little question that public works and infrastructure renewal are vital to creating jobs today and laying a foundation for a sustainable economic recovery. A healthy construction industry invigorates the economy in many ways. For every $1 billion spent on construction as many as 35,000 jobs are created. Clean water, safe drinking water, efficient transportation systems, modern ports and airports, renewable energy and other public facilities all contribute to a healthy environment and business climate,” said Ross J. Pepe, president of the Construction Industry Council.

The first round of water infrastructure projects to be funded includes:
  • Village of Weedsport, Cayuga County will receive $6.1 million to support the planning, design and rehabilitation of the Village’s sanitary sewer system and for construction costs associated with upgrading the community’s wastewater treatment plant. During wet weather events, t
    he wastewater treatment facility receives too much water to treat; this project will mitigate that water inflow into the sewer system and ensure compliance with all environmental permits.
  • Town of Owasco, Cayuga County will receive $1.65 million to support the planning, design and construction of the Town of Owasco’s Archie Street Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation and the construction of a high flow pump station. The sewer district is subject to high wet weather flows. This project will help to convey flows that exceed system capacity to a storage tank for later treatment.
  • Buffalo Sewer Authority, Erie County will receive $17.6 million to support planning, design and construction of a new control facility that will collect and process material from 20 sewer regulators within the Hamburg drain system. This project is part of the redevelopment of Buffalo’s Inner Harbor.
  • Onondaga County ARRA funding will support the planning, design and construction of the County’s Combined Sewer Overflow Abatement projects. The projects to be funded will reduce combined sewer discharge into Onondaga Lake from the City of Syracuse using green infrastructure and other traditional storm water mitigation technologies.
  • City of Middletown, Orange County will receive $27.8 million to support design and construction of the expansion and upgrade of the City of Middletown’s wastewater treatment facility. This phase of the project will address upgrading the plant to eliminate the discharge of excessive levels of pollutants to the Wallkill River.
  • Village of Albion, Orleans County will receive $2.65 million to support the planning, design and construction of the Village of Albion’s sanitary sewer improvements. The project involves the rehabilitation and replacement of approximately 16,000 linear feet of existing sewers, the replacement of 90 manhole frames and covers and 32 spot repairs within the village. This project improves treatment levels and will save energy by reducing the volume of flow requiring treatment.
  • Rockland County will receive a combined total of $35.2 million for two projects to support the planning, design and construction of sewer system rehabilitation and extensions within Rockland County’s sewer district #1. The wastewater collection system will feed into the County’s new advanced wastewater treatment facility which discharges into the Ramapo River.
  • Village of Greenport, Suffolk County will receive $4 million to support the costs associated with the planning, design and construction of full scale biological nitrogen removal, ultraviolet light disinfection and other improvements to the Village’s Water Pollution Control Plant. This project is to ensure the Village’s compliance with the Long Island Sound Estuary Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan.

  • Westchester County will receive $55 million to support the costs associated with the design and construction of biological nitrogen removal and other upgrades at the Mamaroneck Wastewater Treatment Facility. This project is to ensure the County’s compliance with the Long Island Sound Estuary Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan.
EPA Awards Grant For Construction Rental Equipment Retrofit Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) a $400,000 grant to help retrofit construction equipment that is leased to construction projects throughout the Northeast.

Placing emissions controls on this equipment slashes harmful pollutants from diesel engines, which can directly impact people’s health. These pollutants can contribute or cause individuals to suffer asthma attacks.

The check was presented to Paul J. Miller, NESCAUM deputy director by George Pavlou, EPA’s top local official, at a ceremony at H.O. Penn Machinery in the Bronx. H.O. Penn is a prominent Caterpillar Equipment dealer with locations through the Northeast. The Penn organization was very heavily involved in the cleanup immediately following 9-11. In fact, their generators were among the first on site. 

“Construction equipment is often leased, and getting rental facilities to put pollution controls on their equipment means cleaner air for communities everywhere the leased equipment is used,” said Pavlou. “Grants like this one create jobs while making a healthier future for our children.”

Rental equipment is expected to play a critical role in helping jump start the economy through the stimulus plan. This effort will certainly help update the equipment and improve air quality.

NESCAUM, a clean air association of the eight Northeast states, will use the EPA grant to retrofit diesel-powered rental construction equipment operating in the six New England states along with New York and New Jersey. According to equipment inventories, as much as 25 percent of construction equipment in these areas is owned by rental companies, which is often not equipped with the latest available clean diesel technology.

NESCAUM will also work with the construction industry associations in the region and with the manufacturers of emission control devices to aid vehicle retrofits and target rental companies, provide guidance in selecting vendors and technologies and facilitate competitive bids for the control technology and its installation. The retrofit project runs from December 2008 through December 2010.

Throughout the nation, EPA is helping diesel grantees use the funds to implement clean diesel projects that will cut thousands of tons of diesel emissions, including particulate matter and nitrogen oxides. As a result, the projects would also reduce premature deaths, asthma attacks and other respiratory ailments, lost work days, and many other health impacts every year.

EPA Region 2 Environment Clean-up
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides funding for significant projects that will help clean the Region 2 environment, which encompasses 60,000 miles of rivers and streams, including waterways of major importance such as the Hudson and Passaic Rivers, the ports of San Juan and New York/New Jersey Harbor, Lake Ontario, Niagara Falls and the St. Lawrence Seaway and provide better environmental and public health protection to its citizens.

EPA’s portion of the plan will create green jobs that will also help clean contaminated land, produce cleaner drinking water and air quality, spur environmentally conscious urban and rural redevelopment and reduce greenhouse gases.

Funding from the ARRA includes projects:
  • to clean Brownfields, real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Grants will help community groups to evaluate and clean up former industrial and commercial sites.
  • to clean Superfund sites, uncontrolled or abandoned places where hazardous waste is located, possibly affecting local ecosystems or people. Additional funding will help speed up the pace of cleanup at targeted hazardous sites.
  • to support the implementation of diesel emission reduction technologies. Grants will help state and local governments, and non-profit organizations with projects that reduce diesel emissions in Region 2.
  • to identify and repair leaking underground storage tanks and improve water quality infrastructure. Additional funding will assist with the cleanup of petroleum leaks from underground storage tanks.
  • to assist communities with water quality and wastewater and drinking water infrastructure needs. A portion of the funding will be targeted toward green infrastructure, water and energy efficiency and environmentally innovative projects.
To learn more about funding and grant opportunities currently available and to apply before deadlines, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/eparecovery.
Ninth Annual Hudson Valley Construction Career Day

More than 1,000 high school students (pictured is Nick Piscionere of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 21 showing 18-year-old Anthony Lapponese of the Yorktown Tech Center how to solder a joint-photo by Vincent DiSalvio/The Journal News) from Rockland, Westchester, Orange and Putnam counties in New York participated in classes on how to weld pipes, operate an excavator, lay a brick wall and perform other construction trade activities on March 27 during the Ninth Annual Hudson Valley Construction Career Day at the Rockland Community College Field House in Suffern, NY.

The event, intended to educate students who will soon enter the workforce to the many challenging and rewarding jobs available in the construction industry, allowed students to speak with leaders from more than 20 construction and building unions and private employers. Representatives from local unions described their apprenticeship programs, which can quickly lead to well-paying jobs that are in demand in the region and across the nation. Representatives from local civil engineering firms and engineering trade groups were available to discuss career opportunities in their fields.

“There always is a need for well-trained tradesmen,” said Ross J. Pepe, president of the Construction Industry Council of Westchester and Hudson Valley Inc., one of the event’s sponsors. “Working as a carpenter, plumber, electrician or equipment operator provides a sense of accomplishment, building something lasting, as well as providing a good income to enjoy life.”

It is an industry that has suffered recent setbacks, though, including layoffs and canceled projects during the recession.

But building contractors also are expected to benefit from increased spending on roads, bridges and other infrastructure included in the $787 billion Stimulus Package.

Economists are projecting significant growth in the construction trades and a rise in job opportunities in the years to come as a result of state and federal economic stimulus programs.

“With the advent of this whole economic (slowdown), jobs that these kids used to go into, like working on Wall Street, working at an insurance company … are not there any more,” said John Maraia, business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 363. “The Stimulus Package will be a windfall for the building and construction trades. I believe this is the time when this type of career will not just be a two, three or four-year career but cradle to grave.”

Employment in specialty construction trades dropped by 800 jobs to 23,500 positions during the past year in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties, according to the the New York State Department of Labor. Overall unemployment in the same region soared to 7.3 percent in February from 4.5 percent a year earlier.

“Rockland County is not immune to the economic slowdown,” Rockland County executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said. “But the Stimulus Package is coming through, particularly in the construction field.

Trade unions in the region are likely to see an increase of 7,000 to 8,000 jobs in the next five years as the industry trains workers to perform commercial construction and public works projects, according to Edward Doyle, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Westchester and Putnam Counties Inc. Employers also agree that there may be a potential for future employment opportunities.

Students who enter the trades will be expected to have a high school diploma or a G.E.D. (general equivalency diploma) in order to qualify for bona fide apprenticeship training programs, which are sponsored by many of the building and construction trade unions.

World Of Concrete Recycles 93 Percent Of Post-Show Waste

Outstanding results were again achieved from the recycling program implemented at this year’s World of Concrete (WOC). 93 percent of the post-show waste collected at World of Concrete was diverted from local landfills and recycled; an increase of 12 percent over the 2008 event.

In addition to the typical materials used at shows, WOC also contends with concrete walls and slabs used for demonstrations. All of
these items were recycled at the close of the show.
“World of Concrete is pleased to continue its effort to recycle post-show waste and concrete. Our exhibitors and attendees have been pleased with our results and support this important environmental initiative that is crucial to the tradeshow industry,” said World of Concrete Show director Tom Cindric.

Greg Sitek

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