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7/31/17

New EPA Tool Helps Communities Access More Than $10 Billion in Water Infrastructure Financing

New EPA tool gives communities access to information and financing opportunities that will help improve water quality and protect public health

07/26/2017     Contact Information: (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is launching the Water Finance Clearinghouse, a web‐based portal to help communities make informed financing decisions for their drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure needs. The Clearinghouse provides communities with a searchable database with more than $10 billion in water funding sources and over 550 resources to support local water infrastructure projects. It consolidates and expands upon existing EPA-supported databases to create a one-stop-shop for all community water finance needs. The Water Finance Clearinghouse was developed by EPA’s Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center, an information and assistance center that provides financing information to help local decision makers make informed decisions for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure to reach their public health and environmental goals.
  

“Every day, Americans depend on water infrastructure to ensure that their drinking water is safe and that local waterways stay clean,” said EPA’s Office of Water’s Deputy Assistant Administrator D. Lee Forsgren. “Investing in water infrastructure sustains local economies by creating jobs, protecting public health, and increasing quality of life. EPA’s Clearinghouse is a vital portal that helps connect communities with the information and tools they need to finance much needed water infrastructure improvement projects.” 
Many communities around the country have aging or inadequate water infrastructure: each year approximately 240,000 main breaks occur while elsewhere billions of gallons of raw sewage are discharged into local surface waters from aging conveyance systems. Communities increasingly need efficient access to up-to-date water finance information to rehabilitate or replace their water infrastructure. EPA’s new Water Finance Clearinghouse meets this need.
The Water Finance Clearinghouse gives local decision makers an opportunity to search for available funding sources for water infrastructure as well as resources (such as reports, webpages, and webinars) on financing mechanisms and approaches that can help communities access capital to meet their water infrastructure needs. State, federal, local, and foundation funding sources and resources on public-private partnerships, asset management practices, revenue models, and affordability approaches are included in the Clearinghouse.
The Water Finance Clearinghouse is updated in real-time, following a crowdsourcing model. States, federal agencies, and other water sector stakeholders have the ability to suggest edits and new resources or funding options at any time through the Contributor Portal. Stakeholders can use this interactive feature to manage how their programs and initiatives are displayed in the Clearinghouse.  
EPA webinars on how to use the Clearinghouse are scheduled for:
  • July 27
  • July 31
  • August 3
  • August 14
  • August 18
  • August 24
  • August 31
All webinars will be held 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Eastern. You can register at: https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/4533646364837520386

7/20/17

The Port of Gulfport is on the move! There are $450M worth of improvements planned.


The Port of Gulfport is preparing to gear up for a major addition coming to the port's west terminal. A global company called SeaOne will ship liquid gas on vessels leaving the port to markets in Central America.
The port is part of a process on the cutting edge.
"It's brand new technology, they do have a Department of Energy permit. Gulfport is the only port in the United States authorized to ship this form of gas," said port director Jonathan Daniels.
The product will be shipped throughout the Caribbean basin. Trucks and rail cars will not be used. A pipeline will be constructed to move gas down to SeaOne facilities that will be built at the port.
"There will be two large scale pipelines from just north of I-10 underground, and ultimately attach to a facility on the port site," said Daniels. 
The authority signed a 40-year lease with SeaOne. The project represents a private investment of $450 million. No public funding will be used to finance the effort.
That plan bodes well for tax revenue collected from the SeaOne pipeline, liquid gas plant and cargo facility.
"What that means [is] because it's not owned by the Port Authority, it's taxable. They have struck agreements with the county, city, and the school district. Usually you see projects on the port with a minimal amount of taxes, this will allow for about $4.5 million a year for the first 10 years," according to Daniels
SeaOne is expected to break ground on the project in 2018, and should be up and running in 2020.

7/12/17

$43 million for coastal restoration, infrastructure coming to Mississippi

Artist’s rendering of proposed Mississippi Aquarium in downtown Gulfport


More than $43 million in federal grants will help fund six Mississippi Gulf Coast projects focused on coastal restoration and transportation infrastructure, Gov. Phil Bryant announced Wednesday.

The grants were doled out by the U.S. Department of the Treasury per the federal Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States (RESTORE) Act of 2012. The RESTORE Act is one of a handful of pots of federal money that provide funding to the Gulf region to restore ecosystems and rebuild local economies damaged by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

The projects, originally announced in late 2015, are part of Mississippi’s Multiyear Implementation Plan, which prioritizes the eligible projects to receive these types of Treasury funds, called the Direct Component.

Some eligible activities under this plan include restoration and protection of natural resources; mitigation of damage to natural resources; workforce development and job creation; improvements to state parks; infrastructure projects, including ports; coastal flood protection; and, promotion of tourism and Gulf seafood.

So far, the state’s proposed projects under this plan total more than $54.1 million, a statement from the governor’s office said.
This wave of projects includes:
  • Constructing the Coastal Community Gallery Building on the Mississippi Aquarium campus, a roughly 42,000 square foot space that will serve as the primary aquarium building ($17 million)
  • Constructing new hangar at the Stennis International Airport to support aerospace industry growth ($2 million)
  • Workforce development and job creation via an Off-bottom Oyster Aquaculture Program, which supports training in alternative oyster harvesting methods for Gulf Coast oystermen and fishermen ($1 million)
  • Planning assessments to identify how to improve fiber optic infrastructure along the Mississippi Gulf Coast ($5 million)
  • Completing improvements to the Port Bienville Trans-Loading Terminal Facility. The project will build about 1,600 linear feet of rail spur, 1,200 linear feet of bulkhead, and 9,300 square yards of dock area so the terminal can be used for shipping materials via multiple modes of transportation; shipping container operations; and supply vessels in the offshore industry. ($8 million)
  • Constructing the Jackson County Corridor Connector Road, which is 1.1 miles of roadway connecting Mallett Road/Sangani Boulevard to Cook Road. This would be phase one of a multi-phased project to expand the area’s transportation networks ($10.2 million)