Environment

Kentucky will receive more than $38 million from the Environmental Protection Agency to improve the commonwealth’s ailing water infrastructure.

The state’s drinking and wastewater systems are getting older and need investment, particularly in smaller, rural counties that don’t have the revenues to maintain water and sewer lines.

Earlier this year, Kentucky’s drinking and wastewater systems received a “C+” and a “C-“ from the American Society for Civil Engineers. The Kentucky Division of Water said the state needs as much as $14 billion over the next 20 years for its drinking water, wastewater and dam infrastructure.

Wednesday’s announcement is part of a $2.6 billion effort on behalf of the Trump Administration to improve the country’s infrastructure and public health. Each year Congress authorizes the EPA to provide the funding.

“Helping our states invest in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure ensures clean and safe water necessary to support local needs,” said EPA Acting Region 4 Administrator Mary Walker, in a press release.

The Kentucky Infrastructure Authority awards the majority of the funding to distressed utilities through low-interest loans and principal forgiveness, said Donna McNeil, executive director. Profits generated from the loans then go back into the state fund to help other communities, she said.

“It could really help those communities that are desperate in need to stay in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act or the Clean Water Act,” McNeil said.

McNeil’s office is currently drafting a plan for how the funds will be used. After that, utilities in need will receive an invitation to apply for the funds. The EPA usually begins allocating monies in July, she said.

Another approximately $5 million will go to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet for salaries, technical assistance and other programs, McNeil said.

Energy and Environment Cabinet
Energy and Environment Cabinet
Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.