Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new emergency loan program for local governments to help finance immediate repairs to drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities in communities damaged by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
The Hurricane Emergency Loan Program (HELP) would provide up to $1 million in no-interest loans for critical assessment and repair to damaged drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities. Repairs to pump stations, electrical equipment, treatment facilities and other critical equipment are eligible along with temporary emergency services such as vacuum truck hauling, bypass pumping and disinfection, and related engineering and other professional services.
To create this $25 million emergency fund, the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) is utilizing funds within the state Drinking Water and Clean Water Revolving Funds (SRFs). The SRFs traditionally provide short- and long-term financing of major improvements to water and sewer systems in New York.
"HELP loans will provide expedited assistance to municipalities that are coping with serious damage to their drinking water and wastewater treatment systems," Governor Cuomo said. "These loans will be a lifeline to communities who are working so hard to recover from these devastating storms."
EFC's Board of Directors approved the emergency loan program at a meeting this week. The proposal has been forwarded to the Public Authorities Control Board for final approval. The PACB is scheduled to meet Wednesday, Sept. 21.
"DEC organized engineers from DEC, EFC, the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies to perform site inspections that will qualify a municipality for both a HELP loan and FEMA assistance," said EFC President and CEO Matthew J. Driscoll. Driscoll is co-chairman of the Governor's Upstate Storm and Flooding Recovery Task Force.
"These emergency loans will allow for expedited repairs to the affected wastewater treatment facilities," said Joe Martens, DEC Commissioner and Chair of EFC's Board of Directors. "The sooner repairs can be made the sooner drinking water can be fully protected and harm to the environment can be minimized."
EFC created the HELP loans in cooperation with the State Department of Health (DOH), the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the State Emergency Management Office and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EFC and DOH jointly administer the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, while DEC and EFC administers the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
DEC engineers have contacted all affected facilities and are available for further assistance. EFC financial analysts are available to water and wastewater plant administrators and other municipal officials for questions and consultation. For further information, local governments in FEMA-designated counties are invited to call James Levine, EFC Senior Vice President and General Counsel, for assistance with a HELP loan at 1-800-882-9721 or via email at email@example.com.