Ohio EPA awarded $936 million in loans to improve water quality

By Jackie Borchardt | Source: cleveland.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency set a record in 2017 for loans issued to improve the quality of Ohio's rivers, lakes and other bodies of water, with Northeast Ohio receiving the largest share.

Ohio EPA awarded more than $936.5 million in low-interest or interest-free loans through three state loan programs, according to a 2017 report released Wednesday by the agency. That's 24 percent more than in 2016.

The loans are offered at below-market or zero interest rates; some don't need to be repaid at all. The loans issued in 2017 saved taxpayers $150 million in interest, according to the agency.

The state loaned $861 million for improvements to wastewater infrastructure and $10 million for projects that restore wetlands or otherwise counter the loss of Ohio's natural water resources.

"We were able to make this nearly billion-dollar investment in water quality improvements because these funds are carefully managed, and we are meeting frequently with county commissioners and mayors to understand their community needs and build positive working relationships between state and local governments," Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler said in a news release.