For all those environmentally conscious tax payers who tossed their share of loose change into the proverbial wishing well of the federal budget, the optimism might soon pay off. When Barack Obama signs the nation’s record-breaking $787 billion stimulus package, $6 billion should flow to water infrastructure repair, river and lake cleanup operations, as well as park restoration.
The Associated Press calls the allocation a mere down payment, not nearly enough to cover the billions of dollars needed to accomplish the EPA’s long list of historically underfunded work. But according to American Rivers, the extra cash should at least jumpstart a number of dangerously atrophying projects.
“This is an unprecedented amount of money for clean water and rivers,” says Betsy Otto, vice president of strategic partnerships for American Rivers. “It’s a real investment in more sustainable water infrastructure for the future, and it will boost health, safety and quality of life in communities across the country.”
The stimulus package, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1), divides its $6 billion between environmental projects and social programs: it gives $4 billion for clean water projects and $2 billion for drinking water projects. The money will be released through the EPA’s State Revolving Fund program, which provides loan-interest loans to banks, nonprofits, local governments, and federal and state agencies.