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DNREC looking to use state funds for drinking water upgrades in low-income communities

Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) says it’s working to put state funding towards water infrastructure in low-income communities. 

DNREC along with Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) is currently taking applications for its 2019 Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds. The programs offer low interest loans to Delaware municipalities looking to upgrade water infrastructure. 

But not all communities in need of upgrades are filling out applications—places like mobile parks using septic water or private wells. 

DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin says the state has funding set aside for pilot programs to assist these populations. 

“This funding and this conversation is, ‘how do we crack that nut? How do we ensure we don’t have people in the state of Delaware living in third world conditions?’” said Garvin.

According to the state Bond Bill, at least $1.6 million of the Fiscal Year 2019 and 2020 clean water funds shall be used for a clean water financing program for low-income, underserved communities.

Garvin says this strategy is necessary because some communities do not have the governing structure to apply for loans while others are deterred by the potential cost of water upgrades.  

“Even though they may have failing septic and drinking water well systems, they are looked at as being—quote—free. They’re not necessarily looking for solutions that might link them to public sewer or drinking water or having some other mechanism where they might have to pay some additional fees,” he said. 

Garvin says DNREC started with a list of 91 communities and officials are set to update him in the coming weeks on which select few will be considered for initial pilot programs.

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