BOSTON — Senior federal-elected, state-elected, and environmental officials announced efforts to rebuild Rhode Island water treatment plants that were irreparably damaged last spring during devastating floods with new treatment equipment to include state-of-the-art energy-efficient and green technologies.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) New England regional office began providing technical assistance to wastewater treatment facilities and pumping stations in Warwick, West Warwick, and Cranston, R.I., immediately after the spring floods inundated the facilities making them inoperable. Knowing that these facilities would have to be completely rebuilt and having created energy efficiency plans for the facilities before the flooding, the EPA began collaborating with Rhode Island’s Office of Energy Resources (RI OER) to explore how to fund the rebuilding of wastewater treatment facilities with energy efficient equipment.
RI OER quickly began working to find funding for these projects and is now providing $3.1 million to Rhode Island from the 2009 American Recovery and Restoration Act. Of these funds, $2 million will go to provide energy efficiency upgrades to the wastewater treatment facilities affected by the natural disaster.
Additionally, National Grid, the electric utility provider for all Rhode Island wastewater treatment plants, is providing $100,000 in technical assessments for energy-efficient equipment at all of the 19 wastewater treatment plants in the state. RI OER will match funding for this effort with another $100,000 and will then follow up with $1 million to pay for the actual energy efficiency upgrades identified in the assessments.
The RI OER also is looking for ongoing revenue to fund additional projects. It is estimated that these energy efficiency projects could reduce the facilities’ energy costs by 30 percent annually, providing rate payers with a sound, long-term return on investment. Increasing energy efficiencies at wastewater treatment plants will reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Climate models have predicted more frequent and damaging storms resulting from atmospheric changes stemming from increases in greenhouse gases.