National Drinking Water Clearinghouse
West Virginia University
PO Box 6893
Morgantown, WV
26506-6893


Where’s the money?
Using EPA’s Revolving Loan Fund to Bolster Security

by Mark Kemp-Rye
On Tap Associate Editor

As water systems around the U.S. strive to improve security, many face the age-old question “where will the money come from?” At the moment, there are at least two sources for funds.

The following table on the right illustrates eligible activities that are under either the infrastructure fund or through state set-aside funds. Table source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, November 2001

Before it adjourned at the end of 2001, Congress approved a $20 billion package that includes millions in federal funds to conduct vulnerability assessments under an emergency-spending bill.

The congressional package is a compromise between the Senate and House of Representatives and was attached to the Defense Department’s annual appropriations bill (HR 3338). The $20 billion emergency supplemental spending provisions allocate $175.6 million to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), $90.3 million of which is targeted for counterterrorism initiatives, such as water system vulnerability assessments.

In addition to the emergency-spending package, EPA officials encourage systems to use drinking water state revolving fund (DWSRF) money to improve the security of public water systems. In November 2001, EPA released a fact sheet titled “Use of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) to Implement Security Measures at Public Water Systems,” detailing which projects the DWSRF can fund. Approved projects include vulnerability assessments, emergency plans, source water protection, and infrastructure improvements.

Although EPA recognizes that people are the most important asset in securing a system, the DWSRF program does not fund operations and maintenance activities nor, according to the fact sheet, can it pay for a system to hire security help. The program also does not allow a system to purchase chemicals intended to increase its current disinfection process.
If a public water system needs funding to implement security measures, the fact sheet states, the first step it should take is to contact the state DWSRF representative. States can fund emergency projects, or require long-term projects to go through the usual review process.


“EPA encourages state drinking water programs and DWSRF programs to continue to work with public water systems to help them identify their vulnerability to security threats and vandalism,” continues the fact sheet, “and to take steps to ensure protection of the public health of their customers.”

For more information about the drinking water state revolving loan fund and water
system security, write to EPA at 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Mailcode 4606, Washington DC, 20460 or visit their Web site
at www.epa.gov/safewater/dwsrf.html and also visit www.epa.gov/safewater/Pubs/dwsrf.html.