Funding for Drinking Water, Sewer Projects Surpasses $1 billion

ADEM continues to award grants, loans, loan forgiveness based on need

by Staff
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MONTGOMERY– Two years after the Alabama Department of Environmental Management
(ADEM) began the process of awarding COVID-19 relief era funding to address critical drinking water and
sewer needs, more than $1.1 billion has been committed to water and sewer systems throughout the
state.
Most of the funding came from the state’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. In
2022, during a special session called by Gov. Kay Ivey, lawmakers approved $225 million from ARPA for
drinking water and sewer projects. In 2023, during another special session called by the governor, the
Legislature approved an additional $400 million.
ADEM supplemented that over the past two years with $251 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure
Law (BIL) passed by Congress in 2021 and more than $279 million in State Revolving Fund (SRF) money
for drinking water and sewer systems. That brought ADEM’s total investment in drinking water and
sewer projects in 2022 and 2023 to more than $1.15 billion.
“The size of the investment the state is placing in these essential services is unprecedented in Alabama
history,” ADEM Director Lance LeFleur said. “The projects we are funding will have a tremendous impact
on the health and quality of life for literally millions of Alabamians. Those impacts will be long-lasting,
benefiting generations of residents, particularly those in disadvantaged and underresourced
communities.”
The approach ADEM took from the start in awarding funding – in the forms of grants, low-interest loans
and loan forgiveness – is based on need, where those systems and communities with the greatest needs
are priorities.
In 2022 alone, ADEM awarded $463 million to 181 systems – 105 drinking water systems and 76 clean
water (sewer) systems. Of that total, the majority of the funding went to disadvantaged communities,
including $157 million for 53 projects in Alabama’s Black Belt region. Those communities have long been
hampered by failing or inadequate drinking water or sewer services. Working with partners, ADEM
funded demonstration projects in Lowndes and Hale counties to address sewer problems associated
with dense soil that renders regular septic systems ineffective and sparse populations that make
conventional public sewer system connections impractical.
“In our first year, we were able to make funding available to communities in 63 of Alabama’s 67
counties,” LeFleur said. “In 2023, ADEM awarded an additional $682 million, making sure to fund
projects in the four counties that did not receive funding the previous year. Every county in the state will
see the benefit of this initiative.”
To date, ADEM has approved funding for more than 500 projects.
LeFleur pointed out that despite the unprecedented investment in drinking water and sewer
infrastructure, there still are tremendous needs that far exceed available funding. ADEM has received
applications for 757 projects from 535 of the state’s 1,061 drinking water and sewer systems requesting
more than $3.4 billion in funding.
“We will continue to evaluate projects based on need,” LeFleur said, noting that a focus must remain on
assisting disadvantaged and marginalized areas. “The goal is the same – improving the health and safety
of residents by helping bring safe, reliable drinking water and sanitary wastewater services to those in
need.”
ADEM will also continue to partner with various state, federal and local agencies as well as community
groups to identify and fund needs, as well as assist drinking water and sewer systems in applying and
qualifying for funding.
“We are taking a long view of this,” LeFleur said. “Even after all the ARPA and BIL money is gone, we will
continue to provide funding to drinking water and sewer projects through our State Revolving Fund and
looking for creative ways to meet needs. We are 100 percent committed to improving the lives of
people now and in the future.”
For more information about water and sewer grant applications and awards, go to ADEM’s website,
www.adem.alabama.gov, and click on the “ARPA/SRF Updates” button.

Media Release/ADEM

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