Over 60 Idaho communities receive funding to improve water systems

Millions in funding is being distributed to help with projects like removing lead water piping

By: - July 5, 2022 4:25 am

A view of the city of Juliaetta from McGary Grade. (Anteia McCollum/Idaho Capital Sun)

A total of 63 communities across Idaho will receive funding for clean water projects ranging from the evaluation and repair of current water distribution to removing lead water pipes. 

The Idaho Legislature allocated millions of dollars to Gov. Brad Little’s “Leading Idaho” initiative, which uses record surplus funding in the state’s budget to address issues like tax relief, education and water improvement projects. Through the initiative, many long-term water quality improvement projects and the construction of safer water systems around Idaho have received funding. 

“Families, farmers, ranchers, and all Idaho residents rely on clean, efficient water and wastewater systems,” Little said in a press release. “These systems are not only a crucial part of our way of life but our economy as well. Funding for these projects from my Leading Idaho plan aims to ensure that Idaho residents – especially those in our rural communities – can depend on our water and wastewater infrastructure for generations to come.”

Other funds for water improvement projects have also been made available through the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality as loans, grants from the American Rescue Plan Act and other state financial assistance.

Here are a few examples of how the funding will be used:

Water improvement funds from the American Rescue Plan Act

Country Haven Utilities Association Inc. in Blackfoot, Terrace Lakes Water Company in Garden Valley, and the city of Juliaetta were granted by the DEQ nearly $83,000 in funding from the $2 million American Rescue Plan Act. The funding will be used to fund upgrades and evaluate any deficiencies the water systems may have. 

Country Haven and Terrace Lakes will use the funds to determine improvements for drinking water systems, while Julietta will use the funds to improve its wastewater systems. The funds will cover half of the total costs for each project, with the recipient covering the other half. 

Water system improvement loans statewide

The DEQ awarded a nearly $6.9 million low-interest drinking water construction loan to the Kidd Island and Harbor View Joint Sewer Board in Kootenai County to drastically improve the existing water treatment and collection system. The loan funds are to be used for the “design, acquisition, construction, and installation of improvements” as well as any necessary “the acquisition of easements and/or rights-of-way,” according to a press release from the DEQ.

Another $5.3 million loan was approved by the DEQ for “a new duplex intake pump system, including backup power and radio telemetry system; new ultrafiltration membrane water treatment plant; new duplex treated water transfer pumps” and more for the Laclede Water District’s booster station in North Idaho, according to a DEQ press release.

A third sum of $2.7 million was loaned to Grand View in Owyhee County by the DEQ for repairing a well, implementing water testing, installing a water treatment system and improving water distribution systems, according to a DEQ press release.

State revolving fund assistance for water improvement

In May, the DEQ also awarded $37,916 in drinking water construction assistance to Little Blacktail Ranch Water District in Kootenai County in the wake of disconnected water lines after a road washed out. The assistance funding was sourced from the DEQ’s State Revolving Fund, which requires no repayment and is funded by grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to a press release from the DEQ. Another similar grant was awarded by the DEQ to St. Maries to replace lead water piping.

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Anteia McCollum
Anteia McCollum

Anteia McCollum is an intern with the Idaho Capital Sun. She will graduate from a the University of Idaho with a journalism degree in December. She has served as a columnist, reporter, photographer, graphic designer and editor during her time at The Argonaut, the UI student newspaper. She also freelances with Project FARE, a nonprofit focused on telling Idaho's food stories. In 2017, she joined the Idaho Army National Guard as a combat engineer and will complete her contract in December 2023. She's an avid outdoor enthusiast with an interest in environmental reporting as a lifelong career. Her hobbies collide with her line of work, including reading, photography, design and some outside activities like backpacking and wandering around the local farmers market.