Exciting Times at the Environmental Facilities Corporation

The Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) is an umbrella organization under New York State that seeks to provide “ low cost capital and expert technical assistant for environmental projects in New York State”.  This is done by assisting public and private entities with the necessary resources they need to meet environmental standards through a series of programs. It also administers the largest and most successful State Revolving loan fund in the nation, managing more than $12 billion in assets.

Under the leadership of EFC President Sabrina Ty, they’re doing some really interesting and innovative things so we wanted to profile their efforts. For example, instead of forcing municipalities to reapply for grants every cycle, a needlessly demoralizing process for cash-strapped towns, the EFC has started informing them that they are rolling over their applications for the next funding cycle. The EFC is working diligently to ensure that every part of the state in need of clean water infrastructure gets the help it needs.

There are several programs that range in scope, infrastructure, and assistance level.  Our attention will be focused on the State Revolving Fund (SRF) Sustainability Initiative, which includes the Clean Water SRF and the Drinking Water SRF.

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund

The CWSRF is a fund that is administered by the EFC & NYSDEC.  This program provides low-interest loans to municipalities that are in dire need of assistance to complete, upgrade, or construct new forms of water quality protection projects.  Such projects include sewers, wastewater treatment plants, and stormwater management projects.   Areas in national estuaries are able to apply for this as well, in order to complete habitat restoration and protection projects.

The perk of this program is that the when the loan is repaid, it is immediately available for new loans – proving to be a revolving fund.  Interest rates remain low, with the potential of being zero percent in areas experiencing extreme hardship.  This fund has provided over $14 billion in low interest funding in the last 25 years.

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund

The DWSRF is administered by the EFC and State DOH, and has provided over $331 in grants to disadvantaged communities, and $4.7 billion in low-cost loans over the last 20 years.  The purpose of this program is to provide financial incentives to the public and private water systems for needed infrastructure improvements ranging from treatment plants, distribution lines, and storage facilities.  It also provides for low-interest loans, and grant funding for the construction.  Similarly to the CWSRF, this is a revolving fund, with an exception that in severe financial hardship, grants through the FSDWA may be available.

The DOH will manage the technical review of DWSRF projects to regulate the safety and adequacy of the drinking water that will be delivered by the public systems established in NYS.

Green Innovation Grant

The Green Innovation Grant Program aims to support projects throughout the state specializing with green infrastructure and other stormwater infrastructure design, creating “cutting-edge” green technologies.  Previous projects range in location from Buffalo to the tip of Long Island incorporating rain gardens or stream “daylighting” projects.

The projects that are usually funded serve to protect and improve water quality; spur innovation in stormwater management, building capacity and inspire others to build using green infrastructure; and facilitate the transfer of new technologies or practices throughout the state.

This program spurs economic growth by creating green jobs, and increasing property values.  There are also several benefits that also provide better aesthetics and improve public health by increasing the walkability of the community; improving air quality; absorbing carbon dioxide; creating more natural habitats; and reducing the “heat island effect”.

Other programs under the EFC: