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New grant program will help small, disadvantaged communities combat contaminants
Iowa DNR heading program after being allocated $18.9 million more through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will create a new grant program for combating emerging contaminants in drinking water in small or disadvantaged communities. Applicable pollutants include per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, — known as PFAS or “forever chemicals” — and other contaminants that aren’t federally regulated yet.
The program will be born from $18.9 million in funding announced Tuesday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency specifically for Iowa’s fight against emerging contaminants. It is part of the $5 billion promised for national contamination solutions by the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
This money is in addition to more than $100 million the law already allocated to Iowa for its drinking water and clean water state revolving funds, including at least $12 million specifically dedicated to emerging contaminants like PFAS. The state’s new grant program for small and disadvantaged communities will be separate from those loan programs.
Corey McCoid, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ PFAS coordinator, said the department has been aware of the possibility of additional funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and signed a letter of intent to show interest. But it didn’t know the full extent of the funding until the EPA’s announcement.
“We knew it was out there, but we didn't really know what it was or what we could use it for,” he said.
The department will be working through the details of its incoming grant program over the next six months, including going through the approval process to actually receive the funding.
The EPA still hasn’t released formal regulations for PFAS in drinking water. Once it does, this money will help fund community efforts to adhere to those regulations and improve drinking water, McCoid said.
“We’ve got so much money coming our way. We don't know quite how to manage it all, but we'll get there,” he said. “That's good news for the state of Iowa.”
Brittney J. Miller is the Energy & Environment Reporter for The Gazette and a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.
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