EPA awards Alabama $52.6 million to eliminate drinking water contaminants

Published 8:04 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $52.6 million to fund public water system projects addressing “emerging contaminants” in Alabama’s drinking water.

In 2020, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) awarded $463 million in grant funding to public drinking water and wastewater systems statewide to address long standing infrastructure needs. The EPA award complements ADEM grants in making clean drinking water and proper sewage disposal more accessible and reliable for Alabamians and will be used specifically for eliminating contaminants in drinking water.

“This is more good news for Alabama as we continue to work to upgrade our water infrastructure,” ADEM Director Lance LeFleur said. “We are grateful to the EPA for recognizing the needs in Alabama, especially in some of our under-resourced communities, and for allocating this significant funding to meet those needs. Alabama is actually receiving more money than some of our sister states with larger populations.”

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On Feb. 13, the EPA announced the award to Alabama of $52,638,000, part of $2 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to address emerging contaminants, like Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in drinking water. The investment will be made available through EPA’s Emerging Contaminants in Small or Disadvantaged Communities (EC-SDC) grants and will promote access to safe, clean water in small, rural, and disadvantaged communities while supporting local economies.

“Too many American communities, especially those that are small, rural, or underserved, are suffering from exposure to PFAS and other harmful contaminants in their drinking water,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan in an EPA press release. “Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, we are investing in America and providing unprecedented resources to strengthen our nation’s water infrastructure while safeguarding people’s health and boosting local economies. These grants build on EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap and will help protect our smallest and most vulnerable communities from these persistent and dangerous chemicals.”

PFAS, a class of manmade chemicals used in water repellents, coatings, and other consumer and commercial products, are found throughout the environment at locations around the world.

For several years, ADEM has tested PFAS in Alabama and since 2020 the agency has required water systems statewide to test for the presence of PFAS in drinking water. PFAS have been linked in studies to health effects in humans and animals.

“Emerging contaminants such as PFAS have been widely detected in Alabama as well as many other parts of the nation,” LeFleur said. “Investments such as these grants will be critical in small and disadvantaged communities as they work to address these contaminants in their water sources.”

As with grants awarded to water and sewer systems in 2022, ADEM will determine areas of greatest need and allocate funds accordingly. The agency is working to identify where the funding is needed and to allocate which communities will receive awards.

For more information about PFAS in Alabama, visit adem.alabama.gov/programs/water/drinkingwater/pfasupdate.cnt.