Department of Ecology News Release - July 1, 2021

Awarding $312 million to communities for clean water projects

108 projects across the state will help improve water quality

Replacing leaking septic systems helps protect local water. With additional funding, Ecology is expanding its Regional On-site Sewage System Loan Program statewide.


The Department of Ecology is awarding $312 million in grants and loans that could support more than 3,000 jobs and improve water quality for communities across the state.

The money will fund 108 high-priority clean water projects that will upgrade wastewater treatment systems and sewer systems, better manage polluted stormwater, and prevent and clean up pollution from diffuse sources.

“Support from the legislature for these clean water projects is direct support for Washington communities,” said Vince McGowan, Ecology’s Water Quality Program Manager. “Local governments and organizations are essential partners in clean water because they do the on-the-ground work to protect and restore clean water every day.”

Nearly 90% of Ecology’s water quality funding is given to local communities for environmental projects. Money comes from a mix of state and federal funds. State financial managers calculate that every $1 million spent on building clean water infrastructure creates 11 direct and indirect jobs in Washington.

When evaluating and awarding funding, Ecology separates projects into three categories, based on the type of pollution they reduce: wastewater from treatment plants, surface runoff from rain, and nonpoint pollution which is runoff or other pollution from a variety of sources. 

Of the $312 million being awarded:

  • $239 million in grants, forgivable loans, and low-interest loans will help fund 28 wastewater projects
  • $42 million in grants and low-interest loans will help pay for 46 stormwater projects
  • $30 million in grants, forgivable, and low-interest loans will help fund 34 nonpoint projects

Project Highlights

Expansion of the Regional On-site Sewage System Loan Program

This successful program will now cover all 39 Washington counties, up from 21. The program provides financing for repairing and replacing on-site septic systems through a nonprofit lender, Craft3. This partnership between Ecology, state Department of Health, local counties and health departments, and Craft3 has completed 1,096 projects costing approximately $25.3 million, with 40% of the funding going to low-income owners. Each year, repaired and replaced septic systems treat an estimated 145 million gallons of wastewater that would have otherwise polluted surface and groundwater.

South Fork Nooksack River restoration by Lummi Nation

Canoe on the bank of a clear tree lined river

The South Fork Nooksack River will see a number of upgrades thanks to the work of the Lummi Indian Business Council. 

The Lummi Indian Business Council of Lummi Nation will use a $490,208 grant to construct new habitat (29 engineered logjams) and protect temperature by planting up to 20 riparian acres along the main-stem South Fork Nooksack River. The goal of this project is to restore natural processes and increase habitat complexity for endangered salmonids, while improving late summer water flow and reducing water temperature.

Improving the Dryden wastewater treatment facility

Chelan County Public Utilities District is set to receive a $2.5 million grant and a $1 million low interest loan to design and build improvements to the town of Dryden’s wastewater treatment facility. The improvements will benefit the Wenatchee River by reducing the amount of phosphorus entering the river.

For more information, including an interactive map of funded projects, please visit the Water Quality Combined Funding Program Funding Cycles webpage

Contact information

Colleen Keltz
Twitter: ecologywa