Hurricane Harvey

Harvey-Damaged Water Systems To Receive Emergency Aid from Loan Program

“Our hope was to give those folks an opportunity and resources to get the work started right away.”

Houston’s Turkey Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is seen during flooding from Harvey on September 5, 2017. It was still shut down as of September 12, 2017.

Texas is set to receive faster aid for water systems hit by Harvey, with the Environmental Protection Agency agreeing to speed up funding for water infrastructure repairs.

State environmental regulators said Tuesday that 20 drinking water systems and 31 wastewater systems were still shut down from Harvey.

In the Houston area, that’s led to potentially-dangerous bacteria levels in floodwaters.

Federal disaster aid is on the way, but in the meantime, the Texas Water Development Board has worked out a deal with the EPA to get federally-funded loans to cities for emergency repairs.

“Our hope was to give those folks an opportunity and resources to get the work started right away, and then ideally when they do get federal aid money a little further down the line, they can take that and pay off the loan,” says Bech Brunn, the water board’s chairman.

In the wake of Harvey, Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt supporting the water board’s request for assistance. Brunn says some of the expedited loans could also go to jump starting work on longer-term water infrastructure projects.

“The City of Houston will be considering larger-scale flood control projects moving forward, and we can fund those types of projects as well,” he says.

The water board is making sure its plan won’t make cities ineligible for separate FEMA aid down the road, but once that’s resolved, the board says it will start taking applications for the emergency loans.

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Travis Bubenik

Travis Bubenik

Energy & Environment Reporter

Travis Bubenik reports on the tangled intersections of energy and the environment in Houston and across Texas. A Houston native and proud Longhorn, he returned to the Bayou City after serving as the Morning Edition Host & Reporter for Marfa Public Radio in Far West Texas. Bubenik was previously the...

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