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City to receive second EPA grant for wastewater project

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WILLMAR -- Willmar officials have been notified a federal grant has been approved for the city's $86 million wastewater treatment project.

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The Environmental Protection Agency has approved $300,000 for Willmar under the State and Tribal Assistance Grants program. The grants help states, tribes and other entities comply with federal environmental regulations.

After EPA subtracts its administrative fee, the city will receive an estimated $287,000, said Rhonda Rae, program manager for Donohue and Associates, the wastewater project consultant. Rae said the city was pleased by EPA's notification.

This is the city's second wastewater project grant through the program. The first grant, after subtracting EPA's fee, was $477,000.

Besides the State and Tribal Assistance Grants grants, the city received a $500,000 total maximum daily load grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The grant is provided to reduce the amount of pollutants that will be discharged into Hawk Creek and eventually the Minnesota River, Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the project will be financed with a loan from the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority.

City officials are still awaiting word on their application for a $15 million grant that's been authorized but not appropriated by Congress.

Rae said Tuesday that she submitted additional information for the grant last week to the office of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who is a member of the energy and water subcommittee and the interior subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The information, such as the number of jobs created, was requested by the subcommittees.

Rae said the grants will be used to reduce the "balloon payment'' at the end of the project's financing period and eliminate the need to refinance for a larger loan amount.

Word of the grant notification was reported Monday afternoon by City Administrator Michael Schmit and Finance Director Steve Okins to the City Council's Finance Committee.

In other committee business, Schmit and Okins asked members to consider the need to appropriate funds if the council decides to move ahead with recommendations of the Storm Water Task Force.

The task force on May 4 recommended a number of solutions to flooding problems that occur during heavy rain storms.

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