Senator Maria Cantwell Announces Veterans Affairs-Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies Funding for Washington State

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash) today announced that the fiscal year 2002 Senate Veterans Affairs-Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies (VA-HUD) bill contains funding for projects in Bellingham, Bremerton, Everett, King County, Renton, Ridgefield, and Spokane.

"The Northwest faces unique challenges in minimizing the effects of urban growth on the environment and endangered species. We have committed considerable state and federal resources to protecting the quality of waterways in urban and rural areas," Cantwell said. "These funds in the Senate VA-HUD bill are tangible steps toward achieving our goals in Washington state."

Washington has invested heavily in stormwater management and has been a leader in basic research and technology development for many years. The Washington Department of Ecology estimates that since 1988, the average annual volume of untreated combined sewer overflow to state waters has decreased from 3.3 billion to 2 billion gallons. However, much more work is needed to prevent discharges that threaten Pacific salmon and the health of residents throughout the Northwest. Cantwell secured funding for several projects that would contribute significantly to improving the wastewater infrastructure in Washington state.

Bellingham Brownfield Revitalization Project - $1 million This funding will assist the City of Bellingham in acquiring property in the "Old Town" district for the revitalization of a brownfield area. This historic area is characterized by deteriorating buildings and infrastructure and vacant and underutilized properties, which together prevent development of commercial and light industrial properties. The "Letter Streets Neighborhood" and Central Business District of the city both contain low- to-moderate income neighborhoods that have been slow to develop because of poor utilization of waterfront properties. The City has developed plans to address these problems by acquiring properties and transforming the Old Town area into a viable link between the downtown and the Whatcom Creek Waterfront area.

Since the city began project discussions with EPA, Washington State Department of Ecology, HUD and other government agencies in 1998, they have received a total of $295,000 in Federal grants and have two pending Federal grant requests, totaling $1,700,000. The project is expected to have significant economic, recreational, and aesthetic paybacks from smart growth in this underutilized area in the city's core.

Bremerton Combined Sewer Overflow - $2 million This funding will help the City of Bremerton to implement its plan for adding combined sewer overflow processing capacity. Bremerton recently completed a pilot study for a "high rate clarification" process at the wastewater treatment plant and is seeking assistance in fully implementing that process. The project is significant in regional efforts to protect pacific coast salmon and other aquatic resources.

Everett Combined Sewer Overflow Removal - $250,000 This funding will help the City of Everett to meet its Clean Water Act obligations. The city has spent approximately $15 million to remove 85 percent of system overflows, and is working to improve its wastewater infrastructure to develop the capacity to handle the remaining amount of excess capacity. The city has performed a feasibility study, which indicates that four on-site treatment facilities could control the remaining combined sewer overflows. These funds will be used to develop the facilities plan for those four sites and perform pre-design work on those facilities.

(Renton) King County Direct Carbonate Fuel Cell Demonstration Project - $500,000 The Fuel Cell Demonstration Facility, located at King County's South wastewater treatment plant in Renton will be the first fuel cell plant of this design and the first such plant to rely solely on "sludge digester gas" generated by a wastewater treatment facility. Fuel cells produce electric power directly through electrochemical reaction using air and fuels such as natural gas, landfill gas, and anaerobic digester gas. This process is energy efficient and cost effective as opposed to the two-step process of conventional combustion technology, which burns fuel and then uses the heat to produce power. This facility will demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of the technology and applicability to other wastewater treatment facilities nationwide. Up to 425 megawatts of electricity could be generated at treatment plants using Direct Fuel Cells, which also eliminate much of the cost of removing CO2. The King County Department of Natural Resources is working with Fuel Cell Energy Inc. (FCE) to demonstrate a 1MW power plant built by FCE, at a total cost of $22.3 million. King County and the FCE will share the cost.

Renton Port Quendall Brownfield Remediation - $1 million This funding will aid the cleanup of the Port Quendall area that is contaminated by post-industrial wastes resulting from coal tar refining that was conducted on the site from 1917-1969. The project cost is expected to total $20 million. Federal funding will supplement funding by the Washington Department of Ecology and City of Renton.

Cantwell also secured funding for the West Central Community Center Childcare Expansion Project which is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This center will respond to the need in Spokane for childcare, health services, and job training. "Eastern Washington has among the highest childcare costs in the state, and one of the highest percentages of individuals at risk to return to welfare this Center will help people to get the help they need to become independent," Cantwell said.

(Spokane) West Central Community Center Childcare Expansion Project - $1 million This funding will advance the construction of the West Central Community Center in Spokane. This project is part of a comprehensive coordinated effort by the City of Seattle and the Spokane Chamber of Commerce in partnership with local health care institutions to expand access to quality, affordable childcare in Spokane. The expansion of the West Central Community Center will respond to critical needs for affordable childcare, health services and job skills training in Spokane. The first two phases of the project, the expansions of the Northeast Community Center and East Central Community Center, have been completed. The third and final phase (West Central) will add health, nutrition and job skills development to its childcare services. The federal funds will supplement $1.2 million already raised for the project from private and state contributions. Funds will be used for costs associated with construction of the facility.