Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Shari Meghreblian announced that four communities have been approved to receive approximately $16.7 million in low-interest loans for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements.

The loans announced Wednesday include funds for Hamilton County, the City of Springfield, the Ocoee Utility District, and the Smith Utility District.

"Abundant, clean water is essential to the quality of life in Tennessee, and we are pleased to make these low-interest loans available to communities with infrastructure needs," Haslam said. "This program helps communities in ways that will benefit citizens for generations to come."

Tennessee's Clean Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program has awarded more than $2 billion in low-interest loans since its inception in 1987. Tennessee's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program has awarded more than $308.55 million in low-interest loans since its inception in 1996.

"These programs have helped communities make updates they need, and we are glad the loans can assist," Meghreblian said. "Clean water is a vitally important resource, and this loan program has proved valuable in making much-needed improvements."

Through the State Revolving Fund Program, communities, utility districts, and water and wastewater authorities can obtain loans with lower interest rates than most can obtain through private financing. Interest rates for loans can vary from zero percent to market rate based on each community's economic index. Loans utilizing EPA grant funds can also include a principal forgiveness component.

The Department of Environment and Conservation administers the State Revolving Fund Program in conjunction with the Tennessee Local Development Authority. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides grants to fund the program, and the state provides a 20 percent match. Loan repayments are returned to the program and are used to fund future SRF loans.

The funding order of projects is determined by the SRF program's priority ranking lists that rank potential projects according to the severity of the pollution and/or compliance problems or for the protection of public health.

Clean water loans are announced for the following recipients:

Hamilton County Wastewater Treatment Authority (Hamilton County) – Hamilton County Wastewater Treatment Authority will receive two loans totaling $5,474,000 for rehabilitation of the collection system in the Lookout Mountain area. The first loan is for $3 million with federal funding in the amount of $2,700,000 and an additional $300,000 in principal forgiveness that will not have to be repaid. A $3 million cap applies to the federal funding in the clean water loan program. A companion loan is funded from the State Revolving Fund at $2,474,000. Both loans have a 20-year repayment period at an interest rate of 2.35 percent.

City of Springfield (Robertson County) – The City of Springfield will receive a loan in the amount of $7,500,000 for collection system replacement, infiltration/inflow correction, and construction of two wastewater storage tanks. The project is funded from the State Revolving Fund with a 20-year repayment period and an interest rate of 1.30 percent.

Drinking water loans are announced for the following recipients:

Ocoee Utility District (Bradley/Polk counties) – The Ocoee Utility District will receive two loans totaling $2,799,300 for a new water storage tank and water line replacements. The first loan is for $1 million with federal funding in the amount of $800,000 and an additional $200,000 in principal forgiveness that will not have to be repaid. A $1 million cap applies to the federal funding in the drinking water loan program. A companion loan is funded from the State Revolving Fund at $1,799,300. Both loans have a 20-year repayment period at an interest rate of 1.48 percent.

Smith Utility District (Smith County) – The Smith Utility District will receive a loan in the amount of $933,000 for a new water storage tank. The project will be federally funded in the amount of $746,400 with an additional $186,600 in principal forgiveness that will not have to be repaid. The loan has a 20-year repayment period at an interest rate of 0.79 percent.