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Federal law supplies more than $119 million in water infrastructure upgrades for Missouri

A pipe that has water
Luis Tosta
Stormwater infrastructure is crucial to managing floods.

Earlier this year, President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allotted more than $119 million for drinking water and clean water infrastructure updates in Missouri.

Water infrastructure is aging in the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency says old pipes, broken or made of lead, need major upgrades.

But besides the pipes that carry drinking water and wastewater, stormwater infrastructure is crucial to managing floods.

Approximately half of the federal funding will be available as grants or principal forgiveness loans.

“State Revolving Funds make water protection and progress possible for cities of all sizes,” EPA Region 7 Administrator Meghan A. McCollister said in a press release.

The Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds use a revolving loan structure to provide low-cost financing for projects across the country. Missouri is receiving $237 million of those revolving funds to treat emerging contaminants like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS.

PFAS were discovered in the Columbia water supply for the first time this year, according to reporting from KOMU and the Columbia Missourian. They’re considered “forever chemicals” because they cannot break down naturally in the environment.

PFAS are chemicals that have been used since the 1940s. They’re in industry and consumer products and have been found in the bloodstreams of people and animals across the globe, according to the EPA.

Last year, New Orleans Public Radio reported that PFAS has also been discovered along the Mississippi River. Levels reached high levels in some areas, with one test revealing 26,000% more PFAS in the water than the EPA’s newest guidelines.

PFAS have been linked to increased risk of cancer, immune system depletion, developmental challenges, reproductive effects, and weight challenges.

“This funding will help Missouri fund community improvements to outdated drinking water and wastewater systems serving our citizens,” Governor Mike Parson said in a press release.

The EPA has proposed rules to limit the amount of PFAS in drinking water and designate nine PFAS as hazardous constituents.

Laine Cibulskis is a second-year student at the University of Missouri studying journalism and economics with an emphasis on data and investigative reporting.
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