The Environmental Protection Agency on April 15 announced its plan to distribute $600 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for cleanup at 50 Superfund sites across the United States. The EPA says the funding will accelerate the hazardous waste cleanup already underway and fund new cleanup projects at the sites.

Meanwhile, that same day, the Interior Dept. announced that it would distribute $260 million in economic recovery investments through the Bureau of Reclamation for drinking water projects to help address the devastating drought in California. Overall, BuRec will distribute $1 billion in ARRA funds for water project across the United States.

One of the first beneficiaries of the EPA ARRA funds will be the Iron Mountain Mine Superfund site near Redding, Calif., set to receive $10 million to $25 million. Recovery-funded construction activities at site are expected to begin the week of April 13. “In less than a month, the community will see hundreds of additional green jobs and a greatly accelerated cleanup at Iron Mountain Mine due to this infusion of Recovery act funding,” says Laura Yoshii, the EPA’s acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest.

The funding is expected to cut in half the time needed to dredge, treat and dispose of sediment in the Spring Creek Arm of the Keswick Reservoir: 18 months compared to the previously anticipated three years. EPA will use the funding to build pipelines and pump stations to move contaminated sediment from the Spring Creek arm of the Keswick Reservoir to a disposal cell scheduled to begin construction in May 2009.

All of the Superfund sites selected are on the EPA’s National Priorities List. Construction-readiness, potential human and ecological risk and opportunities to reduce project costs and schedules were all factors in selecting which sites will receive ARRA funds. EPA says it will use the funding primarily on existing contracts.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says that of the $1 billion that BuRec will invest in water projects across the country, $260 million will go to California for projects that will expand water supplies, repair aging water infrastructure and attempt to mitigate the effects of the drought there. Salazar says an additional $135 million is available for grants for water reuse and recycling projects.

Some of the investments in California include:

  • $40 million for immediate emergency drought relief in the West, focused on California. These investments will allow for the installation of groundwater wells to boost water supplies to agricultural and urban contractors, the facilitation of the delivery of Federal water to Reclamation contractors through water transfers and exchanges, and the installation of rock barriers in the Sacramento Delta to meet water quality standards during low flows;

  • $109.8 million to build a screened pumping plant at the Red Bluff Diversion Dam to protect fish populations while delivering water to agricultural users irrigating approximately 150,000 acres;

  • $22.3 million to address dam safety concerns at the Folsom Dam near Sacramento, which is currently among the highest risk dams in the country for public safety;

  • $8.5 million to repair water-related infrastructure at Folsom Dam;

  • $20 million for the Contra Costa Canal to protect water supplies for 500,000 Californians and to build fish screens to restore winter-run Chinook salmon and the endangered Delta smelt;

  • $4.5 million to restore the Trinity River and honor the Federal government’s responsibility to the Native American Tribes;

  • $26 million for Battle Creek Salmon/Steelhead Restoration project, which will help restore fisheries that support thousands of jobs in northern California.

  • $4 million to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan for conveyance systems to move Central Valley Project and State Water Project water, habitat restoration and adaptive management;

  • $4 million to broaden scientific knowledge of Klamath River sedimentation for future management decision-making;

  • $20.7 million in smaller water infrastructure and related projects across California.