MWRA’s Local Water System Assistance Program (LWSAP) provides a total of $725 million in interest-free loans to member water communities to perform water system improvement projects. Community loans are repaid to MWRA over a 10-year period. The program's goal is to improve local water system pipeline conditions to help maintain high water quality from MWRA's treatment plant through local pipelines to customers' taps. There have been three Phases of MWRA Community Water Loans:
Allocation of Loan Funds to Member Communities
The LWSAP budget is allocated among 47 member water communities (44 metro-Boston/metro-west water communities and three Chicopee Valley Aqueduct water communities). Please see the links to the tables “LWSAP Allocation and Funding Utilization by Community” which are updated periodically. For communities that are partially served by MWRA, their allocation is prorated based on the percent use of MWRA water. Distribution of Program funds is spread over a multi-year period as noted above. Each community’s annual allocation is restricted to the larger of (1) 10 percent of their total allocation or (2) $500,000. If not utilized in a given year, annual allocations roll-over and accumulate up to the community’s total allocation. The annual allocation restrictions are intended to limit MWRA loan distributions. The Phase 2 LWSAP Loan funds will sunset at the end of FY23.
Eligible Project Costs
The LWSAP Program Guidelines and Application Form are available here (see link at right).
Local projects that rehabilitate water distribution systems, improve water quality, and/or enhance system efficiency are eligible for MWRA financial assistance. All project costs incurred on or after January 1, 2010 will be considered for eligibility in an application under the LWSAP. Communities may utilize 100 percent of their LWSAP funding allocation on water quality based projects, as listed below:
To provide communities with some flexibility with regard to water system rehabilitation needs, additional community projects (known as "tier two" projects) that target water system efficiency are also eligible for LWSAP loan funding. To emphasize the Program's goal of improving water quality, there shall be a direct correlation between the maximum amount of LWSAP funds that may be used for tier two projects and the percentage of lined water main miles in each community. Specifically, the amount of LWSAP funds that may be used for tier two projects shall be restricted to the percent of lined water main miles times the community's total LWSAP allocation. Tier two eligible projects include:
MWRA’s goal in providing financial assistance to member communities is to improve local water systems to help maintain high quality water as it passes from MWRA’s facilities through local pipelines to customers’ taps. Continued improvement of local water systems is a critical element of MWRA’s Integrated Water Supply Improvement Program. Older water mains, particularly those constructed of unlined cast-iron pipe, need to be replaced or cleaned and lined to prevent tuberculation (rust build-up), loss of disinfectant residual and potential bacteria growth. To date, about 26 percent of local distribution systems remain unlined; representing a regional need of about $1.4 billion for future water main rehabilitation. The LWSAP continues the efforts of MWRA’s $30 million pilot distribution system rehabilitation program (FY98-99) and the $222 million Local Pipeline Assistance Program (FY00-13) that have previously provided water system loans to communities.
To ensure pipeline improvements, MWRA annually rehabilitates portions of the regional network of larger pipelines that distribute water to member community systems and provides financial assistance for local water system improvements. At present, the regional water system consists of about 74% lined water pipe. Since 1998, MWRA has provided local communities $486 million in interest-free loans to fund 571 miles (about 8%) of community water main cleaning and lining or water main replacement projects.
Participating Water Communties
MWRA has a total of 52 water communities (with Dedham/Westwood Water District counted as one), of which 47 are allocated loan funds under the Local Water System Assistance Program. The five communities ineligible for LWSAP loan funds are special cases, as follows: Clinton, Leominster (emergency only), and Worcester (emergency only), that receive untreated water from the Wachusett Reservoir; Cambridge, that receives water on an emergency-only basis; and Lynn, that receives water for the GE plant only.
Phase 1 - Local Pipeline Assistance Program is Complete
MWRA's Phase 1-Local Pipeline Assistance Program ("LPAP") was completed in June, 2013, with the distribution of $222 million in interest-free loans to MWRA water communities to perform local water main rehabilitation projects.
Sample Projects that have Received Local Water System Funding
Many local projects that receive MWRA Local Water System Financial Assistance funding include a combination of water, sewer, drain and roadway reconstruction. For these multifaceted projects, water system loan funding is prorated based on the percentage of eligible water system work. A typical pipeline project is shown below.
Many local projects that receive MWRA Local Water System Financial Assistance funding utilize water pipeline cleaning and lining construction technology to cost effectively rehabilitate older cast iron pipe to a condition that will provide decades of additional service life. This construction method does not require an open excavation along the entire length of the pipeline. Instead, small excavation pits are used to access the existing pipe. A typical pipeline rehabilitation cleaning and lining project with temporary water piping is shown below.
Some local projects that receive MWRA Local Water System Financial Assistance funding have employed trenchless construction technology. For example, a project in Milton, MA used pipe bursting and new pipe pull-through to avoid open trench construction impacts to a wetland area.
Some local projects that receive MWRA Local Water System Financial Assistance funding have included the replacement of lead water service lines. In March, 2016, the MWRA Board of Directors approved an enhancement to the Local Water System Assistance Program to provide up to $100 million in 10-year interest-free loans to communities soley for efforts to fully replace lead service lines. See information under the Lead Service Line Replacement Loan Program.
Many local projects that receive MWRA Local Water System Financial Assistance funding have improved water quality issues associated with local water storage tanks. In Canton, MA, the 0.7 million gallon Tolman Street standpipe was demolished and replaced with a new tank and the 0.6 million gallon Ponkapoag standpipe was rehabilitated, as shown below.
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Updated September 10, 2021