TN moving to use $30.4M in unspent fed water funds

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) ā€” Tennessee environmental officials say they’ve taken steps to utilize millions of dollars of unspent funds from a federal aid program for improving the nation’s drinking water systems.

A review by The Associated Press shows project delays, poor management by some states and structural problems have contributed to nearly $1.1 billion in congressional appropriations sitting unspent in Drinking Water State Revolving Fund accounts as of Aug. 1.

The backlog is smaller than it once was, but federal data show that many states are not on track to meet a goal set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which wants any money dating back to 2013 to be spent by next year.

Tennessee received $194.2 million in federal funding as of fiscal 2015 from the federal fund, according to the AP review. Of that total, $30.4 million remained unspent.

However, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation spokesman Eric Ward said after several discussions with EPA personnel, TDEC has implemented a new “spending strategy” that he says has resulted in “significant improvements in the pace of spending.”

“Although we have more work to accomplish, we are continuing to improve our position with this … strategy and anticipate additional significant reductions to unliquidated obligations in the coming year,” Ward said.