2019 marked another successful year of enhanced services to Ohio’s businesses and communities through Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance (DEFA). Through our team’s efforts, we surpassed prior years of assistance and service to our customers. DEFA serves as a one-stop shop for customers seeking technical and financial resources to help them achieve compliance.
Below are some of the resources and services available:
- State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan programs to help communities construct and maintain wastewater and drinking water infrastructure.
- Funding to help communities address water quality issues from combined sewer overflows, failing home sewage treatment systems, nutrients, and lead.
- Technical assistance to help small community wastewater treatment plants improve operations and efficiency.
- Compliance assistance program to help small businesses with environmental regulations through on-site visits, help completing applications and forms, training, and plain-English publications.
- Funding to support recycling, litter cleanup, scrap tire management, and market development for recyclables such as glass, plastics, rubber, and construction and demolition debris.
- The Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) program, which recognizes the outstanding efforts of businesses, communities, schools and other entities making a commitment to environmental stewardship.
- The Ohio Materials Marketplace (OMM), an online tool to facilitate the reuse of materials through a collaborative network of businesses, organizations, and entrepreneurs.
In 2019, we reached out to hundreds of businesses and communities throughout Ohio to increase the awareness of services and resources available through DEFA, and we look forward to even greater technical and financial assistance in the coming year.
Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) - In 2019, Ohio EPA awarded WPCLF loans totaling more than $542 million to Ohio communities. Principal forgiveness (grant-like) funding totaling approximately $10 million was made available to help communities address failing household sewage treatment systems (HSTS). In addition, close to $22 million in principal forgiveness was made available to provide collection capacity in unsewered areas and address other infrastructure priorities, particularly in economically disadvantaged and small communities.
Water Supply Revolving Loan Account (WSRLA) Program – In 2019, Ohio EPA awarded WSRLA loans totaling close to $109 million to help communities address drinking water infrastructure needs. In addition, about $21 million in principal forgiveness funding was made available to help small, disadvantaged communities.
Addressing Statewide Priorities through Ohio’s SRF Programs – Ohio EPA leverages financial resources through our SRF and grant programs to address some of the state’s most significant water quality challenges, including harmful algal blooms (HABs), failing household septic systems, lead, and combined sewer overflows. Working in partnership with other public funding partners, providing incentives for innovative approaches, and offering flexible financing terms have been effective strategies to help our communities in addressing these challenges.
Helping Small Wastewater Systems – During 2019, the wastewater Compliance Assistance Unit (CAU) added staff who now work directly from locations in two of Ohio EPA’s district offices, Bowling Green and Logan, helping increase our assistance to customers throughout Ohio. Also in 2019, CAU kicked-off another round of wastewater treatment system training opportunities with a regional significant non-compliance (SNC) workshop in Northwest Ohio (Bellevue).
Helping Businesses with Environmental Regulations and Permitting – DEFA’s Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) provides free and confidential assistance to help businesses comply with environmental requirements. OCAPP responded to more than 12,500 environmental assistance requests from Ohio businesses, communities, and other organizations during 2019. This includes 166 site visits and assistance in completing 952 forms, including permit applications and other Ohio EPA paperwork. OCAPP staff participated in 63 presentations and training events, reaching more than 2,900 people with information on a variety of environmental compliance topics. DEFA hosted 20 webinars covering a variety of topics, including environmental compliance, funding, and reporting. More than 4,000 people participated in DEFA’s webinars or viewed our archived library of training materials during 2019. Popular webinar topics included:
- Air Services Overview
- Waste Generator Improvement Rules
- Recycling and Litter Prevention Grant Application Process
- Ohio’s Materials Marketplace
Ohio EPA’s Second Sustainability Conference – Ohio EPA held its second Sustainability Conference in Columbus in April 2019, with more than 200 attendees. A mix of Ohio EPA staff and business representatives presented conference sessions. Ohio EPA Director Laurie Stevenson provided the keynote address and recognized Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) Silver, Gold, and Platinum Level recipients.
Ohio’s Materials Marketplace: Year Two Accomplishments – In April 2017, Ohio EPA launched the Ohio Materials Marketplace (OMM), a free online platform connecting businesses to recycling and reuse solutions for their waste and by-product challenges. Ohio businesses, not-for-profits, and government organizations can now list available products and materials that would otherwise be destined for disposal in landfills. Ohio EPA manages and markets OMM with help from the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development, the Ohio By-Product Synergy Network, and Ohio’s solid waste management districts. To date, more than 1,000 members have joined OMM and 3.77 million pounds of materials have been exchanged for reuse and diverted from landfills, saving members more than $222,000. Five OCAPP staff became zero waste certified advisors to support these and other sustainable materials management efforts.
Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) Program – Ohio EPA’s E3 Program recognizes businesses, organizations and government entities for achievements in environmental stewardship. During 2019, Ohio EPA acknowledged five Gold Level, two Silver Level, and three Achievement Level E3 recipients. This was the third year Ohio EPA recognized organizations at the Platinum Level for their efforts to expand their environmental sustainability programs beyond their own facility to make a positive impact on their surrounding community with one organization recognized at the E3 Platinum Level. Ohio EPA introduced the Encouraging Environmental Excellence in Education (E4) program at Newark schools as part of an Earth Day celebration with Governor Mike DeWine. The E4 program recognizes any K-12 public or private school for its achievements in environmental stewardship and efforts to educate students on environmental topics.
Funding Support for Recycling and Litter Prevention – Each year, Ohio EPA's Recycling and Litter Prevention (R&LP) Program awards grant funding to support recycling-related activities across Ohio. In 2019, the program awarded more than $ 4 million in grants to support 66 projects throughout the state.
Reaching Our Customers Electronically – DEFA’s outreach efforts include monthly eBlasts, a quarterly newsletter, and blog posts. Our eBlasts contain information on upcoming regulatory changes, funding opportunities, training, and other resources. DEFA’s quarterly newsletters contain more detailed updates and a range of articles related to environmental compliance, water, and wastewater infrastructure development, and sustainability efforts. Our 2019 eBlasts and newsletters reached an audience of more than 18,000 subscribers.
Looking Forward – In 2020, DEFA continues to focus on proactive outreach efforts to ensure that our customers, Ohio’s businesses and communities, are aware of the many resources available to help meet their environmental and financial assistance-related goals.
We appreciate the support from all our stakeholders and look forward to another busy and productive year in 2020. If you have any questions or need more information about our services, contact us at (614) 644-3469 or visit our website at epa.ohio.gov/defa/. You can access our DEFA 2019 Annual Report at: https://www.epa.ohio.gov/Portals/29/documents/2019AnnualReport.pdf.