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Funding Assistance

DEFA's quarterly newsletter, The Resource, is distributed to approximately 11,000 contacts made up of local officials interested in DEFA’s financial assistance programs, prior compliance conference and webinar attendees, local health departments, pretreatment contacts, trade associations, economic development contacts, recycling and litter prevention contacts, Ohio Materials Marketplace members and others who have indicated an interest in DEFA’s programs. Check out the newsletter's home page to download entire issues and see articles on other topics.

Spring 2022

H2Ohio Update

In 2019, Governor DeWine launched H2Ohio, a comprehensive water quality initiative that is working to strategically address serious water issues that have been building in Ohio for decades. With these grant funds, Ohio EPA has been tasked with addressing failing drinking water, wastewater, and home sewage treatment systems due to aging infrastructure, and lead contamination from old water pipes and fixtures.

More than $1.2 million in H2Ohio funds have been awarded to two communities in the state to remove and replace the public and private portions of lead drinking water service lines for day cares. Combined, Cincinnati and Cleveland have removed 178 lead lines to date with a goal of 315 lead lines combined.

In the September 2020 news release announcing the H2Ohio award to Cincinnati, the Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) Director Cathy Bailey said, “While GCWW has had a successful lead corrosion control program for years, we know the best way to reduce the risk of lead is to remove the lead lines. H2Ohio funding will allow us to work directly with childcare providers to remove their lead lines and reduce the overall risk of lead. We are thankful and thrilled that this funding will help us positively impact our community for many generations to come!”

As part of his comprehensive strategy to address lead hazards and prevent lead poisoning in Ohio, Governor DeWine announced on March 7, 2022, that his H2Ohio initiative is investing nearly $5 million to locate, remove, and replace toxic lead pipes in various communities throughout the state.

Of the $4.7 million to be awarded through the H2Ohio lead service line replacement grant program, approximately $2 million will go to six communities whose lead pipes are mapped and ready for replacement. These communities include Delphos, Lockland, Norwood, Scio, Sebring, and Hubbard. The removal and replacement projects in these communities will eliminate a total of nearly 500 lead drinking water service lines.

The remaining $2.7 million in grant funds will be awarded to help identify, inventory, and map lead service lines in public water systems that do not have the financial means to properly assess where their lead service lines are located. This funding includes $2.1 million for mini grants, up to $50,000 for individual public water systems and $600,000 for the Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP) and the Ohio Rural Water Association (ORWA) to provide direct identification and mapping assistance to small public water systems. For more information visit epa.ohio.gov/divisions-and-offices/drinking-and-ground-waters/public-water-systems/financial-assistance.

The lead mapping mini-grants and direct assistance through RCAP and ORWA will help communities prepare for design and construction projects replacing lead service lines. Funding for planning, design and construction of lead service line replacement projects is available through the Water Supply Revolving Loan Account (WSLRA) program. Additional funds through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), will be available for WSRLA program year 2023 (July 1 – June 30) including zero percent interest loans and partial principal forgiveness. For more information about WSRLA visit epa.ohio.gov/divisions-and-offices/environmental-financial-assistance/financial-assistance/wsrla.


2021 Annual Report Highlights

2021 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.

In 2021, we reached out to thousands of businesses and communities throughout Ohio to increase the awareness of services and resources available, and we look forward to even greater technical and financial assistance in the coming year. Below are some highlights from 2021.

Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF)

In 2021, Ohio EPA awarded WPCLF loans totaling more than $610 million to Ohio communities. Principal forgiveness (grant-like) funding totaling nearly $11 million was made available to help communities address failing household sewage treatment systems (HSTS). In addition, more than $39 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 2021, Ohio EPA awarded WSRLA loans totaling more than $189 million to help communities address drinking water infrastructure needs. In addition, about $24 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.

H2Ohio: Long-Term, Cost-Effective Water Quality Solutions

H2Ohio is Governor Mike DeWine’s comprehensive, data-driven water quality initiative to reduce harmful algal blooms, improve wastewater infrastructure, and prevent lead contamination. In 2021, more than $9 million in H2Ohio grant funds were awarded to support focus areas of the H2Ohio Initiative including $500,000 awarded to the City of Cleveland to remove lead drinking water service lines serving childcare facilities. Cleveland identifed approximately 450 facilities likely to have lead serice lines. It is expected that the funding will allow Cleveland to offer complete lead service line replacement for participating facilities.

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 21,000 environmental assistance requests from Ohio businesses, communities, and other organizations during 2021. This included assistance completing 1,016 forms, including permit applications and other Ohio EPA paperwork. DEFA hosted 41 webinars covering a variety of topics, including environmental compliance, funding, and reporting. More than 15,000 people participated in DEFA’s webinars or viewed our archived library of training materials during 2021. Popular webinar topics included:

  • Virtual Assistance and Resources from Ohio EPA and Ohio BWC
  • Open Dumping of Solid Waste and Scrap Tires
  • Recycling and Litter Prevention Grant Application Process
  • Environmental Regulations in Your Community

DEFA also continued its series of webinars focused on those environmental issues that have an impact at the local level. These seven webinars occurred throughout the year and cover a wide range of topics from how Ohio EPA regulates sources of air pollution, waste management, wastewater, and stormwater discharges to different ways your community can promote environmental stewardship and improve the environment in your local area.

Ohio EPA’s Virtual Sustainability Conference

Based on the success of our 2020 Virtual Compliance Assistance Conference, Ohio EPA offered its third sustainability conference virtually from Sept. 21 - 23, 2021. More than 1,400 people logged on to eight different sessions and interacted virtually. Sessions had polling to engage the participants and provide opportunities to ask questions. Certificates for continuing education credits were included for each session and all sessions were recorded for customers who could not attend or who wanted to review a session more closely. Conference sessions focused on sustainable solutions being implemented throughout Ohio.

Ohio’s Materials Marketplace: Year Five Accomplishments

In April 2017, Ohio EPA launched the Ohio Materials Marketplace (OMM), a circular economy program that connects businesses, organizations, and entrepreneurs to develop and scale reuse and recycling market opportunities. Through OMM, traditional and non-traditional waste streams are matched with new reuse and recycling opportunities that result in landfill diversion, carbon reduction, cost savings, energy savings, and new job opportunities. This platform aids both public and private sectors in reaching our region’s climate action and equity goals. Ohio businesses, not-for-profits, and government organizations can list available products and materials that would otherwise be destined for disposal in landfills. Additionally, users can post wanted ads for materials that they are seeking.

Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) Program

Ohio EPA’s E3 program recognizes businesses, organizations, and government entities for achievements in environmental stewardship. During 2021, Ohio EPA acknowledged five gold level and six silver level E3 recipients. This was the fifth 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 four organizations recognized at the E3 platinum level.

Encouraging Environmental Excellence in Education (E4) Program

This program recognizes any Ohio K-12 public or private school for its achievements in environmental stewardship and efforts to educate students on environmental topics. The program has three recognition classes: root, branch, and leaf, which are based on how many of the three Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle) each school is incorporating in its curriculum or activities. A total of 14 schools have been recognized for their environmental achievements since 2019.

Encouraging Environmental Excellence in Communities (E3C)

The Encouraging Environmental Excellence in Communities (E3C) program recognized eight communities and community-related organizations were recognized for their environmental stewardship in 2021. The E3C program recognizes any local government or community’s exceptional achievements in environmental stewardship. The E3C program has three levels of recognition that recognize communities in different stages of implementing environmental stewardship initiatives through environmental, economic and social programs and activities: implementation, stewardship, and sustainable. Communities and local governments can apply at any time through a simple online application.

Recycling and Litter Prevention Grant Program

Each year, Ohio EPA's Recycling and Litter Prevention (R&LP) program awards grant funding to support recyling-related activities across Ohio. In 2021, the program awarded more than $ 6 million in grants to support 103 projects throughout the state.

These diverse projects include supporting Ohio communities with their litter prevention activities and supporting local recycling infrastructure needs. The program also supports Ohio businesses looking to expand their recycling capabilities or capacity to recover recycled raw materials/feedstock to put back into their manufacturing processes. Grants also support community tire collection events and tire processing manufacturers to expand their operations and find new markets/uses for scrap tires.

Improving Curbside Recycling

In 2019, Ohio EPA awarded The Recycling Partnership nearly $320,000 to develop and create an anti-contamination education and outreach campaign aimed at improving the quality of curbside recycling that could be replicated throughout the state.

This pilot project was a collaborative effort between six Ohio communities, their local solid waste districts, and recyclers. More than 147,000 households were impacted by this project, resulting in significant curbside recycling contamination reductions. The final product of this nearly three-year project, released in 2021, was a new curbside recycling contamination reduction kit designed to provide steps, tools, and resources to help you improve the quality of your community curbside recycling program. This was not your typical recycling education and outreach campaign. The tools in this kit were developed, tested, and refined in partnership with communities, states, and other organizations across the country; including the Ohio communities that were part of this pilot project.

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 2021 eBlasts and newsletters reached an audience of more than 12,000 subscribers. We distributed 12 monthly DEFA eBlast updates and 98 special eBlasts for DEFA totaling 680,557 in 2021.

We appreciate the support from all our stakeholders and look forward to another busy and productive year in 2022. 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 2021 Annual Report at

Some of the DEFA resources and services available are:

  • Providing environmental and financial assistance to support H2Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine’s comprehensive, data-driven water quality initiative to reduce harmful algal blooms (HABs), improve wastewater infrastructure, and prevent lead contamination.
  • State revolving fund (SRF) loan programs helping 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 helping small community wastewater treatment plants improve operations and efficiency.
  • A compliance assistance program helping 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, recognizing the outstanding efforts of businesses, communities, and other entities making a commitment to environmental stewardship.
  • The Ohio Materials Marketplace, an online tool facilitating the reuse of materials through a collaborative network of businesses, organizations, and entrepreneurs

Winter 2022

Recording of Infrastructure Funding Overview Webinar is now on YouTube

Ohio EPA recently held an infrastructure funding overview webinar. Ohio EPA invited all interested parties to hear about future water and wastewater infrastructure funding in Ohio, including funds being made available from the recent federal infrastructure bill. An historic amount of state and federal funding is now accessible to Ohio utilities, including funds from the state revolving fund programs, the H2Ohio initiative, and the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. In the webinar, Ohio EPA described the current funding framework, and discussed preliminary information available about the federal infrastructure bill related to water and wastewater infrastructure funding.  For questions, please email InfrastructureFunding@epa.ohio.gov.