State Department of Environmental Quality and Energy Office Offer Flood-Related Support in Numerous Areas
There are numerous ongoing efforts involving the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) and the Nebraska Energy Office (NEO) as flood recovery efforts continue. Among these efforts are:
New 0% Loans for Interim Drinking Water and Wastewater Projects
NDEQ is informing communities that there will be interim 0% loans available from the state to assist in projects to restore their flood-impacted drinking water and wastewater facilities.
Although most of these projects are expected to ultimately be funded through grants from other sources, there can be a multi-year gap between the time a community is approved for disaster reimbursement and the time they may receive this reimbursement. To assist communities during that multi-year gap, NDEQ can offer them 0% interim loans through the state’s State Revolving Loan Funds.
NDEQ staff can assist communities in determining their best financial options. In the long term, the vast majority of the money distributed through the 0% Wastewater and Drinking Water Interim Loan Program will be recovered by the state’s State Revolving Funds. These funds will then be reallocated to other community drinking water and wastewater loan needs. For more information, call (402) 471-4200.
Dollar and Energy Saving Loans at 1%
On April 5, 2019, the Nebraska Energy Office, in conjunction with Nebraska lending institutions, began providing assistance to those affected by floods, by offering Dollar and Energy Saving Loans at 1% interest (subject to lender approval)*.
On April 16 the Energy Office opened this ultra-low interest loan offering to all Nebraskans to make energy efficient home and farm improvements such as:
- Heating, cooling, and water heater equipment replacement
- Irrigation system, grain dryers and other farm efficiency improvements
- Foundation walls repaired or replaced and insulated
More information can be found in the Loan Factsheet at: http://www.neo.ne.gov/loan/LoanProgramAssistFactsheet.pdf.
The 1% loan offer will be effective until July 1, 2019 or as funds are available.
Free home weatherization services are available through the Energy Office Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which is administered in conjunction with Local Regional Service Providers. Furnaces and/or air-conditioning systems, as well as other energy conservation projects, may qualify for free replacement for individuals with annual household incomes that are less than 200% of the federal poverty level. The program pays for weatherization assistance up to $5,000.
Those interested in applying for free weatherization should contact their Local Regional Service Provider which is listed in the Low Income Weatherization Factsheet at: http://www.neo.ne.gov/loan/WXFloodAssistFactsheet.pdf
Free Well Testing in Multiple Locations
The flooding also compromised many private wells. NDEQ partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services in late March and early April to offer free well testing in nine communities. Well owners provided samples of their water, which were tested for total coliform and E. coli.
A total of 786 samples were collected. Overall, 26% of these samples tested positive for coliform. Of that 26%, 33% also tested positive for E. coli.
NDEQ and DHHS provide guidance for those with compromised wells at http://deq.ne.gov/Press.nsf/pages/news040119, which includes a list of licensed water well professionals. More information is also available at https://flood.unl.edu/.
Continued Oversight and Support in Multiple Areas
NDEQ continues to provide oversight and support in multiple areas. If you have questions regarding these issues, contact our NDEQ hotline at 1-877-253-2603, or visit our website at deq.ne.gov.
Among the areas that continue to have NDEQ involvement:
Waste Debris Management – Staff have assisted in identifying and arranging for the removal of livestock carcasses (see related news release) the identification, collection and disposal of orphan hazardous containers (see relate news release) and providing the public guidance and outreach for debris removal.
Wastewater Treatment Facilities – Staff have worked with wastewater treatment facilities on timelines to resume normal operations. Most have returned to normal operation as of April 25, but ongoing work continues at three locations – City of Omaha Papillion Creek, Plattsmouth, and Nebraska City.
Public Water Supply Systems -- Staff have provided technical assistance to Public Water Supplies compromised by flooding, and are coordinating with PWS owners/operators to develop timelines for restoring service. Most have returned to normal operation as of April 25, but currently five community PWS and 13 non-community PWS with primary sources are still off-line.
Livestock Facilities – Staff have worked with livestock facilities on timelines to resume normal operations. As of April 25, only two locations continue to have ongoing repair work due to extensive structural damage.