Maryland is likely to lose about $100 million in federal water pollution controls funds allocated to the state unless it speeds it applications for the money, the U.S. Enviornmental Protection Agency warns.
EPA officials said Friday that the District of Columbia and six other states also stand to lose million of dollars to build sewage treatment facilities unless they pick up the pace in applying for grants under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
EPA officials project that at their current of applying for funds only reserved to them until Sept. 30, Maryland is likely to lose $100 million of $297 million of the water pollution control money designated for it, and the District is expected to lose $15 million of $72 million designated for this city. Virginia is expected to have applied in time for its full $252 million allotment.
The state of New York could be the biggest loser. EPA officials estimate that at its current rate New York will not have applied in time for $300 million of $1 billion in federal water pollution control funds allocated to it.
The other states that EPA says are running behind in applying for federal funding of 75 per cent of the cost of their sewage treatment facilities and sewer lines are: Pennsylvania, now projected to lose $100 million of its $498 million allocation; Connecticut, in danger of losing $70 million of $155 million; Massachusetts, facing the loss of $50 million of $295 million; Michigan, $50 million of $69$50 million of $295 million, Michigan, $50 million of $625 million threatened, and Delaware, $15 of $56 million in jeopardy.
The EPA officials said that the other 47 states and territories either are on schedule or ahead of schedule in applying for the federal funds available to them under the 1972 act.
John T. Rhett, EPA's national program manager for construction grants, stressed that the tardy states can still avail themselves of all the federal funds to which they are entitled, but in order to do they must have all their applications to EPA by June 30, allowing the federal agency 90 days to process them.
Any funds not allocated by the Sept. 30 deadline will be divided proportionately among the states that had their quota of applications in on time, a costly potential penalty for Maryland, the District and the other slow jurisdictions.
Since 1972, the federal government has obligated $11.9 billion and actually paid $4.2 billion to states and local jurisdictions under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
There is $18.4 billion allocated to the program, leaving a massive $6.5 billion that must be applied for and approved by the Sept. 30 deadline. Such a large share of the funds remains to be allocated partly because the expenditures had been cut in half through impoundment by President Nixon, a move later reversed by President Ford.
The grant applications, which range in size to projects of less than $1 million to those of over $100 million, involve an immense amount of paperwork at the local, state and federal level.
Rhett says EPA has 920 employees around the country involved in processing the applications and will need at least 100 more to handle what is expected to be a late rush of applications.
EPA says that as of a month ago 77 per cent of the $297 million in federal water pollution control funds authorized for Maryland had not been obligated.
Maryland Lt. Gov. Blair Lee, III said that the main problem for his state is EPA's rejection of the proposed sewage treatment plant at Dickerson on the Potomac River above Washington, which would have made use of about $76 million of the federal money.
Maryland is now suing to have EPA's decision overturned, but Lee said any court action won't be in time to have a revived Dickerson facility approved before the Sept. 30 deadline.
'We are hustling," the lieutenant governor said in stressing that the state is well aware that it needs to move fast to submit other wate pollution control projects to EPA in order not to lose millions in federal funds.
The District at the end of 1976 still had 37 per cent of its authorized $72.4 million in federal water pollution control funds unobligated. William A. Whittington, another EPA official, said the District simply has official, said the District simply has applied for everything to which it is entitled.
Virginia was reported at the end of December to have only 19 per cent of its authorized $251.8 million in federal water pollution funds still unobligated to it.
The state of New York faces the largest potential loss of federal monies because New York City was unable to afford its 25 per cent share in order to obtain about $300 million in federal funds, Whittington said. The New York congressional delegation has introduced a bill to extend the deadline for funds applications from Sept. 30 or an additional year.
Whittington said there is no doubt that the full $18.4 billion in federal water pollution control funds porvided for in the 1972 act will be spent. It just remains to be seen which states and cities will act fast enough to get their full share.