Original Date: 01/22/2001
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Endowment Development
The Coalfield Water Development Fund provides grant assistance for water system construction in coalfield counties to cover monetary requirements excluded from Federal and state funding. To date, 25 water development projects have been initiated to address public health problems related to the quantity and quality of water.
Southwestern Virginia has always been a region rich in the history of coal mining production (coalfields). Like many of the Appalachian districts, the sparsely populated communities were confined to areas near mines or scattered throughout the region in remote rural settings. Although small cities eventually sprung up, they lacked sufficient economic development as needed to establish a healthy tax base for sustaining inclusive public water systems. Many homes used water from drilled earthen wells or captured through rainfall and stored in small private reservoirs. As safe substantial potable water, these sources were at the mercy of nature; susceptible to contamination from mining, farming, and lumbering operations; and could be wiped out by periods of severe drought. Failing septic systems then become a new source of anguish. This region also has limited, naturally occurring surface and groundwater resources. Transporting water was always an option, but hardly an economical solution to health- related issues that coexist with water problems. In 1995, 40 coalfield communities within a seven-county region of Virginia were identified as needing water restored or improved. Estimated costs for this project was $142 million to provide service to 9,000 residences. Additional needs (e.g., septic/sanitation systems) have been identified since that time, adding to the financial requirements.
In 1996, a non-profit charitable organization known as the Coalfield Water Development Fund (CWDF) was developed in conjunction with the Mountain Empire Community College. The Fund provides grant assistance for water system construction in the coalfield counties to cover monetary requirements excluded from Federal and state funding. The grants are awarded from earnings on an endowment and from private contributions. The CWDF’s endowment was initially funded by a $293,000 grant from the EPA. The endowment was further capitalized with $10 million in loan funding, provided at 0% interest for 30 years, from Virginia’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. These assets are invested in a combination of equities and bonds; only earnings from this fund are used. The Board of Directors of the CWDF has raised over $1.3 million in private donations to fund project grants. Local governments as well as public and private water operators are eligible for application. The goals of the Fund are to expedite water development by providing gap financing; encouraging local investments and regional development; and addressing public health problems related to the quantity and quality of water.
As of December 2000, the CWDF awarded 25 project grants which total in excess of $1.9 million with $1.3 million from private sources. The Fund has also leveraged over $14 million through partnerships that have provided improved water conditions for 3,783 residential water users, many of whom had no safe drinking water.
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