Homer receives EPA award for seawall project

The award program recognizes ‘exceptional projects’ funded by the federal-state Drinking Water State Revolving Fund

The City of Homer has been selected to receive an award for Excellence in Climate Change Mitigation and Resiliency from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund AQUARIUS Recognition Program. The award has been granted for the city’s recent work to reinforce the Homer seawall.

The seawall was originally constructed in 2003 to help protect properties and infrastructure along the Homer coast from erosion. According to City of Homer Special Projects and Communications Coordinator Jenny Carroll, Homer has experienced accelerated erosion along the coastline and the bluff, with erosion rates averaging about 3.5 feet per year.

The seawall has periodically required major repair and revamping over the years since its construction. In 2021, the city installed Armor Rock to add support to the existing wall. The project was supported in part by a state and federal partnership through the EPA Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which “finances the construction and rehabilitation of critical drinking water infrastructure, along with public health-focused programs and activities” nationwide, according to the EPA website.

It was the Armor Rock project for which the Alaska State Revolving Fund program nominated Homer for the EPA AQUARIUS award.

“The main impetus for that (project) for the city was to protect utility infrastructure that runs in the land behind the seawall,” Carroll said. “It was about protecting our water mains and enhancing erosion protection, which provided protection to wastewater infrastructure in that area as well.”

According to the city manager’s report for the March 11 city council meeting, the Excellence in Climate Change Mitigation and Resiliency award category is “new as of this year’s award cycle, and (Homer) will be the first winners.”

Awardees will be recognized at the Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities Summit in Washington, D.C., on April 3.

CIFA is a national not-for-profit organization for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. The CIFA Summit on Water Infrastructure “convenes leaders of the SRF community, including SRF managers, federal partners, public finance experts and water policy advocates, to engage in a national conversation on the future of funding and financing for water infrastructure,” their website states.

The City of Homer has provided a video for the awards ceremony in lieu of in-person attendance.

“The city wants to thank and acknowledge the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, not only for recognizing this project and nominating it, but for all the work that they have done with the city to support our clean water projects over time. They’ve been a great partner,” Carroll said.

More information about the EPA Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and AQUARIUS program can be found at www.epa.gov/dwsrf/aquarius-recognition-program.