Dec. 1, 2020
By DEQ Communications Staff
We have all seen that abandoned lot, old gas station and worn down commercial structure driving through our respective towns. These properties may be brownfields — property, including industrial or commercial sites, where future use is affected by real or perceived environmental contamination. This perception can create considerable challenges for communities redeveloping blighted, abandoned, or underutilized properties.
To help communities address these challenges and find solutions to brownfields, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Division of Environmental Response and Remediation (DERR) provides assistance to localities seeking to apply for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Program grants that may be used to assess and clean up sites contaminated by hazardous substances and petroleum.
EPA’s Brownfields Program got its start in 1995 as an administrative reform to its Superfund Program. Since then, the EPA Brownfields Program has been codified in federal law and changed the way communities address and manage contaminated property. Designed to empower states, communities, and other stakeholders in economic redevelopment, Brownfield grants continue to serve as the foundation of EPA’s Brownfields Program and offer a legitimate tool to assess, clean up and redevelop property in Utah.
To make communities aware of these annual funding opportunities, DERR’s Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) and Brownfields Section reaches out to community officials, such as city planners and economic development managers, to educate them on the grant opportunities and help them prepare grant applications. Key to a successful application is a support letter from DEQ.
This year, support letters were issued to the Salt Lake County Brownfields Coalition, which includes Salt Lake City, Murray and other areas of Salt Lake County, Spanish Fork City and Green River. Currently, assessment grants are located in Carbon County, the Uintah Basin, Orem and Salt Lake County.
In the spring, EPA will announce grant recipients nationwide. If awarded the grant money, Utah applicants will be able to use the grant funding to conduct Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments — one of the first steps in cleaning up land and returning the property to a productive use for the community.