Obama Signs Stimulus with $12B for Water Projects

Feb. 17, 2009
Bill includes $2 billion for drinking water, $4 billion for wastewater utilities, $1.4 billion for rural water projects and $4.6 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

President Obama signed into law the economic stimulus bill, also known as the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Feb. 17 in Denver. The total cost of the stimulus bill is approximately $787 billion.

The bill (HR1) contains $2 billion in funding for drinking water infrastructure, $4 billion for wastewater utilities, $1.4 billion for rural drinking water, wastewater and waste disposal projects and $4.6 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for new projects to improve flood protection, navigation, hydropower and the existing water resource infrastructure and completion of current water projects.

"We have begun the essential work of keeping [the American] dream alive," Obama said.

Both the House and Senate approved the bill Feb. 13. Congressional leaders had a goal of getting the bill to Obama by Feb. 16.

The $2 billion allocated for drinking water will be divided among the 50 states and distributed via the state revolving loan fund (SRF) program and allocation formula.

Although details of how to access funding have yet to be announced, officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urge utilities to contact their state SRF officials for information about applying.

Highlights of the bill:
• States will not be required to provide matching funds.
• Project funding priority will be given to projects on a state priority list that are ready to proceed to construction within 12 months of enactment of HR1 (Feb. 17, 2010).
• Each state shall use no less than 50% of its capitalization funds to provide “additional subsidization…in the form of forgiveness of principal, negative interest loans or grants or any combination of these…”
• At least 20% of the funds shall be used for “projects that address green infrastructure, water or energy efficiency improvements or other environmentally innovative activities…” to the extent that there are sufficient eligible project applications.
• Funds may be used to buy, refinance or restructure debt obligations of eligible recipients only when that debt was incurred on or after Oct. 1, 2008.
• EPA may reallocate funds where projects are not under contract or construction within 12 months of enactment.
• No funds may be used to acquire land or a conservation easement for source water protection, to implement source water protection measures or to establish or implement wellhead protection programs.
• EPA (and all other federal agencies receiving stimulus funds) must post its plans for using those funds on www.recovery.gov.

The act also designates $1 billion for water and related resources under the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Allocations include: at least $126 million for water reclamation and reuse projects, $50 million for the Central Utah Project, $50 million for projects under the California Bay – Delta Restoration Act and $60 million for rural water projects, primarily for intake and treatment facilities.

The bill is available at http://thomas.loc.gov/

Source: AWWA Streamlines