Stimulus Package To Hit Sewer/Water Fast

Significant Leeway From Usual Restrictions Make Monies More Accessible
By Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor | March 2009 Vol. 64 No. 3
Water projects should increase with the latest federal stimulus package.

Nonetheless, Bornino thinks that smaller, rural towns will have a hard time getting an application together in time to meet even Ohio’s extended priority list deadline if they have never submitted an application for a given project before. They will be hard pressed to afford the consultants who do the engineering and environmental studies necessary for NEPA approval. Congress had considered adding language to the stimulus bill easing NEPA requirements; but a Senate amendment on that score fell to a voice vote.

One funding hopeful in Colorado is Gene Michael, director of the Pueblo (Colo.) Wastewater Department. He has applied to the state SRF in past years for a $22.2 million loan. But the money was never forthcoming because Pueblo is neither a small town with a population of under 10,000 nor a town with a wastewater non compliance issue. Those are the two top criteria Colorado uses in awarding SRF loans. The Pueblo project was one of four cited by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as a “shovel ready” wastewater project which could be “green lighted” if Congress passed the stimulus package. The project includes construction of four concrete holding tanks, fans to blow air into those tanks, and a number of pumps. Now that Colorado is getting an extra $31 million for its SRF via the stimulus package, Michael is hoping the “nos” of past years will turn into “yes.”

Michael says, “We are ready to go now.” He has submitted the project for inclusion on the state priority list and believes that if the Pueblo project is funded the money would be forthcoming toward the end of 2009.

Milwaukee has had more luck getting Wisconsin SRF funding than Pueblo has with Colorado. Kevin Shafer, executive director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage System, is very optimistic about the $107.8 million in CWSRF stimulus funding Wisconsin is getting. That is four or five times what the state gets annually from the EPA CWSRF. Milwaukee can get as much as 35.2 percent of Wisconsin’s SRF allocation; Shafer expects to get about $37 million in stimulus funds. But Shafer points out that Milwaukee has a five year sewer capital program of $692 million. Of that, about $249 million is for underground piping and appurtenances. The $37 million from the stimulus bill will help but it won’t be near enough to fund all the improvements Milwaukee needs to make, in piping and elsewhere.

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