Commissioner's Column: NHDES receives federal funds for drinking water and wastewater projects
The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services recently received approval from the legislative Fiscal Committee and the Governor and Executive Council to accept and expend $50 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) to fund investments in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.
ARPA is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the 117th United States Congress and signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021, to speed up the United States’ recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession. The Act defines eligible uses of the state and local funding, including responding to a public health emergency, responding to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 emergency, providing revenue relief to states and making investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure. Based on planning between NHDES, legislative leadership, and the Governor’s Office, a portion of the ARPA funds have been initially allocated to NHDES to invest in the drinking water and wastewater infrastructure of New Hampshire.
This initial appropriation will allow NHDES to stand up the program by hopefully having the necessary staff in place to manage it and begin to award grant funding to entities. NHDES is developing a detailed use plan for the ARPA funds based on interim guidance from the US Treasury Department. Some of these funds will be allocated to the Fish and Game Department, to help ensure timely processing of protected threatened and endangered species consultations for associated permits needed for the projects.
While it is expected that there will be additional ARPA funding allocated for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects, the amount is unknown beyond the $50 million that has been allocated to this point. NHDES will be standing up outreach efforts to ensure that our stakeholders are in the know once more specific information is available.