After a long wait, infrastructure funding through the American Jobs Plan is finally on the horizon. As has been blogged about previously, the $2.3 trillion that is planned will infuse significant capital for much needed infrastructure. The plan, as its currently drafted, covers a broad range of project categories that will benefit companies, businesses, and citizens of the United States. There are many facets to the plan; items of note to our water and wastewater clients are the investments the government is making into the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs.
These SRF programs are available in all 50 states including Puerto Rico, and provide low-interest, and sometimes zero-interest loans to cities, counties, territories, and entities. SRF programs are the most heavily-used funding programs nationwide, primarily because they are the most economical loan programs available.
I’ve written before about how to comply with complex funding requirements for infrastructure projects. These programs are no exception. Invariably, there will be requirements to maintain funding. In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act required SRF borrowers to comply with the Buy American Act. The act established the need to use American-made iron and steel products for eligible projects that received funding. The Davis-Bacon Act became a permanent fixture within the SRF programs to protect the worker’s employed by construction companies. With those two requirements also came Jobs Reporting, a requirement formed to track the number of job opportunities created because of the funding investment provided. We can safely assume this new plan will likely include the old requirements, as well as the possibility of new requirements.
As consultants specializing in the design and construction of the types of projects the plan will fund, there are things we can do in advance to help our clients be ready for the wave. The SRF process differs in every state, but the underlying rules remain the same. Timing and preparation are key!
The SRF process begins with:
- Creating a Facility Plan / Environmental Impact Document / Planning Document. All names are synonymous with the plan that will provide the program with the overall view of the project or projects that the community is seeking funding for, as well as cost comparisons, alternatives considered, the alternative selected, an environmental/socioeconomic overview, financial and project planning, and public participation.
- Ascertaining Project Readiness / Readiness to Proceed / Shovel-Readiness. Has the design been completed? Have permits been obtained? Is the project ready to go? These questions will be evaluated, and projects will compete against each other according to priority and the ability to move forward expeditiously.
The time is now! We can help create successful, fully-funded projects that have the potential to provide enormous economic benefits to the people of the area. The SRF loan programs provide one of the most sustainable resources for financial viability nationwide. Put the programs to work for you.