City & County

Amity, Arkadelphia tapped to receive funding for water projects

The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission approved $270 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding distribution at its meeting on Friday.

A total of 157 projects will receive funding across 58 counties.

Among the grants are to the City of Amity totaling $1.7 million for improvements to its water system, and a $454,230 grant to the City of Arkadelphia for Gum Springs water system improvements. Both municipalities will be responsible for matching 25% of the awarded funding.

Governor Asa Hutchinson established the American Rescue Plan Act Steering Committee to make recommendations on the best use of ARPA funding provided to the state. In June of 2021, a working group for water and other infrastructure projects was formed to make a recommendation to the ARPA steering committee.

The Working Group conducted an extensive assessment of drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater needs across the state. Based on over 1,400 responses, an overall water infrastructure need of $5.2 billion was identified. On August 31, 2021, the working group submitted a final report to the ARPA Steering Committee. A timeline, eligibility requirements, and scoring criteria were also developed and included in the report.

On July 27, 2022, a House and Senate City, County and Local Affairs Committee met to hear statewide water and wastewater needs and the Department’s proposed ARPA funding plan.

On August 18, 2022, the American Rescue Plan Steering Committee approved $270 million to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture for water, wastewater, and stormwater projects and $10 million for irrigation projects.

On September 13, 2022, the PEER Committee reviewed the ARPA funding proposal for water and wastewater. On September 16, 2022, the Arkansas Legislative Council approved the full $270 million for water, wastewater, and stormwater projects to be administered by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Commission.

The Department issued a press release and opened the application period on September 16, 2022. Applications were accepted until November 4, 2022. Seven application assistance meetings were scheduled across the state to provide guidance and assistance to applicants.

A total of 882 applications were received and included at least 1 application from each county within the State.

The projects were scored by representatives of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Division, Arkansas Department of Health, and Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment’s Division of Environmental Quality. A total of 157 projects across 58 counties were recommended for funding. A total of 412 unique entities submitted applications and 119 different entities received funding for water and/or wastewater. Fourteen entities received funding for at least one drinking water and one wastewater application. A breakdown of the projects is provided below for Drinking Water and Wastewater/Stormwater.

Drinking water

Based on the evaluation criteria, 105 drinking water projects were approved with a total award of $134,673,713. The projects will serve approximately 170,139 customers. The average Median Household Income (MHI) for the awarded projects is $34,218/year. Statistics for the 105 projects are provided below:

— 12 projects will result in partial or complete consolidation/regionalization of water systems.

— 22 projects will result in the extension of water service to unserved portions of the state.

— 43 projects will result in a reduction in the use of groundwater.

— 56 projects directly affect communities deemed disadvantaged based on their MHI and water bill.

— 62 projects will address regulatory consent orders or other compliance issues.

— 74 projects are in counties with more than 5% population decline during the previous decade.

Wastewater/Stormwater

Based on the evaluation criteria, 52 wastewater projects were approved with a total award of $135,326,287. The projects will serve approximately 283,152 customers. The average Median Household Income (MHI) for the awarded projects is $42,533/year. Statistics for the 52 projects are provided below:

— 6 projects will result in the extension of wastewater service to unserved portions of the state.

–10 projects will result in partial or complete consolidation/regionalization of wastewater systems.

— 18 projects will improve water quality by reducing infiltration and inflow of wastewater.

–21 projects will improve water quality in a currently impaired waterbody.

— 27 projects are in counties with more than 5% population decline during the previous decade.

— 36 projects will address regulatory consent orders or other compliance issues.

— 42 projects will improve water quality in a watershed used for drinking water.

— 44 projects will reduce nutrients with 22 projects directly treating for nutrients.

Projects awarded funding will have to meet match requirements, if required, and start construction by December 31, 2023. All construction is to be completed by December 31, 2026.

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