The House Corrections and Institutions Committee took up water quality on Wednesday, hearing from Eric Blatt (Director of Engineering, Water Investment Division). Chairwoman Emmons noted that Appropriations usually includes 1:5 matching funds for the revolving loan fund as well as a state match for clean water and drinking water grants.
Blatt reviewed his Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund obligations. There are loans available at several stages of construction including the engineering scope, design, and construction phases. There are a number of projects in the pipeline.
Emmons commented “we have in the last two years put in $6M for municipal pollution grants.” She wanted to know how many have actually progressed.
Blatt admitted they were behind getting that money out the door. Obstacles, such as staffing, have prevented them from getting the funding out more quickly. However, they are catching up now.
Emmons noted that they included $4M in Municipal Pollution Grant program per the recommendation of the Clean Water Fund Board. However, the Governor recommended $10M for this program, so the Committee had to grapple with that.
There was some debate about how to approach this because the additional funds could be pushed to FY25 if the Committee chooses, but their usefulness might depend on what projects could be accomplished in FY24 vs FY25. She suggested that they might want to look at “the projects and see where $4.0M can get you.”
It was noted that the input of the Capital Fund in these categories has been averaging about $3M/year the last few years and this context should be kept in mind. Projects that received these planning subsidies included ARPA projects, CSO (wastewater), and stormwater projects.
Several specific projects were mentioned, including their size and scope, that prompted questions from the Committee, but nothing that directed a policy discussion. There are several thresholds that projects have to meet including the percentage the grant contributes to the overall cost of the project and the relative wealth of the community in which the project is located.
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