Stimulus Water Success Greatly Exaggerated?

Image via qmnonic | CC BY 2.0

James A. Hanlon, director of EPA's Office of Wastewater Management, shared the fact that 100% of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds designated for water projects had been obligated, but only about 20 percent of these were under construction in mid-October.

That means the remaining 80 percent needs to get under contract/construction before Feb. 17, 2010 or risk losing those funds. Hanlon made his remarks to a rather small audience, about 75 people, who attended the historically popular WEFTEC session on Clean Water Policy.

So what's the problem with ARRA…besides the implementation hurdles states had to overcome to ensure transparency, the green infrastructure, and Buy American restrictions?

A reader provided some insight by commenting on a recent poll on Water & Wastewater News: Do you think the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's application process provided a level playing field? (The responses were Yes 0 percent, No 78 percent, and I don't know 21 percent.)

The reader said: "After submitting an application for ARRA funding for a project in eastern Oklahoma, the system manager and I attended a meeting with state DEQ officials where we discovered that if we were selected, our project would be eligible for approximately $30,000 in grant funding. The total cost of the project is estimated at $300,000, and we had previously secured funding for approximately 2/3 of total project (CDBG and IHS ARRA). We were informed that the district would be required to take out a loan for the difference ($70,000), would be penalized for early repayment, and additional bureaucratic procedures would add approximately $20,000 to the cost of the project. Needless to say, the manager recommended to the board not to proceed with the ARRA funding. Our project had all permits in place and had already performed an archaeological survey ─ truly a "shovel-ready" project."

Has this been your experience? Does anyone have a successful stimulus story to tell?

Posted by L.K. Williams, EPonline on Oct 27, 2009

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