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Thread: funding for sewage treatment system

  1. #1
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    funding for sewage treatment system

    Our city is considering building a sewage treatment system. Currently the city relies on on-site sewage (septics). County health regulations on OSSF mandate one+ acre lots. This has led to a large-lot development scheme out here that really keeps out moderately-priced housing and hampers commercial development. Our median family income is around $67000 and house values are around $160000. The City lies over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone, an extremely sensitive environmental feature that is the primary source for San Antonio's drinking water. We will probably have to design the system for gray-water irrigation rather than discharge into a creek or river due to environmental issues in our two nearest discharge possibilities.

    The city does not have a huge budget to work with. This type of expense would go in a CIP, but we're still looking at some major expense with bond payments. Do any of you have any suggestions for creative financing, grants, matching funds, low-interest loans, etc that might help defer some of this cost? I've tried to include a bunch of information above that might have bearing on grant qualifications. Thanks for any advice you might have.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  2. #2
    Member Kiltie's avatar
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    Take a look at "Special Districts: A Useful Technique for Financing Infrastructure" by ULI. The second edition came out in 1992, and is a little dated, but goes over improvement districts, TIFFs, special assessment districts, etc. There may be a newer edition out there. Lord knows there is quite a bit out there on this subject.

    On the face of your problem, an improvement district may be a way to go, but I'm not a 'infrastructure' guru by any means.

  3. #3
    Depending on the size of your community you may be eligible for USDA Rural Development/Rural Utilities Service loans and/or grants. Another option that you might consider is checking with your State Department of Environmental Quality. What was at one time a grant program from EPA for water and wastewater is now a revolving loan fund in many states. These are generally low interest, long term loans.

    Still another option is the Community Development Block Grant Program through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In addition, you might want to look into EPA's on-site program. EPA has been in the process of developing technologies to rehabilitate community on-site systems into cluster systems.

    Here are a couple of links that you might want to check out:

    National Small Flows Clearinghouse
    EPA Small Flows Clearinghouse
    Either of these should give you good information plus important contact information to begin dialogue with state and federal agencies.

    Good luck.
    A word to the wise ain't necessary. It's the stupid ones that need the advice.
    --Bill Cosby

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Kiltie's resource is good.

    Are you sure you require a municipal waste system? Our State recently adopted a performance standard approach to what you call OSSFs. Although controversial, the systems encourage innovation in technology, and our County recently approved one system (referred to as an A+1 mound system) with one one inch of native soil between the ground water level and the purification and treatment bed.

    Look into some of these emerging technologoes. They may or may not be applicable to your soil conditions, and can save taxpayers millions by placing the treatment burden directly on the user.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Rem's avatar
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    I have no idea what so ever about your financing regimes. My suggestion is that you put some effort into the area of reducing the cost of the system. Our sewer authority had success a few years ago by identifying a major gray water user. The advantages were deferral of a new sewage treatment plant, a capital saving by obviating the need for a major new rising main, reduction in potable water consumption (by the gray water user), costs savings to all parties and environmental kudos as the alternative mechanism was ocean outfall.

    In our case the gray water user was an existing power station and I appreciate such things may be scarce in your neck of the woods. But good luck.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    In order to qualify for any of the federally-funded infrastructure programs (CDBG, Rural Development, EDA, etc.) you need to demonstrate financial need, which is usually at least 51% LMI households. It does not sound like you will be able to pull that off. You might have more luck identifying pockets of the community that qualify, and pursuing assistance for the percentage of the cost represented by those households, or seek funding for a grant program for individual qualifying households.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian ludes98's avatar
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    I agree with Cardinal. I am working on a sewer project for a rural county in Nevada. There are two other ways to qualify but you won't meet those either most likely. Good luck on getting at least a portion of your project covered.

  8. #8
    My fault, I should have paid more attention to household income and housing value information in your original post. However, the state revolving funds do not require 51% low/mod. Also, you might want to check with the Corps of Engineers on their Section 592 program. It does require 25% local match but does not require a particular low/mod ratio.
    A word to the wise ain't necessary. It's the stupid ones that need the advice.
    --Bill Cosby

  9. #9
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jestes
    My fault, I should have paid more attention to household income and housing value information in your original post. However, the state revolving funds do not require 51% low/mod. Also, you might want to check with the Corps of Engineers on their Section 592 program. It does require 25% local match but does not require a particular low/mod ratio.
    I'll check with the revolving funds. I didn't know about the COE program, so I'll be sure to look into that. 25% matching sounds a lot better than nothing at all! I pretty much assumed that federal programs were out because of our demographics. The only way I think we could get CDBG funds would be to say that lack of sewage treatment is keeping out low & moderate income, but I doubt they'll bite on that. I'm also thinking that our environmental issues could have some bearing on a grant.

    Thanks for everyone's thoughts!

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  10. #10
    If your environmental issues are significant enough you might try petitioning your local congressional delegation for a direct appropriation (pork barrel). In addition, if the project could result in significant, long-term job creation you might want to consider the EDA Grant program through the Dept. of Commerce.

    I am in the process of tying down funding for a 3 million dollar sewer project in a rural community in my county. A couple of things that I have learned in the process are that it helps to build a collaboration of local, state, and federal agencies to become part of a team trying to solve a particular problem; and that for larger projects it nearly always requires a combination of funding mechanisms and sources to get the job done.
    A word to the wise ain't necessary. It's the stupid ones that need the advice.
    --Bill Cosby

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