The NHDES Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau (DWGB) and Wastewater Engineering Bureau (WWEB) have budgeted a portion of the ARPA funds to be used to make necessary, comprehensive investments in drinking water and sewer infrastructure for New Hampshire resident-owned communities/manufactured-home cooperatives (COOPs). New Hampshire COOPs are corporations whose members – the homeowners – own and operate their common infrastructure as a nonprofit. In New Hampshire, there are 136 resident-owned communities containing nearly 8,300 affordable homes. Often, these communities suffer from failing infrastructure from deferred maintenance by the previous private owner. Generally, the relatively small number of users on these systems and the expense of needed improvements leaves few resources to address those problems.
Recognizing this, NHDES developed this program with the intention to achieve the prioritizations set forth by the US Department of Treasury for the ARPA funds to prioritize human health and the environment and assist those systems most in need on a per household basis according to State affordability criteria. As taken directly from the US Department of Treasury Interim Final Guidance:
“Although the pandemic impacts have been widespread, both the public health and economic impacts of the pandemic have fallen most severely on communities and populations disadvantaged before it began.”
Through implementation of this program, NHDES anticipates the following benefits for COOPs recommended for funding:
- Increased compliance for public water systems and wastewater systems including subsurface systems in small and disadvantaged communities.
- Improvements in the capacity of small and disadvantaged water systems in order to provide safe and reliable drinking water to customers such that they are no longer “underserved” communities.
- Improvements in asset management activities to ensure the long-term health and operating success of their water and wastewater infrastructure.
- Public water systems that provide residents of small and disadvantaged communities with safe and reliable drinking water.
- Adequate and properly functioning wastewater infrastructure and septic systems to protect public health and the environment.
Program Details and Eligibility Information
Projects were selected based on the applications received through the DWSRF and CWSRF solicitations in June 2021 and a second solicitation in March 2022. In order to ensure efficient use of the funds, NHDES has only budgeted funding for projects related to COOPs that meet the following disadvantaged criteria:
- A COOP that serves residents whose median household income (MHI) is less than the statewide MHI based on the most recent income survey (completed within the past 3 years). The statewide MHI for New Hampshire is $76,768 using the 2015 – 2019 American Community Survey data.
- At least 50% of the residential units must be occupied at least six months of the year by a population meeting the disadvantaged income criterion.
Additionally, the Affordability Index (AI) should be considered in making recommendations to fund projects for COOPs. The AI is a measure of the impact of a project on the community served and is calculated by dividing the project user rate by the COOP’s MHI. Funding should be prioritized for COOPs with an AI index of 0.8 or above.
The NHDES budget only allows a maximum grant amount for drinking water projects of $1,000,000, and the maximum grant for wastewater projects of $1,000,000. If the COOP has a combined drinking water and wastewater project the maximum grant amount is $2,000,000. There is no monetary match required.
All funds for this program have been offered.