NHDES strives to develop programs that provide support and encourage progress for the largest and smallest communities across New Hampshire, and the critical need for investment in water infrastructure is clear. In June 2021, NHDES received applications to the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds (DWSRF and CWSRF, respectively) for assistance for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure projects representing over $1.01 billion of planned projects. Although this number is staggering, it is only a fraction of the total need estimated as part of a Clean Water Assessment conducted in 2012 for the Environmental Protection Agency, which calculated over $2 billion. Additionally, NHDES has identified over $100 million for critical flood-risk projects to address infrastructure susceptible to damage due to extreme conditions of storms, tides or flooding events. On one hand, these numbers show that New Hampshire’s need for investment in water infrastructure far outpaces the availability of funds; on the other, any additional funding for water infrastructure will have a significant impact for communities across the state.
Based on planning between NHDES, legislative leadership and the Governor’s office, $150 million of the funds received by the State of New Hampshire through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) has been made available to NHDES, as approved by the Legislature and Governor and Executive Council, to invest in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure of New Hampshire. ARPA is a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed by the 117th U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021 that is intended to speed up the United States’ recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding plan developed by NHDES budgets a portion of the available ARPA funds to support existing water infrastructure programs and, in order to meet the known demand and growing needs in the state, NHDES is budgeting ARPA funds to establish new programs that will help utilize all available infrastructure funding. The funding priorities of the Department are aligned with the priorities described in the final rule provided by the Treasury related to ARPA funding. Specifically, NHDES will prioritize programs that:
- Ensure compliance with applicable health and environmental safety requirements.
- Address the most serious risks to human health.
- Assist systems most in need on a per household basis according to State affordability criteria.
Proposed ARPA Grant Water Infrastructure Categories
For the purpose of planning and budgeting for the use of ARPA funding, NHDES recommends that ARPA funding be distributed into the category of projects described below. However, funding distribution may be altered based on category demand. The project categories will direct ARPA funds to where the need is critical, beneficial and timely but also sets up communities with the tools to plan for and address future needs.
|Drinking Water and Clean Water Infrastructure Projects |
ARPA grant funds will be allocated to drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure projects through the annual solicitation for the DWSRF and CWSRF loan programs.
|Assistance for Disadvantaged Communities Drinking Water & Wastewater|
A portion of ARPA grant funds is intended to be used to develop and implement a disadvantaged system grant program to enhance the quality and reliability of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure where the need is greatest.
|Drinking Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Planning Grants |
A percentage of the ARPA funds appropriated to drinking water and wastewater infrastructure will be allocated to support grants for planning projects. Planning grants are critical to improve project development, increase project readiness, assist communities in applying for funding for implementation of the project, and ensures efficient use of funds.
|Long-Term System Sustainability Grants |
Funding for long-term system sustainability projects ensures the future viability of systems by modernizing technology and infrastructure. Funding programs that fit under this category include asset management, water and energy audit measures implementation, and cybersecurity upgrades.
|Critical Flood-Risk Projects |
Reducing the critical flood risks by addressing outdated, undersized culverts and other stormwater infrastructure that today results in road closures, property loss, and increased pollution discharged to waterbodies.
|PFAS Projects |
ARPA funds will be used to support the grant portion of the PFAS Remediation Loan Fund.
|Total Potential Appropriation||$150 million|
Dam Projects Funding
The Fiscal Committee of the General Court and the Governor and Executive Council recently approved a $35 million appropriation for necessary repairs to State-owned dams and to fund the creation of a Dam Rehabilitation/Removal Grant Program. For the purpose of planning and budgeting for the use of this ARPA funding, NHDES recommends that ARPA funding be distributed in the categories of projects described below.
The NHDES Dam Bureau has identified 11 State-owned dams to which ARPA funding will be allocated. The dams have known deficiencies that the funding will allow the Dam Bureau to address. Some of these dams have rehabilitation designs nearly complete, in which ARPA funds will be spent to complete construction of the design. ARPA funds will be spent on others to complete a full design process in order to identify site constraints and to prepare plans to remediate known deficiencies.
|Dam Rehabilitation/Removal Grant Program for Municipally Owned High Hazard Dams|
Funding to support the reconstruction, rehabilitation or removal of municipally owned high hazard dams, which have been determined to be in Poor or Unsatisfactory condition, to make them compliant with current state dam safety standards or remove them and eliminate the risk to life and property that they pose.
|Total Appropriation||$35 million|