FAQs About Funding and Grants

What types of funding are available?
Who can apply for Trust Fund funding?
Who decides which projects get funded?
What types of projects are eligible for funding?
How is the Trust Fund different from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program?
How is the Trust Fund different from the MtBE Settlement money?
What terms are available for loans from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Trust Fund?
Is the interest rate for the loans fixed or is it adjustable?
Will there be funding set aside for both Construction and Non-construction projects?
Since the cost of construction under the SRF Program may be greater than the cost using the Trust Fund due to federal requirements, should I estimate construction cost based on the SRF Program?
Is there a more formal application than the pre-application for construction projects?
If the construction pre-application doesn’t have all the information required to make an evaluation, will the project drop to the bottom of the list?
How far back can an applicant reach for reimbursement of costs?
If I have a multi-phase project and the first phase was funded under the SRF program, will the second phase be subject to the same federal funding requirements?
I have several projects I would like to undertake. Do I submit a single pre-application for all of the projects or should I submit a pre-application for each project?
Are the ranking criteria for funding publicly available?
If a project is eligible for forgiveness under the SRF Program, could the project also receive a grant from the Trust Fund?
If I receive an SRF Loan and also a Trust Fund grant for a project, is the whole project subject to the SRF requirements?
Will planning grants be allowed under the Trust Fund?

Non-Construction Projects

Is it necessary to have a purchase and sales agreement in place when the pre-application is submitted?
Is delineation of the source water area to a well an expense that is eligible for a Trust Fund grant?
If a municipality owns a property but that property is not permanently protected, would that property be eligible for a Trust Fund grant?
Would a conservation easement require the option to withdraw water from the groundwater in order to be eligible for a Trust Fund grant?
The eligibility requirements call for the land to be uncontaminated. What is the definition of uncontaminated?
The criteria limit grants for property to that which is uncontaminated. Is the applicant required to take soil and groundwater samples to confirm it is uncontaminated?
Is surface water at a site under consideration included in the “uncontaminated” requirement?
The eligibility for a grant for protecting land within a water supply watershed limits the property to that which has frontage on rivers or streams that are tributary to a surface water source or non-frontage land within five (5) miles of the intake. How is that 5-mile measurement taken?

What types of funding are available?
Loans, grants and matching funds are available.  Grants for construction projects, typically, are awarded for unique circumstances only.

Who can apply for Trust Fund funding?
For infrastructure projects, loans and cost sharing grants are available to municipalities, municipally-owned water utilities and privately owned water utilities that are public water systems as defined in RSA 485:1-a,XV. For land conservation grants, eligible applicants include public water systems, municipalities, land trusts and other non-profit conservation organizations.

Who decides which projects get funded?
The award of funding for projects is made by the Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund Advisory Commission. Pre-applications for construction loans and grants will be evaluated on a competitive basis. For land conservation grants, a review panel will review the applications and make funding recommendations, but the Commission will make final funding decisions. For construction or infrastructure projects, DES will rank the projects and then turn that ranking over to the Commission. The Commission will then review the project list and make the final selection of the projects to be funded. Loans and grants must then be approved by the Governor and Council.

What types of projects are eligible for funding?
For the 2018 loan and grant round, funding is available for the following types of projects:

  • Planning, design and construction or replacement of aging water infrastructure.
  • Treatment or replacement of impacted water sources.
  • Design and construction of the extension of public water systems.
  • Permanent protection of water supply land.

The Commission encourages applicants to provide matching funds for any project.

How is the Trust Fund different from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program?
The State Revolving Fund Loan Program (SRF) receives funding from the Federal Government. As such, loan recipients are subject to certain requirements of the Federal Government:

  • Davis-Bacon Act Prevailing Wage Rates.
  • Use of American Iron and Steel.
  • Environmental Review.
  • Utilization of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises.

The SRF program also has provisions for loan forgiveness which can range from 10 to 20% of the loan amount.

Loans and grants from the Trust Fund are not subject to the SRF requirements with two exceptions. Every application submitted for funding from the Trust Fund must include an Environmental Review and implement asset management measures for the funded asset. The content of the Review and the Asset Management requirements are the same as what’s required under the SRF program.

Funding from the Trust Fund is intended to address projects which are not eligible for funding under the SRF program or when SRF funds have been fully committed and no other funding is available.

Trust Fund loans will not have provisions for principal forgiveness.

Applications for funding will include both loans and grants. The Advisory Commission will determine the extent of the grant that is awarded.

How is the Trust Fund different from the MtBE Settlement money?
The money associated with the MtBE Settlement is restricted to projects addressing groundwater contaminated by MtBE. Monies from the Trust Fund may be used to address groundwater contamination caused by any contaminant. The Fund can also be used for replacing aging water infrastructure, expanding infrastructure to address impacted water supplies and drinking water source protection.

What terms are available for loans from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Trust Fund?
Loan terms from the SRF are available for the following periods: 5, 10, 15, 20 and 30 years. A 40-year term is available for Trust Fund loans. Loans of 30 or 40 years must be for projects which will have a useful life of that period or greater. Interest rates for loans are set once a year and are based on the 11 GO Bond Index. For comparison purposes, the 2018 rates for DWSRF were as follows: 5 years – 0.7575%; 10 years – 1.515%; 15 years – 2.2725%; 20 years – 2.424%; and 30 years, which was only available to disadvantaged communities – 2.424%. Loans from the Trust Fund have a single interest rate for all loan periods and will be set this summer. The market rate which was used in setting the SRF rates and what would be used as the Trust Fund rate was 3.03%.

Is the interest rate for the loans fixed or is it adjustable?
The interest rates for the SRF Program are set once per year and increase based on the life of the loan. The interest rate for loans from the Trust Fund will be constant, regardless of the life of the loan, and will be at a higher rate than what will be available from the SRF Program.

Will there be funding set aside for both Construction and Non-construction projects?
Annually, 90% of the appropriation will be set aside for construction projects and 10% will be dedicated to non-construction projects.  The non-construction projects – for the 2018 round these comprise land protection only – may receive grants for up to 50% of the eligible total project cost.

Since the cost of construction under the SRF Program may be greater than the cost using the Trust Fund due to federal requirements, should I estimate construction cost based on the SRF Program?
With the requirement for utilizing Davis-Bacon Wage Rates and the use of American Iron and Steel, construction projects under the SRF Program may have a higher cost than projects that do not have those requirements. Construction cost estimates should be based on these requirements regardless if the project is anticipated to obtain an SRF or Trust Fund loan. The applicant will not get to choose the funding source.

Is there a more formal application than the pre-application for construction projects?
Yes, the pre-application is followed by the preparation and submittal of a final application. However, only those projects that are selected by the Commission are required to submit a final application.

If the construction pre-application doesn’t have all the information required to make an evaluation, will the project drop to the bottom of the list?
The pre-application should be as complete as possible when it is submitted. Pre-applications for construction projects will be ranked by NHDES based on the information they contain. NHDES will present the project and will not fix it or revise it for the applicant. Should the pre-application rank poorly, the Commission may still decide to fund the project based on the need and/or the importance of the project. For non-construction projects, pre-applications (“eligibility applications”) will not be scored or ranked.

How far back can an applicant reach for reimbursement of costs?
Projects that have been completed cannot be considered for reimbursement. Non-construction costs related to the project such as project planning and design would be reimbursable.

If I have a multi-phase project and the first phase was funded under the SRF program, will the second phase be subject to the same federal funding requirements?
As long as each phase is distinct and separate, the second phase would be considered a new project and would not be subject to the federal funding requirements unless, of course, it received an SRF Program loan.

I have several projects I would like to undertake. Do I submit a single pre-application for all of the projects or should I submit a pre-application for each project?
Normally, a pre-application is required for each project an applicant in proposing.  A single pre-application for multiple projects will not be considered unless the applicant receives prior approval from NHDES.

Are the ranking criteria for funding publicly available?
There are no ranking criteria for construction project applications submitted to the Trust Fund. All pre-applications for construction projects will be ranked using the criteria included in the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Intended Use Plan. The plan for 2018 will be available in August or September 2018. The scoring criteria for land protection projects are described in the 2018 Program Guidelines for the Water Supply Land Protection Grant Program under the New Hampshire Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund.

If a project is eligible for forgiveness under the SRF Program, could the project also receive a grant from the Trust Fund?
Yes, that is possible but the entire project would be subject to the requirements of the SRF Program.

If I receive an SRF Loan and also a Trust Fund grant for a project, is the whole project subject to the SRF requirements?
Yes, any funding from the SRF Program would make the entire project subject to the requirements of the SRF Program.

Will planning grants be allowed under the Trust Fund?
Planning grants for construction projects are not allowed under the SRF Program but they are available under the Trust Fund.

 

Non-Construction Projects

Is it necessary to have a purchase and sales agreement in place when the pre-application is submitted?
No, but the scoring system would provide more points to a project that did have an agreement once the full application is submitted.

Is delineation of the source water area to a well an expense that is eligible for a Trust Fund grant?
Currently it is not, however, grants for such an activity may be available in the future.

If a municipality owns a property but that property is not permanently protected, would that property be eligible for a Trust Fund grant?
Yes, such a project would be eligible for a grant if the grant would be used to permanently protect the property.

Would a conservation easement require the option to withdraw water from the groundwater in order to be eligible for a Trust Fund grant?
No, a conservation easement would not be required to include language giving the right to withdraw water from the subsurface.

The eligibility requirements call for the land to be uncontaminated. What is the definition of uncontaminated?
Uncontaminated land would have soils that do not exceed the S-1 Soil Standards contained in the Department’s Risk Characterization and Management Policy.  Groundwater at the site would need to meet the Ambient Groundwater Quality Standards.

The criteria limit grants for property to that which is uncontaminated. Is the applicant required to take soil and groundwater samples to confirm it is uncontaminated?
No, the applicant is not required to provide results from soil and/or groundwater sampling.  However, if the property has a history of use which places it at risk of contamination or a site visit reveals evidence that suggests such a risk, an environmental site assessment, including sampling, may be required.

Is surface water at a site under consideration included in the “uncontaminated” requirement?
No, the quality of the surface water is not a factor in determining if a site is uncontaminated, only on-site soil and groundwater.

The eligibility for a grant for protecting land within a water supply watershed limits the property to that which has frontage on rivers or streams that are tributary to a surface water source or non-frontage land within five (5) miles of the intake. How is that 5-mile measurement taken?
The measurement is in a straight line from the intake to the parcel under consideration.

 

How can I learn more?

Call the office at (603) 271-8321 and speak with Erin Holmes, P.E., DWG Trust Fund Administrator or email her at erin.holmes@des.nh.gov.