Not letting grass grow under his feet, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the formal launch of the newly created Ohio Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Grant program.  The Ohio Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Grant Program will award approximately $250 million to provide safe, reliable drinking water in areas that lack infrastructure, bring sewage treatment capacity to unsewered areas, and develop regional infrastructure to serve multiple communities.  The Ohio General Assembly funded the grant program in House Bill 168, sponsored by State Representatives Mark Fraizer (R-Newark) and Mike Loychik (R-Bazetta), with money that was appropriated through the American Rescue Plan Act. Governor DeWine signed the bill into law in June.

Public entities within a political subdivision with the authority to own and operate public water

and sewer systems and non-profit, non-community public water systems may submit an

application. Political subdivision means a county, township, municipal corporation, or other body corporate and politic responsible for governmental activities in a geographic area smaller than that of the state.

County engineers are to provide a prioritized list of projects for Development’s consideration.

County engineers can go to investinginohiosfuture.ohio.gov to provide Development their

prioritized list. To be eligible for funding, an application will need to be completed whether a

project is or is not on the prioritized list.Water and wastewater construction projects are eligible for up to $5 million in grant funding, and infrastructure engineering design projects are eligible for up to $250,000. Examples of water infrastructure constructions projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Sewer/wastewater treatment plant improvements/expansion
  • New/replacement sanitary sewer lines
  • Excess sanitary sewer infiltration/inflow correction
  • Improvements to public drinking water treatment facilities
  • Drinking water line improvements or extensions
  • Repair, replacement, and construction of drinking water storage towers

For construction projects, eligible costs include: water or sewer/wastewater facility improvements; covering tap-in fees for households connecting to a centralized sewer system; professional fees (cannot exceed 10% of total request); administrative costs (cannot exceed 10% of total request); and other (detailed description of other costs must be provided).  Design projects can apply for funds in the following categories: design costs; administrative costs (cannot exceed 10% of total request); and other (detailed description of other costs must be provided).  Administrative costs are for costs related to submitting reimbursement requests and submitting reporting information as requested by Development. Administrative costs must adhere to all uniform cost guidance.

Applicants are encouraged to ensure that projects use string labor standards, including project labor agreements and community benefit agreements that offer wages at or above the prevailing rate. Local hiring is also strongly encouraged.

Construction projects cannot charge costs associated with planning or design. Design projects cannot charge for construction related costs. Costs incurred prior to the grant period are ineligible but may be counted toward matching funds. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) aligns program eligibility with that of the State Revolving Fund programs, and as such, some other costs may be determined to be ineligible (ex.: excessive pavement replacing, land acquisition, indoor plumbing, etc…).

Utilizing matching funds is strongly encouraged. Projects that demonstrate matching funds will receive additional points towards the project score. If a project cannot demonstrate match funds, the eligible applicant must describe why match funds cannot be obtained and how the project will be successful without additional resources. Matching fund sources can include local ARPA funding, other local, state, or federal grant dollars, other sources. In addition, the on-going operation and maintenance costs associated with construction of ne infrastructure can be submitted as match contribution.

The Ohio Department of Development, with support from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, is administering the Ohio Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Grant Program.  They will utilize a point based system to make funding awards until the funding has been exhausted. Criteria for the awards includes:

  • Project Information, including details about the project and if the project is included on the County Engineers priority list and at what priority level;
  • Economically Disadvantaged Community, is the project within a community whose Median Household Income is less than the State average, unemployment rate is greater than the State average or has high water/sewer fees;
  • Providing access to public water/sewer, does the project extend service to people who currently are not served by a public water or centralized sewer system;
  • Regionalization, does the project serve multiple communities or connect two or more community systems;
  • Addressing water quality and/or public health concerns, does the project eliminate failing home sewage treatment systems, eliminate sewage back-ups etc;
  • Achieving environmental compliance with current compliance-related orders 8 10 Project Readiness, how quickly can the project begin construction;
  • Project Match is funding available to help support project costs and, if a community is economically disadvantaged, project match will be awarded; and
  • Supporting Documentation will also be required. 

Applications are open now.  Montrose Group has substantial experience in developing funding applications and advocating for those funding applications with the Ohio Department of Development, and please contact Dave Robinson at drobinson@montrosegroupllc.com if you need assistance with gaining funding from this or other economic development programs.