Ohio Creates Water & Sewer Funding Program Linking Infrastructure and Economic Development

The quality of a region’s infrastructure and transportation system directly impacts its chances for current and future economic success. Measures of infrastructure and transportation include a review of major highways, transit and airport systems, and level of traffic congestion that all impact the ability to do business. States like Ohio have a robust highway and roadway transportation network that is mature and serves to connect the urban, suburban and rural markets as well as to major Midwest and East Coast markets.

Ohio, like the nation has work to do related to the quality of its infrastructure. The Ohio Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently released its 2021 Report Card for Ohio’s Infrastructure, the Section’s first report in more than a decade. Ohio civil engineers gave 16 categories of infrastructure an overall grade of “C-“, slightly ahead of the national average of “D+” given in 2017. Graded categories included bridges (C+), dams (C-), drinking water (D+), energy (C), hazardous waste (D+), inland waterways (D+), levees (D), parks (C-), ports (C), rail (B), roads (D), schools (C+), solid waste (B-), stormwater (D+), transit (D) and wastewater (C-).  Recent ASCE studies indicate the U.S. needs to invest a total of $109 billion per year in water infrastructure over the next 20 years in 2019 dollars to close the water infrastructure gap and, by 2039, the cumulative impact on the gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to be a decline of 1.2 percent, translating to a loss of $2.9 trillion. Moreover, more than $732 billion in business sales (output) would be lost over the next 10 years. By 2039, that number will exceed $4.5 trillion. Other studies indicate that building water and wastewater infrastructure in rural and urban communities across the US creates jobs, stimulates investment from the private sector, and increases a community’s tax base. For each dollar spent building water or wastewater infrastructure, about $15 are created in private investment and “$14 added to the local property tax base. 

Ohio is working to address the water and sewer infrastructure gap through the creation of a $250 M Ohio Water and Sewer Quality Program. The Ohio Department of Development will administer this program and make grants under the Water and Sewer Quality Program. Eligible funding entities include “political subdivisions” 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. The Department of Development shall utilize the funds appropriated to establish and administer the Water and Sewer Quality Program to provide grants to political subdivisions related to water and sewer quality projects.

The Development Department is charged with determining the project’s eligibility and establishing a means of applying for grants under the program. The Department will require a political subdivision that receives funds under the program to provide a local match or local contribution. In extraordinary circumstances as determined by the Department, the Department may waive the local match or local contribution requirement. Not later than sixty days after this section takes effect, the county engineer of each county in the state shall submit to the Department a list of projects within the county that are eligible to receive funding under the program. The list shall indicate the priority level of each project, in comparison to the other projects on the list. The Department may provide grants under the program for projects on the list each county engineer is required to submit, or for projects otherwise submitted by a political subdivision, so long as a project satisfies the eligibility criteria established by the Department.

Ohio’s Water and Sewer Quality Program positions the Buckeye State to compete globally for the next large scale, transformational global corporate site location project through a more transparent and predictable process.  Do not hesitate to contact Dave Robinson at drobinson@montrosegroupllc.com if you any questions regarding the Ohio Water and Sewer Quality Program or other corporate site location or economic development programs.