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Financial Assistance Programs: Water Quality
A Community's Guide to the Utah Water Quality Project Assistance Program
Chapter 2: Getting Started
Generally, communities get involved with water quality projects for one of two reasons. Either they have a problem that must be fixed to comply with water quality laws, or the community wants to make improvements for its own reasons. The first step is for you to have a firm idea of what you are trying to accomplish. To save time and money, decide where you are now and where you want to be when the work's all done.
How Do I Get Involved With the WQPAP?
If you have a water quality project, problem or need, and wonder if the WQPAP can help you, the first step is to call us. We will talk with you and schedule a general informational meeting.
These meetings can be as formal or informal as you want -- ranging from an informal discussion to a presentation at a City Council or District Board meeting. At the initial meeting, DWQ representatives will meet to discuss the WQPAP program and important information you need to start the loan process. This meeting provides a good opportunity for you to ask questions and discuss what you want to accomplish.
If you choose, we can talk about the specifics of your project at the general informational meeting. In the same meeting, or subsequent meetings, we can start to identify the scope of your planning effort, identify what preliminary work you have already completed, and outline the steps for what to do next.
Hiring an Engineering Firm
A community must have the technical expertise and managerial capability needed to plan, design, and build the proposed project. If you do not have an engineering staff, or choose not to use your staff, your other option is to hire an engineering firm to assist you. The selection of an engineer can be the most important phase of a project. The quality of the finished product, whether an analysis of a sewer system, a design of a wastewater treatment plant, or the construction of a new interceptor sewer, can greatly depend on the engineering firm selected for the job.
You may sign one contract with the engineering firm to assist you through planning, design and construction supervision. If you choose, you may contract with a different engineering firm at the beginning of each phase. If you have questions on how to find an engineering firm, look at Utah State's Procurement Rules for Architect-Engineer Services (See Appendix A).
Nomination to the Project Priority List
During the information meeting, we will gather the information necessary to rank your project on the Project Priority List (PPL). Your community cannot be awarded a loan until the project is listed on the PPL. A ranking on the PPL in no way obligates you to participate in the WQPAP.
We will notify you when you are ranked on the list. Currently, financial assistance is awarded based on a project's readiness to proceed rather than its PPL ranking. We will do everything we can to have money available when you need it, regardless of where your project may actually be ranked on the priority list. However, should demand for WQPAP money exceed the amount available, we will award loans to the highest ranked project that is ready to proceed.
Interest Rate Determination
The terms of assistance are determined based on your community's ability to pay. The DWQ staff evaluates the cost of sewer service to the average residential user in your community using various loan interest rates. The term of the loan generally corresponds to the life of the asset which you are constructing. If the cost of service is greater than 1.4% of your median household income (taken from tax return data), your community can qualify for a hardship grant.
Financing authorizations from the Water Quality Board for financing your wastewater quality construction project from the WQPAP will not be made until you have completed an engineering report and a reasonable estimate of the cost of the project and public acceptance can be determined. A loan closing will not usually take place until construction bids have been opened and project costs can be determined with some certainty. If your community does not have the ability to finance the planning and/or design processes because you do not have a source of revenue which can be dedicated to a sewer project or you simply do not have enough money to pay for the planning and/or design costs, you may qualify for a Hardship Advance for Planning or Design from the WQPAP.
The Hardship Advance is an interest-free loan which you will be required to repaid with the construction financing you will receive later. A copy of the application in included in Appendix C. You will need to include a plan of study, a draft engineering agreement and your last two years financial statements.
An implementation plan which outlines a funding plan for the project will be an important part of the planning process.
You have taken a positive first step by contacting us, and we will be here to guide you and provide assistance when needed from now until your project is built and operating. The next step in the process is for you to begin planning specifically what you need to do to successfully complete your project and meet your goals. The next chapter discusses planning your project in more detail.
Getting Started Checklist
Things that should be done by the end of Getting Started:
- Determine where you are now and where you want to be when the work is complete.
- Hold a general information meeting with DWQ representatives.
- Submit information necessary to be ranked on the Project Priority List.