Current Operations and Capital Improvements Appropriations Act of 2015 (HB 97)


The General Assembly enacted House Bill 97 which established Merger/Regionalization Feasibility Grants to “broaden the use of grant funds to encourage water and wastewater utilities to become more viable and proactive in the management and financing of their systems. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality uses these grants to provide funding for studies to evaluate the potential consolidation of two or more water or wastewater systems into one system and the potential physical interconnection with another system for regional wastewater treatment or regional water supply. As of 2018, 18 grants totaling $875,000 have been awarded to localities around the state.” (p. 180 of the Bill). 

According to US Water Alliance, “The State Water Infrastructure Authority worked with the legislature to define affordability in statute. The Authority then developed a set of indicators and benchmarks… intended to better distinguish between utilities that can least afford a critical infrastructure project, and those that can afford to incur some amount of debt or obligate some amount of funding toward it. The Authority developed an approach to prioritize communities that: 1) have smaller populations; 2) are comparatively worse than state benchmarks for five key economic indicators: population change, poverty rate, median household income (MHI), unemployment rate, and property valuation per capita; 3) have current monthly utility rates (independent of MHI) that are higher than the state median; and 4) will demonstrate a project cost per connection that is higher than the state median. This restructured approach enables state funding resources to benefit more communities by combining loans and grants based on affordability while acknowledging that full grant funding of projects is, in some cases, still the most appropriate approach when rates are the most extreme in the state.” 

  • Action Agency(ies): Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Water Infrastructure for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Wastewater Reserve and Drinking Water Reserve
  • Read the full policy language

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