The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 recently became law. ARPA provides financial relief to states and local communities that experienced a significant drop-off in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. ARPA funds are being spread across many sectors from economic impact payments (direct payments to individuals), to homeowner assistance, small business credits, employee retention, and capital projects. Within ARPA, the state and local fiscal recovery fund provides $350 billion to offset the impact of rising costs at a time of falling revenues during the pandemic. These funds will provide additional resources for state, local, and tribal governments to invest in public improvement projects such as drinking water, wastewater, and broadband infrastructure. Funds must be committed and costs incurred by December 31, 2024.
The funds are being allocated as follows:
- $195 billion for states (a minimum of $500 million per state)
- $130 billion for local governments (a minimum of $1.25 billion per state)
- $20 billion for tribal governments
- $4.5 billion for territories
The capital projects fund includes $10 billion dedicated to expanding broadband access to rural communities to close the digital divide. Internet access was a critical need during the pandemic as so many activities shifted from in-person to online.
The ARPA funds are also being allocated to drinking water and wastewater projects to improve public health and to promote economic development. Communities are now preparing for the influx of federal funds by prioritizing their water and wastewater capital improvement projects. For instance, in one of Hoyle Tanner’s regions, New England states are slated to receive more than $2 billion (collectively) to invest in their vital drinking water, wastewater, and broadband infrastructure.
Clean water is essential to our environment and quality of life. However, the cost to operate, maintain and upgrade our critical water infrastructure is steadily rising. Communities with Capital Improvement Plans and Asset Management Programs are poised to take advantage of the ARPA funds to further leverage their local funds to make substantial infrastructure improvements. Hoyle Tanner is eager to help you achieve success with your critical water infrastructure projects. Reach out to Joe Ducharme, PE, BCEE of our Municipal Engineering Services Group to see how we can help your community.