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Top tags: City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

NLC: Water Resources Bill is a Win for Cities

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, October 11, 2018

This week, Congress sent the President a comprehensive bipartisan water infrastructure bill. America’s Water Infrastructure Act (S. 3021) passed the House by voice vote and passed the Senate by a vote of 99-1. In a tense political climate leading up to the mid-term elections, the strong support for the bill in both chambers shows that infrastructure investments truly are a bipartisan issue. The nation’s cities couldn’t agree more.

America’s Water Infrastructure Act includes both the traditional authorization of flood control, navigation, and ecosystem restoration projects under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps), known as the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), as well as other water infrastructure and workforce development provisions that cities have advocated for as part of the National League of Cities’ (NLC) Rebuild and Reimagine America’s Infrastructure campaign.

Here are the main takeaways for cities from America’s Water Infrastructure Act.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers two-year project authorization cycle continues.

This is the third water resources bill that Congress has passed since 2014, continuing the traditional two-year authorization cycle for Army Corps projects. The bill authorizes $5.8 billion for 15 Army Corps projects related to navigation, flood control, and ecosystem restoration. Local governments own and manage much of this infrastructure, including ports and harbors, inland waterways, levees, and dams that protect public health and safety and our natural resources. WRDA is critical to helping our communities build, maintain, and improve this critical infrastructure, while growing our national and local economies.

The bill authorizes additional money on modifications to other projects like those targeted at levee and dam safety, and expedites disaster mitigation projects in Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida and other areas impacted by natural disasters in 2017.

The bill also includes provisions to help ensure that dredged material is used or disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. It allows the Army Corps to grant a project a temporary easement for the beneficial reuse of dredged sediment to reduce storm damage to property and it increases the number of pilot projects for the beneficial use of dredged material from 10 to 20.

Finally, the bill provides greater opportunities for non-federal stakeholders, such as local governments, to engage with and provide input to the Army Corps on future and pending projects, annual budgeting and guidance documents. Regarding project financing, the bill creates a pilot program to allow projects that have been authorized but not funded to move forward with non-federal funding for reviews, inspections, certifications, studies, engineering, construction and other activities.

Upgrading our nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and improving stormwater management is a key priority.

America’s Water Infrastructure Act reauthorizes several existing water infrastructure financing mechanisms and authorizes a number of new grant opportunities for cities. Most notable is the reauthorization of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF)—for the first time in more than two decades—for three years at increasing funding levels, rising to $1.95 billion in FY2021, nearly double the current annual authorization.

Additionally, the bill reauthorizes the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) through FY21 at $50 million and removes the designation as a “pilot” program. WIFIA provides low-interest loans and loan guarantees for large water and wastewater-related infrastructure projects and activities (projects of at least $20 million or $5 million for communities serving less than 25,000 people). The bill also provides incentives for state financing authorities to leverage State Revolving Loan Fund financing with a WIFIA loan and jumpstarts the Army Corps WIFIA program by allowing EPA to serve as loan administrator, with Army Corps retaining authority over project selection.

Other grant programs authorized in the bill include:

  • Drinking Water System Infrastructure Resilience and Sustainability Program – a grant program for the planning, design, construction, implementation, operation or maintenance of programs or projects to increase resilience to natural hazards (such as projects related to water use efficiency, modification/relocation of drinking water infrastructure, desalination facilities, and source water protection). Authorizes $4 million for each FY19 and FY20.
  • Creates a grant and technical assistance program for Lead Testing in School/Childcare Facilities to assist in identifying the source of lead contamination in drinking water at schools and childcare facilities and to assist with identifying grant opportunities for lead elimination. Authorizes $25 million for each FY19-21.
  • Establishes a grant program for Drinking Water Fountain Replacement in Schools for drinking water fountains manufactured prior to 1988. Authorizes $5 million for each FY19-21.
  • Creates a grant program for accelerating the development and deployment of innovative water technologies that address drinking water supply, quality, treatment, or security challenges of public water systems, areas served by private wells or source waters. Authorizes $10 million for each FY19 and FY20.
  • Sewer Overflow Control Grants to address sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows and stormwater, with 20 percent set aside for green infrastructure, and water and energy efficiency projects. Authorizes $225 million for each FY19 and FY20

As Congress looks to complete the FY19 appropriations bills after the mid-term elections and as the Administration develops a budget proposal for FY20, NLC will advocate for funding for these important water infrastructure programs.

The bill includes several other water infrastructure provisions:

  • Codifies the WaterSense program focused on water efficiency, which the President’s FY18 and FY19 budgets proposed to eliminate.
  • Creates a liaison within each EPA regional office for minority, low-income and tribal communities.
  • Creates a Stormwater Infrastructure Funding Task Force to include state and local officials to study and develop recommendations to improve the availability of public and private sources of funding for stormwater infrastructure.

Workforce development and training to support infrastructure investments is needed.

Nationally, one third of water and wastewater utility workers are eligible for retirement in the next five to ten years, far exceeding workforce replacement needs in other sectors. In some cities, such as San Francisco, that figure jumps to 50-60 percent of the workforce. This is of particular concern for mission-critical jobs, such as the skilled trades, because utility operations rely on those qualified staff around the clock. To address this workforce challenge, the America’s Water Infrastructure Act establishes a competitive grant program for workforce training and development within the water sector, authorizing $1 million for each FY19 and FY20. The competitive grant program will help train workers to build and repair water systems throughout the country, while providing pathways to careers with competitive wages and benefits.  NLC strongly advocated for the inclusion of this bipartisan program within the bill to ensure that cities can build and maintain their water workforce, enabling the provision of safe drinking water and wastewater systems, for years to come.

There is still more work to be done.

Two priorities that NLC advocated for are not included in the bill. First, NLC supports provisions that would ensure the full allocation of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) for its intended purpose of harbor maintenance. Taxes levied against importers and domestic shippers using ports and harbors in coastal and Great Lakes areas have created a large surplus in the HMTF, but only a portion is appropriated by Congress every year for operations and maintenance of the nation’s harbors.

Second, NLC continues to urge Congress to codify the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Integrated Planning Framework to allow local governments and water utilities to meet their requirements under the Clean Water Act in an efficient and cost-effective manner through the sequencing and scheduling of projects.

While the passage of America’s Water Infrastructure Act is a milestone that cities celebrate, we look forward to partnering with members of Congress to address these and other water infrastructure priorities.

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Idaho Rural Water Association receives grant for new workforce development & training center

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, October 11, 2018
 
The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded a $1.4 million grant to the Idaho Rural Water Association (IRWA) to help build a new workforce development and training center to educate current and future professionals responsible for the operation of Idaho’s drinking water and wastewater treatment infrastructure. 

The total cost of this project is estimated to be $1.8 million. The remaining $400,000 will be provided by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Rural Development’s Community Facilities Loan Program and will be repaid by the IRWA. 

IRWA is scheduled to break ground on the new facility and warehouse in the spring of 2019. It will be a 10,808 sq. ft. building in Ada County on Gowen Road and will house both indoor and outdoor training areas to accommodate classroom-style coursework and hands-on training for practical field experience. 

After many years of hard work and determination by the IRWA staff and Board of Directors, the vision of providing superior training opportunities for professionals in the drinking water and wastewater industry can now become a reality. Former Board Member Roland F. “Butch” Anderson was a driving force behind this project. Shortly after retiring from the Board in 2017, after 13 years of service to the Association, Mr. Anderson tragically passed away. The IRWA staff and Board of Directors are proud to dedicate this project to his memory. 

A 2017 survey conducted by the Association of Idaho Cities (AIC) listed the public works infrastructure as the #1 challenge Idaho cities are facing. It is critical that we have qualified drinking water and wastewater professionals to maintain the infrastructure needed to accommodate the state’s population growth. Since industry licensing requirements include a combination of both education and experience, there is a demand for more educational opportunities that provide an interactive training environment that allows both classroom and hands-on learning. 

AJ Gray, City Of Buhl, Idaho Water Superintendent said, “The IRWA has become the principal training entity for the water and wastewater professionals in Idaho. With the new facility, the opportunities to advance and provide continuous training to Idaho’s water and wastewater technicians will increase ten-fold. The vision of “hands on” training, technical support and regulatory training all under one roof will become a reality. Huge thanks to Shelley Roberts, IRWA CEO, her staff and previous IRWA Board of Directors for pursuing this dream.” 

This grant comes at a time when we are experiencing both national and local work shortages. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 8.2% of existing drinking water and wastewater professionals will need to be replaced annually between 2016 and 2026. The Idaho Department of Labor is projecting an overall shortage of approximately 50,000 workers in Idaho in the next 10 years. IRWA’s research found that 33% of Idaho’s licensed drinking water and wastewater professionals, those critical for the maintenance of utility infrastructure, are 56 years old or older. The solution to this forthcoming problem, in part, is the development of this state-of-the-art workforce development center. 

“The grant award announcement is welcome news for Idaho’s rural water systems and the communities that rely upon them. By establishing a workforce training center, Idaho’s rural communities will have a dedicated source of trained workers prepared to take on the management and challenges associated with rural water infrastructure,” said Idaho Senator Crapo. “Congratulations to the Idaho Rural Water Association for putting together a highly-merited proposal deemed worthy of investment by the Economic Development Administration.” 

In addition, the training center will also be used to recruit and train members of the Idaho Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (IdWARN) to help drinking water and wastewater facilities prepare for and respond to man-made or natural disasters. Additionally, the center will house specialized equipment that can be used by Idaho communities in the event of a disaster. A portion of the grant originates from the $600 million Congress appropriated for disaster relief and recovery as a result of wildfires, flooding and other disasters that took place during 2017. As a result of heavy snowfall, flooding and wildfires during 2017 in Idaho, the State declared nearly half of its 44 counties and 5 tribes to be under local or state disaster declarations due to weather-related destruction. 

The National Infrastructure Advisory Council’s (NIAC) 2016 report determined water service disruption directly impacts a variety of critical services including health care services, fire suppression, functionality of schools and government headquarters, as well as some manufacturing facilities and other businesses that may be rendered inoperable. The study also suggests the need to invest in water and wastewater infrastructure resiliency as a top national priority. 

“This investment will create jobs and energize rural water in Idaho and the industries it supports,” said Senator Risch. “I look forward to seeing the positive impact it has on our community and business development for years to come.” 
 

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Grangeville City Clerk-Treasurer Tonya Kennedy Takes the Reins as ICCTFOA President

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Grangeville City Clerk-Treasurer Tonya Kennedy was sworn in as the incoming President of the Idaho City Clerks, Treasurers and Finance Officers Association (ICCTFOA) at the September ICCTFOA Institute in Coeur d'Alene.

The ICCTFOA Board of Directors for 2018-19 is listed below.

Executive Officers

President: Tonya Kennedy, City Clerk-Treasurer, Grangeville

1st Vice President: Jennifer Belfield, City Treasurer, Ammon

2nd Vice President: Tami Testa, City Clerk-Treasurer, Council

Immediate Past Pres.: BessieJo Wagner, City Clerk, McCall

Secretary: Janet Montambo, City Clerk, Orofino

District Directors

District 1:   

Lori Yarbrough, City Clerk-Treasurer, Athol

Abbi Sanchez, City Clerk, Hayden

                                                     

District 2:   

Christina Bartlett, City Clerk-Treasurer, Elk River

Donna Wilson, City Treasurer, Orofino

 

District 3:   

Cami Hedges, City Clerk-Treasurer, Donnelly                                                                     

Holly Csencsits, Admin. Clerk II, Eagle

 

District 4:   

Lorna West, City Clerk-Treasurer, Hazelton                                                                                      Roxanne (Roxie) Bymun, City Clerk-Treasurer, Kimberly

 

District 5:   

Holly Powell, City Treasurer, Blackfoot                                                       

Shelley Reeves, City Clerk-Treasurer, Grace

 

District 6:   

Deborah Lovejoy, City Clerk, Rexburg

 Marianna Gonzalez, Deputy Clerk, Rexburg 

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Caldwell City Clerk Debbie Geyer Honored with Weatherby Award

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, October 3, 2018

At the recent Idaho City Clerks, Treasurers and Finance Officers Association (ICCTFOA) Institute in Coeur d'Alene, Caldwell City Clerk Debbie Geyer was honored with the Dr. James B. Weatherby Award for excellence, effectiveness and efficiency in city government.

The award is named after Dr. James B. Weatherby, former Director of the Public Policy Center at Boise State University and a past executive director of the Association of Idaho Cities.

Debbie Geyer is a native of Idaho; she was raised in Caldwell and is a graduate of George Fox University.  She has worked for the City of Caldwell for the past 17 years and was appointed City Clerk in 2005.  Prior to returning to the State of Idaho in 2001, Debbie and her husband lived in several different states and overseas posts as assigned by the U.S. Army while her husband served as a military chaplain. 

Debbie has worked extensively with non-profit and government agencies over the years in administrative capacities.  She is currently a member of several boards including the Idaho State Historical Records Advisory Board; Friends of the Caldwell Train Depot; the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary; the Caldwell Veterans Council and she chairs the City of Caldwell Youth Master Plan Committee.  Debbie was ICCTFOA President in 2013-14 and has also served on the City Clerks Technical Analysis Team of the AIC Legislative Committee.  Debbie enjoys being involved in community events, traveling, and speed walking.

Congratulations to Debbie Geyer for this well-deserved honor!

 

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Register Now for the AIC Fall Water Academies

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Association of Idaho Cities is excited to host five regional Water Academies this fall!

Each Academy will focus on water management and planning best practices - tailored to your city's and region's unique situations. Topics covered will include funding, risk management, and water supply and quality resources. Using an interactive format, presenters from AIC, ICRMP, Idaho Rural Water Association, and USGS Rural Development will be on hand to discuss statewide and regional water supply and quality issues, and provide key people within your city important planning, funding, and analytic resources that will help increase the sustainability of Idaho's various water resources into the future.

Target audiences include elected officials, city clerks, and utility operations managers and contract engineers.  Please forward this invitation along to your team of experts!

See the flier for more information, or go directly to the AIC website to register:
Registration:  www.idahocities.org/water 

 

aic_water_academy_flyer.jpg

 

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LHTAC Funding Workshops Coming to a City Near You

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC) is doing a series of regional 3-hour workshops that cover all of their funding applications, including the surplus eliminator funded Local Strategic Initiatives and Children Pedestrian Safety Programs. Also, learn about other programs and services LHTAC provides to local highway jurisdictions.

These FREE workshops are open to everyone: sponsors, clerks, consultants, local elected officials etc.


Please RSVP so LHTAC can plan refreshments and seating accordingly. Although an RSVP is appreciated, it is not required to attend
.

Please forward to any others who may be interested in attending.

http://lhtac.org/lhtac-news/lhtac-october-2018-workshops/

Tuesday, October 9
2 to 5 p.m.
Cottonwood Community Center
506 King Street
*Cottonwood, ID

 RSVP Here https://doodle.com/poll/4v8ekuvrpciynhyh

 

Wednesday, October 10
7:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Moscow City Hall
206 E. 3rd St
*Moscow, ID

RSVP Here https://doodle.com/poll/mb5wyumtiib36rfw

 

Wednesday, October 10
2 to 5 p.m.
NEW LOCATION
City of Sandpoint
1123 Lake Street
Sandpoint, ID

RSVP Here https://doodle.com/poll/qzet6mixxavqfsgw

 

Thursday, October 11
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wallace Inn
100 Front St.
*Wallace, ID

RSVP Here https://doodle.com/poll/5h7k92a5yuuu3bhc

 

Tuesday, October 16
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Donnelly Community Center
169 Halferty St.
*Donnelly, ID (Lunch Provided)

RSVP Here https://doodle.com/poll/s3777kdswrcyts9m

 

Thursday, October 18
9 a.m. to Noon
ITD D3 Office
8150 Chinden
Boise, ID

RSVP Here https://doodle.com/poll/f2kqy6bze6kkzdx3

 

Tuesday, October 23
1 to 4 p.m.
First Federal Conf. Rm
383 Shoshone Street North
Twin Falls, ID

RSVP Here https://doodle.com/poll/2bdb64pycrmskp4u

 

Wednesday, October 24
8:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Arco Butte Business Incubation Cntr.
159 N. Idaho Street
Arco, ID

RSVP Here https://doodle.com/poll/zgfmsk8ykktvy7qv

 

Wednesday, October 24
2 to 5 p.m.
City Hall Chambers
420 North Bridge Street
*St. Anthony, ID

RSVP Here https://doodle.com/poll/s3xfm82ikbs24kru

 

Thursday, October 25
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
ITD District 5 Office
5151 S. 5th Ave.
*Pocatello, ID (Lunch Provided)

RSVP Here https://doodle.com/poll/t6pefutibg4bxhac


*These workshops will coincide with regional transportation meetings being held at the same location either immediately before or after the LHTAC workshop.

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Funding Opportunity: Senior Corps Program

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Corporation for National and Community Service is accepting grant applications for its Senior Corps Program through Wednesday, November 7, 2018.  Over $340,000 is available for the State of Idaho.  Detailed information about the grant can be be found in the Notice: Fiscal Year 2019 RSVP Competition.

 

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Nationwide Emergency Alert System and Wireless Alert System Test - Scheduled for October 3, 2018

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Monday, October 1, 2018

This Wednesday there will be a test of the country's wireless emergency alerting system for ALL cell phones!

For more information, click HERE.

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Speaker Series: Microgrid, Storage, & Smartgrid - Driving Innovation for a Secure and Prosperous Idaho

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Monday, October 1, 2018

Mark your calendars for  a FREE Idaho Energy Innovation event scheduled for Boise on October 10th and Idaho Falls on October 11th!

Military, corporations and governments in the U.S. and around the world are turning to microgrids, storage and local renewable energy resources to increase security and optimize economics. With abundant  opportunities for solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass, Idaho is well positioned to take advantage of the rapidly growing markets for renewable energy. Idaho’s energy independence increases energy security, reliability, jobs and state income.

BOISE - Wednesday, Oct 10, 2018, from 1 to 2:30 PM

Hyatt Place, Meeting Place 1, 1024 W Bannock Street


IDAHO FALLS - Thursday, Oct 11, 2018, from 1 to 2:30 PM

Center for Advanced Energy Studies, 995 University Boulevard

*Snacks will be served for networking after; INL & CAES tours available in Idaho Falls

 

Confirmed Speakers:

Todd Haynes, Renewable Energy Project Manager, Power Engineers

Kurt Myers, Renewable Energy Project Manager, Idaho National Laboratory

Kate Gordon, Founding Director, Risky Business Project

Mitch Colburn Resource Planning and Operations Director, Oct 10

Jared Hansen, Transmission and Distribution Planning Engineer Lead, Oct 11

 

Register HERE

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WIFIA Information Session - Join EPA in Seattle on October 11th

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program seeks to accelerate investments in our nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally significant projects.

In April 2018, EPA announced the availability of additional WIFIA funding that could provide as much as $5.5 billion in loans. Leveraging private capital and other funding sources, these projects could support $11 billion in water infrastructure investment and create up to 170,000 jobs. Prospective borrowers responding to the 2018 NOFA were required to submit a letter of interest by July 31, 2018.

EPA is currently evaluating the submitted letters of interest for project eligibility, credit worthiness, engineering feasibility, and alignment with WIFIA’s statutory and regulatory criteria. Through this competitive process, EPA selects projects it intends to finance and invites them to submit a formal application this fall.As of now, the only project submitted from Idaho is for the Cat Creek Renewable Generation Station (CCRGS).

Join EPA on October 11th for a WIFIA Information Session to find out whether these funds might be a good fit for your Idaho utility.

Background
Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a new federal loan and guarantee program at EPA that aims to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. 

Congress created the WIFIA program at EPA with a five-year authorization as part of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act in 2014. A product of close collaboration between multiple water sector stakeholders and bipartisan infrastructure advocates in Congress, WIFIA was carefully designed to complement EPA’s existing State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs, which predominantly help communities undertake relatively modest infrastructure improvements necessary to achieve or maintain compliance with public health and environmental standards.

The general focus of the SRFs on smaller-scale projects is evidenced in EPA’s data and state practices. For example, EPA’s 2016 Drinking Water SRF Annual Report shows that through June 30, 2016 the DWSRF had provided a total of nearly $32.5 billion in funding assistance to communities nationwide through 12,827 individual assistance agreements – an average of just over $2.5 million per loan. Small communities serving 10,000 people or fewer received 9,044 of these assistance agreements since the program’s inception – about 70 percent – while metropolitan water systems serving more than 100,000 people obtained a total of 897 DWSRF loans through 2016.

In contrast, WIFIA was designed to deliver low-cost financing for large-scale drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects expected to cost in excess of $20 million. But cities and towns of all sizes are eligible to take part in WIFIA, and the program offers special eligibility incentives to rural communities: at least 15 percent of annual WIFIA funding is reserved for projects in rural areas (defined as communities serving not more than 25,000 people), and these projects need only cost at least $5 million – rather than $20 million – to qualify for funding. Congress also included a specific provision in the WIFIA statute that allows state SRF agencies to compile multiple small projects into a single WIFIA application, creating yet another avenue for small communities to access the program.

Congress made its first appropriation to support WIFIA loans in 2017, and after receiving 43 initial letters of interest EPA invited 12 projects to apply for funding. Those loans are beginning to be finalized, and in the program’s first year WIFIA is expected to offer a total of $2.3 billion in water infrastructure loans – all from an initial FY17 appropriation of $25 million. The March 2018 enacted FY18 omnibus appropriations bill more than doubles funding for WIFIA loans to $55 million – and in April EPA announced the availability of approximately $5.5 billion in new WIFIA credit assistance that  could help support about $11 billion in total water infrastructure investment.  

 

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