Idaho’s budget plans call for $300 million of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, estimated at $1.1 billion, to be spent over the next five years to upgrade drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities.
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director Jess Byrne recently told his Legislature’s budget committee the money would be distributed in grants “prioritizing small systems that can’t afford necessary upgrades.” Byrne noted that his agency received 263 letters of interest for funding totaling more than $1.4 billion for water and wastewater projects, compared to the usual 70 or so letters of interest.
Idaho’s DEQ has worked with its Association of Idaho Cities and the Idaho Rural Water Association and others to get the word out about possible funding availability and has also provided $1.2 million in planning grants to help communities develop funding requests.
An Idaho Press article notes the Governor is recommending a $44 million transfer from the state general fund to Idaho DEQ’s Water Pollution Control Account that would provide state matching funds for $253 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, in addition to the ARPA funding. Byrne noted that for every dollar of matching funds, “we get almost $6 in return to help communities.”
Idaho DEQ’s budget proposal includes $70 million in ARPA funds over five years to close landfills and clean up abandoned mines and contaminated sites in the state.
Including federal funds, Idaho DEQ’s overall budget request is $144 million, double the previous year’s budget. Byrne acknowledges the increase to his agency’s overall budget while also noting that “most of this is ARPA funding that would be just passed through DEQ to address community needs related to water, wastewater, and contaminated sites.
Idaho lawmakers will consider the request in votes expected later in February.