During the pandemic, some low-income Vermont homeowners saw their income disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and had their on-site water (such as wells) or wastewater systems (such as septic tanks and leach fields) fail. Many of these residents are not able to pay for system replacement or repairs, find it challenging to navigate the regulatory landscape necessary to construct a replacement system, have trouble accessing on-site water and wastewater professionals, or have limited access to information about the true costs of on-site water and wastewater solutions, which in addition to capital costs, often include “hidden” operation and maintenance costs.
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ARPA Funding Overview
The Governor proposed $3 million in ARPA funding to provide safe and reliable drinking water sources and wastewater disposal systems for Vermonters disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The General Assembly provided an initial $1 million to support this work. Additional funding is anticipated in future fiscal years. This funding will ensure residents have access to safe, reliable drinking water and adequate wastewater disposal.
This program will provide financial assistance to residential property owners, including owner-occupied multi-family properties with up to four units. The Agency of Natural Resources will provide ARPA funding to owner/applicant-occupied single and multi-unit residential properties that have failing or inadequate on-site water and/or wastewater systems.
Eligibility requirements are being developed to align with other financial assistance programs. Currently, non-owner-occupied properties such as commercial or rental properties, or seasonally occupied properties are not anticipated to be eligible. Tiered awards are under consideration, with the maximum award being 50 percent of total project costs.
ARPA funds will help disadvantaged communities address the public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and help protect them from future crises.
Many people with failed on-site water or wastewater systems know that they have an expensive problem and can feel powerless. Providing these funds to individuals to cover design and construction and by having a sliding scale for increased assistance as household income decreases, property owners are empowered to solve the situation. We also propose to expand eligibilities and audiences by the creation of a beneficiary program. Multilingual outreach will specifically target underserved and minority applicants to address equity considerations and environmental justice challenges.
Current onsite wastewater financing resources are summarized in this fact sheet prepared for the Lake Champlain Basin Program area.
More Information on existing funding and technical assistance for water infrastructure projects.
In the fact sheet, the home repair loan program offered by the Champlain Housing Trust for residents in northwestern Vermont is also available in the rest of Vermont by other local groups within The NeighborWorks® Alliance of Vermont http://www.vthomeownership.org/ This NeighborWorks® program and other programs listed on the fact sheet are all offered state-wide.