Public can comment on ranking system for utilities funding

RALEIGH –The Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Infrastructure announced Monday that public comments are being accepted on a draft priority rating system for ranking wastewater and drinking water construction projects for funding from the Viable Utility Reserve.

Comments may be submitted until 5 p.m. Nov. 1.

The North Carolina General Assembly created the reserve in 2020 to assist local governments with utilities that are designated as distressed by the State Water Infrastructure Authority and the Local Government Commission. Under the law, the division must rank each application for authority review. The authority must consider the division’s ranking when it reviews an application.

The division and the State Water Infrastructure Authority use a priority rating system for projects seeking funding through the State Revolving Fund and State Reserve programs. This priority rating system is being considered by the authority for use in ranking applications to the reserve. The authority tasked the division with seeking public comment on the use of this rating system for reserve-funded construction projects.

Officials said the proposed rating system prioritizes assistance to community applicants with greater socioeconomic constraints. Under Category 4 of the proposed rating system, applicants from local governments that are smaller in size, charge higher water/wastewater rates, and/or have at least three indicators worse than state benchmarks (lower median household income, higher poverty rates, higher unemployment, lower population growth, and/or lower property valuation per capita) score higher, as they receive additional points in their applications.

Comments can be submitted in the following ways:

  • By email to [email protected] with subject line “Draft VUR Priority Rating System Comments.”
  • By phone to 919-707-9187.
  • By mail to Cathy Akroyd, Division of Water Infrastructure, 1633 Mail Service Center,       Raleigh, NC 27699-1633.

The draft VUR Priority Rating System for wastewater and drinking water projects is available at: https://files.nc.gov/ncdeq/WI/vur/Draft-Priority-Rating-System-for-VUR-projects-with-addtl-footnote-language.pdf.

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