Federal Agreement on Water Infrastructure Disaster Response Benefits Nebraskans
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality Director Jim Macy commended a new agreement between U.S. EPA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to speed the availability of funding used to restore vital water infrastructure in times of disaster.
The federal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishes a framework for EPA-funded State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs to assist and collaborate with FEMA disaster assistance grant programs. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) has state revolving funds available for communities whose water systems were impacted by historic flooding.
“This agreement is important because it helps provide recovery funds more swiftly for our local infrastructure needs, such as the restoration of drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities impacted by the flood,” Gov. Ricketts said. “It’s a great example of the ongoing federal, state and local cooperation which is helping Nebraska rebuild bigger and better after the most widespread natural disaster in our history.”
The MOU also ensures that communities that receive SRF loans will still be eligible for FEMA reimbursement.
“This MOU allows state agencies to better serve our communities impacted by federally declared disasters," Macy said. "The clarity that this MOU provides will allow state SRF programs to offer 0% bridge loans so communities can deliver clean drinking water and effectively manage wastewater to help our communities recover quickly and return to normal operations. Reliable infrastructure is the key to community success."
These SRF funds will act as an interim loan for communities that were impacted by the March floods until they receive reimbursement from FEMA. Then, those FEMA funds can be used to pay off the SRF loan. When communities repay SRF loans, those funds go back into the SRF to sustain the program for future loans.
Jim Gulliford, Region 7 Administrator, also stated that the agreement is beneficial from a regional perspective.
“This comes as welcomed news for our Midwest states that have been hit hard by the spring 2019 floods,” Gulliford said. “The flexibility to use state revolving funds to restore vital water infrastructure, coupled with the opportunity to seek reimbursement from FEMA, is a win-win for our communities.”
The MOU and a fact sheet are available here.