Local governments, special purpose and public service districts as well as public works commissions may apply directly to RIA for grant funding. Local governments may also apply for grant funding on behalf of not-for-profit water and sewer companies that serve the local government. For-profit utilities are not eligible for RIA grant funding.
Basic and Economic Infrastructure grant funds may be used to build, upgrade, improve or extend publicly owned water, sewer and storm drainage infrastructure throughout the state. Grant funds from these two programs can only be used on construction activities.
Regional Feasibility Planning grant funds may be used for engineering, financial and other consultant costs associated with preparation of studies. Studies should assess the technical, operational and financial conditions of one or more systems and evaluate the alternative courses of action, including at least one regional approach, in order to provide recommendations that will lead to greater long-term viability.
All grantees must share in the cost of the project.
Recipients of Basic and Economic Infrastructure grants must cover non-construction costs related to the project. In addition, grantees in Tier I and II counties must provide a 25% match of the total project construction cost. While local and other grant or loan funds may be used to meet these requirements, applicants should ensure that all necessary funding is secured before submitting an RIA grant application.
For Regional Feasibility Planning grants, if all study participants are located in Tier I and II counties, the grantee must provide funds for 25% of the total planning cost. If any participant is located in a Tier III or IV county, there is no match requirement for planning grants.
While grant application deadlines are generally in September and March of each year, specific due dates are announced at the beginning of the state’s fiscal year in July. Applications received after the announced deadline will be considered in the next funding round. There are, however, circumstances when grants may be awarded at other times of the year. These include projects that require a more timely response to: (1) address an imminent public health or environmental threat that requires immediate action or (2) ensure job creation and investment opportunities in a community. Applications that do not require an immediate response will be considered in the next competitive funding round.
All applications are initially reviewed for completeness, eligibility and consistency with program objectives, priorities and guidelines. Qualified projects are prioritized based on a comparative evaluation of need, feasibility and impact of the submitted information. The RIA Board of Directors considers all qualified projects and makes the funding decisions.
All applicants will be notified in writing and the selected projects posted on the RIA website. As the review process takes time, funding decisions are normally made about 10 weeks after the application deadlines.
There are a number of reasons why a grant application may not be funded. They include: the applicant was not eligible; the project was not eligible; available funding was exhausted; the application was not complete; or the project lacked other required funding. In all cases, RIA staff will contact the unfunded applicant to discuss why the application was not funded and provide technical assistance on how to strengthen the request.
Because RIA grants are state-funded, federal grant program requirements do not apply. However, if a project is jointly funded with a federal source, then federal requirements may be applicable. Contact RIA for more information.
Applicants can generally only submit one application per program category. In instances where a local government is applying on behalf of a not-for-profit water or sewer company, it may submit an application(s) for itself and for the not-for-profit company(ies). If an additional application is warranted to address an imminent public health or environmental threat or to ensure job creation and investment opportunities, then additional applications in that program category may also be accepted. If an applicant is applying on behalf of another eligible applicant with which it has a new (or recent) partnership agreement, multiple applications in a single category may be considered.
Once a grant is awarded, it should generally be completed before another application is submitted in the same program category. Consult RIA to make a determination of eligibility.
Each grant is awarded for a set period of time, during which all project activities must be completed; permits to operate must be issued for construction projects; all project funds must be spent and documented; the project records must be reviewed by RIA staff; and the final close-out report must be approved. The standard grant period for each category is listed below, although RIA may deviate from these standards when there are special circumstances:
Engineering costs are not eligible for the Basic and Economic Infrastructure programs.
The Regional Feasibility Planning grant does cover engineering or other consultant costs associated with carrying out qualified planning studies.
Counties, municipalities, special purpose districts, commissions of public works or joint regional entities as established by state law (Title VI, Chapter 25).
The Drinking Water State Revolving fund was created in 1997 under the Safe Drinking Water Act to fund drinking water infrastructure projects. The Clean Water Revolving Fund was created in 1987 under the Clean Water Act to fund a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects including publically-owned treatment works and non-point source pollution projects.
Interest rates have been set annually in October for new loans based on a discount to the Bond Buyer Revenue Bond Index. In FY22, standard interest rate is 1.50%. The SRF offers other discounted rates based on certain priorities such as helping smaller systems, takeover of inadequate systems, and on a limited basis rates for projects that use green best practices or stormwater projects.
Loan term is generally 20 years although it can be extended up to 30 years, not to exceed the useful life of the component.
When all or a portion of a project is eligible for a term of 30 years, a premium of 20 basis points will be added and applied to the 30 year amount for the entire 30 year term. The loan amortization can be blended based on the useful lives of different components in a project.
Shorter terms are available, with interest rates lowered by 20 basis points for a term of 8 to 14 years and by 40 basis points for a term up to 7 years.
There is no penalty for early pay-off of the full outstanding principal amount of a loan or for partial pre-payments.
A non-refundable loan closing fee of 0.35% of the loan amount is assessed on all FY 2022 loans to support the costs of administering the program. The fee is due at loan closing and cannot be financed within the loan.
A loan application should be submitted to RIA 30-60 days prior to the submission of plans and specs to DHEC. Once a loan application is complete, which includes the construction permit, loan commitment generally occurs within two weeks.
Eligible drinking water projects include drinking water treatment/storage/distribution projects, water conservation projects, and source water protection projects. Relocation of water lines due to road widening projects are also eligible but projects solely for growth, fire protection, routine operation and maintenance, equipment, dams and surface water reservoirs are NOT eligible.
Eligible clean water projects include construction of publically-owned treatment works, nonpoint source projects, stormwater projects, watershed pilot projects, energy efficiency and water reuse. Projects not supported by the Section 208 Water Quality Management Plan or related to routine operation and maintenance are NOT eligible. Growth projects are eligible but are a lower priority.
Actual engineering costs for which there is clear documentation of expenses incurred solely for the qualified project are eligible so long as the invoices or payments for such services are dated no earlier than 36 months from the date of the final loan application.
Yes, SRF funding can be combined with other local, state and federal funding sources.