Category Archives: Water and Economics

Items related to government budgets, grants, user fees, costs, and other aspects of paying for water supplies, water quality, or aquatic habitats.

Virginia Clean Water Financing Programs under the Va. Dept. of Environmental Quality, as of March 2017

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), on behalf of the State Water Control Board and with financial management by the Virginia Resources Authority, operates several water-quality financing programs under the collective term of the Virginia Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund (VCWRLF).

Previously known as the Virginia Revolving Loan Fund, the VCWRLF began in 1987 with a focus only on low-interest loans to localities for wastwater system infrastructure improvements.  As of March 2017, the VCWRLF includes not only the Wastewater Loan Program but also the the Brownfield Loan Program, the Land Conservation Loan Program, the Stormwater Loan Program, the Living Shorelines Program, and the Water Quality Improvement Fund, and the Agricultural Best Management Practices Program (suspended indefinitely).

Information about these programs is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/CleanWaterFinancingAssistance.aspx; or by contacting Walter A. Gills, Program Manager, Department of Environmental Quality, Clean Water Financing & Assistance Program, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA  23218; phone (804) 698-4133; e-mail: Walter.Gills@deq.virginia.gov.

More information about the Virginia Resources Authority is available online at http://www.virginiaresources.org/.

“Water is Life” is the Theme of the Annual SERCAP Meeting and the Focus of the Organization’s Mission

April 19, 2017, is the date for this year’s annual “Water is Life! Luncheon and Conference” held by the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, Inc., or SERCAP, located in Roanoke, Va.

This year’s event marks the 48th anniversary of SERCAP, whose mission is to help provide safe and adequate water and wastewater, community development, environmental health, and economic self-sufficiency to rural citizens in seven southeastern states: Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.  SERCAP is one of six rural community assistance projects in the United States.

More information about SERCAP and the annual luncheon/conference—at the Sheraton Roanoke Hotel and Conference Center—is available online at http://www.sercap.org/, or contact SERCAP at 347 Campbell Avenue, Roanoke, VA 24016; phone (540) 345-1184.

Water for Tomorrow photo
“Water for Tomorrow,” an influential 1988 report on water and wastewater needs by locality in Virginia, was published by the Virginia Water Project, the predecessor to SERCAP.

Virginia’s and the Nation’s Infrastructure Gets Graded by the American Society of Civil Engineers – 2017 Edition

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publishes a “report card” on the state of engineered infrastructure in the United States.  The report covers infrastructure in aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, ports, public parks and recreation, rail, roads, school facilities, solid waste, transit, and wastewater.  The latest national report (as of March 13, 2017) gave a grade of D+, the same as the grade in 2013.  The report estimated the cost of making necessary infrastructure improvements at $4.59 trillion, compared to the 2013 estimate of $3.6 trillion.  The full national report for 2017 is available online at http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/.  A chart of results from previous reports–back to 1998–is available online at http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/making-the-grade/report-card-history/.

According to the “What Makes a Grade” section  of the Report Card Web site, grades were assigned based on capacity to meet current and future demand, condition, funding, future needs, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation.  The grades are described as follows: A = exceptional; B = good; C = mediocre; D = poor; F = failing.

The 2017 national report also includes reports for each state.  As of 3/13/17, the Virginia assessment was a 2015 report compiled by the Virginia Section of the ASCE (ASCE-Va.).  The Virginia report is available at http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/state-item/virginia/.  The Virginia report give the Commonwealth an overall grade of C- (compared to a D+ in 2009), and the following grades in each category: aviation = no grade; bridges = C; dams = C; drinking water = C; energy = no grade; parks = C+; rail and transit = C-; roads = D; school facilities = C-; solid waste = B-; stormwater = C-; and wastewater = D+.

Infrastructure cartoon

Cartoon that accompanied a February 2010 Virginia Water Central newsletter article on the 2009 infrastructure report by the American Society of Civil Engineers-Virginia Section.  Illustration by George Wills, Blacksburg, Va. (http://www.etsy.com/people/BlacksburgArt).

$4 Million in Community Development Block Grants Announced by Va. Governor’s Office on Feb. 6, 2017, Include Three Related to Water/Weather

On February 6, 2017, Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office announced that over $4 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) had been awarded to nine Virginia localities for 10 projects in economic-development, water/sewer infrastructure, and neighborhood revitalization projects.

The water- and weather-related grants included the following:
$879,760 to Appomattox County for relief work after the February 24, 2016, tornado;
$387,500 to Buchanan County for the Coon Branch waterline extension project;
$500,000 to the Northampton County town of Exmore for a well and water-treatment facility.

CDBG grants are federally funded, awarded competitively, administered in Virginia by the Department of Housing and Community Development, and designed to assist primarily low- and moderate-income communities.  More information about the CDBG program in Virginia is available online at http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/index.php/business-va-assistance/blighted-structures/community-development-block-grant-cdbg/10-community-development-block-grant-cdbg.html.

Source: Governor McAuliffe Announces More Than $4 Million in Community Development Block Grants; Ten projects address community economic development, water and sewer service, local innovation, and urgent needs in nine localities, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 2/6/17.

Grants for Dam Safety and Flood Protection Available from Va. DCR in 2017; Deadline to Apply is Mar. 31, 2017

On February 21, 2017, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) announced the availability of $1.2 million in grants to dam owners and local governments from the Virginia Dam Safety, Flood Prevention and Protection Assistance Fund.  The deadline to apply for grants in this cycle is 4 p.m., March 31, 2017.  The grant manual is available (as a Word document) online at www.dcr.virginia.gov/form/DCR199-219.docx.

Following is an excerpt from the DCR’s news release on the grants:
“The [grant] fund is managed by the Virginia Resources Authority on behalf of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.  All grants are reimbursements and require a 50 percent match.  The maximum amount per grant will be determined based on amounts requested from eligible projects, application scores and available funds. …Grants are offered in two categories:
1) Dam safety grants are available to private dam owners and local governments for dams that have been under a regular or conditional certificate during the past 12 months.  If the applicant’s dam is not under a certificate, detailed documentation must be provided to demonstrate the steps being taken to bring the dam under certificate.  Grants may be used for dam break inundation zone analysis, mapping and digitization; probable maximum precipitation impact analysis and certification; hazard classification analysis; emergency action plan development; spillway capacity analysis; dam engineering and design activities; and other projects as specified in the grant manual.
2) Flood prevention and protection grants are available to local governments and can be used for community outreach and educational programs; ordinance development and revision; development of flood cost reduction and resiliency standards; locality flood warning and response systems; or improvements to floodplain programs.

More information is available in the grant manual (at the link mentioned above), or phone (804) 371-6095.

More information the DCR’s Dam Safety and Floodplains Program is available online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dam-safety-and-floodplains/.

Source: Grants available for dam and floodplain projects, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation News Release, 2/21/17.

Water in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly: Land Preservation Tax Credit Bills

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about 165 water-related bills in the 2017 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm.  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

SB 963, Land preservation tax credit limitations per taxpayer.  Sponsored by Sen. Emmett Hanger, Jr. (R-24th District), of Mount Solon, passed the Senate and House and was approved by the governor.  The bill extends to taxable year 2017 the $20,000 limit on the amount that a taxpayer may claim per year under the land preservation tax credit, retaining the $50,000 limit for each subsequent taxable year.

HB 1470, Land preservation tax credit limitations.  Sponsored by Del. R. Lee Ware (R-65th District), of Powhatan, this bill failed in the House Finance Committee.  The bill would have imposed a $2 million limit on the amount of credits that may be claimed for each land conveyance; a $20,000 limit on the annual amount of credits that may be claimed by each taxpayer; a $50,000 cap on the annual amount of credits that may be claimed for a fee-simple donation of land to the Commonwealth; and a $50 million cap on the maximum annual amount of credits that may be issued to all taxpayers.

HB 2150, Land preservation tax credit limitations per taxpayer.  Sponsored by Del. Lashrecse Aird (D-63rd District), of Petersburg, this bill failed in the House Finance Committee.  This bill was a companion bill to SB 963 (see above).

SB 1540, Certain tax credits aggregate caps.  Sponsored by Sen. Glen Sturtevant (R-10th District), of Midlothian, this bill failed in the Senate Finance Committee.  The bill would have reduced the total aggregate caps of the historic rehabilitation tax credit, the research and development expenses tax credit, the major research and development expenses tax credit, and the land preservation tax credit over a period of 10 years, so that no credits were available for any of the credits beginning in 2027.

Related News Media Item

Va. Senate panel kills Sen. Glen Sturtevant’s bill to cap and phase out historic rehab tax credits, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/31/17.

Virginia Environmental Endowment Marks 40th Anniversary on February 1, 2017; Founding Originated from Kepone Contamination of James River

On February 1, 2017, the Virginia Environmental Endowment observes its 40th anniversary, and the event was recognized in a proclamation from Gov. Terry McAuliffe.  Following is some key information about the VEE, excerpted from the governor’s proclamation; the full proclamation is available online at https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/proclamations/proclamation/40th-anniversary-of-the-virginia-environmental-endowment/.
“[The Virginia Environmental Endowment was created on February 1, 1977, as a nonprofit grant-making organization for the purpose of improving the quality of Virginia’s environment.

“[The] initial funding for the Endowment arose out of an environmental enforcement action surrounding the polluting of the James River with the pesticide Kepone, and additional funds from other environmental settlements expanded the Endowment’s grant-making capacity to include the Kanawha and Ohio River Valleys of Kentucky and West Virginia.

“[The] mission of the Endowment is to improve the quality of the environment by using its capital, expertise, and resources to prevent pollution, conserve natural resources, and promote environmental literacy.

“[The] Endowment has awarded over 1,200 grants to nearly 500 partner organizations totaling over $27 million since 1977 [and…] the Endowment leveraged its funding to achieve over $70 million in environmental improvement.”

More information about the VEE is available online at http://www.vee.org/; or contact the organization at P.O. Box 790, Richmond, VA 23218-0790; (804) 644-5000; e-mail: info@vee.org.