Getting a low-interest loan from Ohio EPA’s Water Pollution Control Loan Fund Program (WPCLF) or from the Water Supply Revolving Loan Account (WSRLA) can go faster by understanding the who, what, when and how of the loan application process.
Who is eligible to receive a loan? On the WPCLF (or wastewater) side, any public entity — such as a city, village, county or a water and sewer district — may apply for a loan. On the drinking water (or WSRLA) side, the same entities, plus any private, not-for-profit entity that supplies water to a public group (such as mobile home parks, etc.), may apply for a loan.
What type of project is eligible for a WPCLF or WSRLA loan? On the wastewater side, any type of project resulting in a water quality improvement and that helps eliminate point or nonpoint sources pollution is eligible. For drinking water projects, those helping to achieve/maintain compliance with drinking water standards and protect human health are eligible. Examples include improvements or expansions of wastewater and water treatment plants, new/replacement sewers and water distribution lines, separation of combined sewers, and water towers. An applicant may apply for a specific planning, design or construction loan, or combine funding for all activities into a single loan.
When and how do you start the process of getting a loan? In both programs, the first step is to nominate a project for ranking and inclusion on the Intended Projects List (IPL) for that program year. For the WPCLF, the program year is January 1 – December 31. For WSRLA loans, the program year runs from July 1 – June 30. Each year, a call for nominations with the dates for submittal is emailed to interested parties and posted on our website. Typically, the WPCLF nomination period occurs during August of the preceding year, while the WSRLA nomination period normally begins in mid-January and ends March 1 for the upcoming program year.
Once your project is placed on the IPL for that program year, the next step is usually to begin working with your DEFA project team. Each WPCLF project team includes a project coordinator, an environmental planner and an engineer from DEFA’s Office of Financial Assistance (OFA). For drinking water projects, staff from the Division of Drinking and Ground Waters (DDAGW) join the DEFA coordinator and planner to form the WSRLA project team. A team member will contact you to begin the review process.
The first major step in the review process generally involves project planning. For design and/or construction loans, applicants will typically submit planning documents describing the problems to be addressed, alternatives that were considered, and the basis for selecting a specific course of action. Engineering studies, general plans, facility plans, master plans or similar documents/reports are examples of the project planning we seek. As needed, DEFA staff will help guide you through the scope of planning work appropriate for your project. Once adequate planning information has been submitted and reviewed, the applicant can start working on the detailed design aspects of the project. Following completion of the planning process, and concurrent with design work, you will also be submitting the actual loan application for financing from the WPCLF or WSRLA. This application contains the loan amount requested, the term of the loan, a schedule and other legal, financial and administrative information that help determine, among other things, a community’s ability to repay the loan and its legal authority to enter into a loan agreement with Ohio EPA.
DEFA project teams work closely with the applicant’s loan team (including local officials, engineering/environmental consulting firms and others) during the review process to keep moving toward loan award. While an applicant will initially submit a schedule with the nomination form, that schedule may change throughout the project/loan review process, so monitoring schedules is critical. There is some flexibility within both programs as to when loan awards can occur, but it must be within that program year, or a new nomination or a new schedule will need to be submitted. However, when evaluating a proposed loan award schedule with an applicant, we try to ensure that both the community and Ohio EPA have sufficient time for discussion, information exchange and review of the proposed project, with the goal always being to have all our reviews and approvals completed in sufficient time for the applicant to receive a loan award when it is ready to proceed.
Applicants can successfully obtain a loan by planning ahead, learning program requirements, monitoring project schedules and communicating with us throughout the application process. If you need more information about successfully navigating DEFA’s loan programs, contact Kevin Spurbeck at firstname.lastname@example.org or (614) 644-3645.