Utility Funnels Federal Funds to Customers’ Sewer Lateral Replacements

Little Rock, Arkansas’ reimbursement program was one of five projects given ‘exceptional’ honors by the EPA for its innovative use of State Revolving Fund loans

Utility Funnels Federal Funds to Customers’ Sewer Lateral Replacements
Homeowners are responsible for hiring a contractor to replace their sewer lateral then can receive reimbursement up to $2,500 through the utility.

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The Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority in Arkansas has spent millions of dollars rehabbing its collections system, all aimed at meeting a consent order to reduce I&I and put a stop to manhole overflows.

But those efforts eventually reached a point of diminishing returns. The utility decided to turn to a different source of I&I — customers’ portion of the laterals running to the sewer main. The utility devised a reimbursement program to entice customers to replace their laterals that began in January 2013.

It was that program that recently received “exceptional” honors from the EPA, which recognized 28 different innovative projects that make use of the federal low-interest loan program, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Little Rock’s sewer lateral replacement program was one of five projects deemed “exceptional.”

The program reimburses homeowners up to $2,500 after their service lateral has been replaced by a contractor and inspected by the utility. Homeowners are responsible for hiring the contractor. Funding for the reimbursement is a combination of a State Revolving Fund loan and revenue from a $1 surcharge on each customer’s sewer bill. Initially, only the $1 surcharge was being used to supply the reimbursement fund, but under new State Revolving Fund project eligibilities, Little Rock was able to also add those funds to the pot. The utility uses eye-catching colorful inserts included with sewer bills to encourage customers to take advantage of the program.

According to the EPA, “Because State Revolving Funds were loaned to the utility, the innovative reimbursement structure allows individual homeowners, who are not usually eligible for State Revolving Fund assistance, to benefit from the low-interest loan program.”

Learn more about how Little Rock’s program works here: www.lrwu.com/sslrp.

MSWmag.com will be continuing to take a closer look at some of the innovative State Revolving Fund projects recently recognized by the EPA in the coming weeks.



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