The Public Facilities Authority (PFA), the agency responsible for helping cities pay for water infrastructure, recently released its intended use plans (IUPs) for the Clean Water Fund and the Drinking Water Fund. Last week, Elizabeth Wefel of Flaherty & Hood P.A. sat down with PFA Executive Director Jeff Freeman and several of his staff members to discuss the IUP, the Point Source Implementation Grant (PSIG) program and the agency’s 2020 bonding request.
The PFA’s initial bonding submission is its largest yet at $200 million for the biennium: $25 million for the state’s match on federal grants, $100 million for the Water Infrastructure Fund and $75 million for the PSIG program. The PFA will meet with the Governor’s office and Minnesota Management & Budget in October to discuss this request as the Governor puts together his bonding bill.
The PFA established the amount for its bonding request based on what is needed to keep up with requests from local governments. Its goal is to obtain enough funds so that any project that is ready to go can be funded without having to wait. The amount reflects the increased number of proposed projects on the IUP, which is at its highest level since federal stimulus funds were last available in 2011. Freeman attributes the largest number of new projects to aging infrastructure, but he also mentioned that new wastewater permit limits for phosphorus, chloride and other pollutants are contributing to the higher number of projects.
Opportunities for controlling costs were also discussed. Freeman mentioned that long-term asset management can help cities get costs under control. The PFA offers loans to help pay for this planning.
Freeman also noted that he believes funding for storm water infrastructure will become more important in the coming years. With large weather events, storm water can have negative impacts on wastewater and inflow & infiltration infrastructure. Current state programs are not well designed to help pay for storm water projects, however. Freeman believes more conversation is needed around this issue.