State invites SD water projects to apply as they may be funded through COVID-19 aid

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PIERRE, SD (KELO) – The state government plans to spend a portion of federal coronavirus money on water projects in South Dakota.

The governor and the legislature must now decide how much and how quickly. The catch: the federal government says the money must be spent by the end of 2026.

The calling On Tuesday, the state Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources went out to apply for potential projects to be included in the state’s water plan.

The timing coincided with a meeting on the same day between the recently created legislatures COVID Relief Liaison Committee and two of Governor Kristi Noem’s top officials.

State Treasury Commissioner Liza Clark and DANR Secretary Hunter Roberts sat down with lawmakers to discuss using one of the state’s latest coronavirus aids for long-term benefit.

Secretary Roberts delivered a Presentation special about how his department through its engineers and the state Water and Natural Resources Authority, currently funds water and sanitation projects through a combination of soft loans, grants and loan waivers.

Legislators also received a briefing from Legislative Research Council staff who deal with federal guidelines through state and local tax refund funds; a 61-page summary COVID-19 funding in South Dakota; and a 3-sided look at government funding for Drinking water and wastewater projects.

The state government distributed nearly all of the $ 1.25 billion federal COVID-19 aid that South Dakota received from Congress through the CARES bill in 2020. This year, Congress distributed another round of coronavirus aid as part of the American Recovery Plan. The state government of South Dakota received $ 974.5 million, the counties $ 171.8 million, and the cities $ 103.8 million.

Senator Lee Schoenbeck, the chairman of the COVID committee, said he was aware of lawmakers planning to submit spending requests for water projects during the 2022 session.

Commissioner Clark said the governor hopes to work with the legislature on process and direction for the 2022 meeting on coronavirus spending: “I would hope we don’t testify on 50 laws that say, ‘This is against the law ‘. “

Secretary of State Roberts said state government buildings that require water system replacement are also eligible for coronavirus funding. He said DANR has received or is aware of billions of dollars in potential water projects. “We know there are a lot of unknown funding requests,” he said.

Senator Schönbeck asked if the need to spend the coronavirus money by the end of 2026 would affect how many water projects can participate. Secretary of State Roberts said it depends on how much lawmakers give to his department. He said $ 50 million would be gone quickly.

Schoenbeck said “it is pretty clear” that the legislature leadership and / or the co-chairs of their grants committee must sit down with the governor’s supreme government. Clark said the meeting could take place in mid-November. The governor’s budget address is in early December.

Schönbeck asked if the legislature would hinder the process if the spending power is not granted until March, when the legislature changes the current state budget and approves the next annual budget, and not in January. “The sooner the better,” replied Roberts. He noted that two tranches of federal aid money are coming.

“Usually people don’t ask for things until they’re ready to shovel,” Roberts said of the current state water plan. Clark said she needs to know more about how many water projects there might be and how much they might cost before she can recommend whether the spending authority should be done in a year or spread over several years.

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