Expanded internet, clean water part of Better Kentucky Plan

Gov. Andy Beshear has announced a Better Kentucky Plan that will help Kentucky create 14,500 jobs and build better schools, expand internet and deliver clean drinking water and quality sewer systems across the commonwealth.

The plan’s $250 million Cleaner Water Program is the first program to accept applications since Gov. Beshear and Kentucky lawmakers reached a bipartisan agreement at the close of the 2021 General Assembly to invest nearly $700 million in federal relief funds for infrastructure initiatives.

“Quality drinking water and well-maintained sewer systems are fundamental to keep Kentuckians safe and to build a better Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear. “This funding boost will make a real difference in cities and counties across Kentucky while also creating more than 3,800 direct and indirect jobs. This announcement is another win for Team Kentucky, and we are well on our way to leading in the post-COVID economy.”

Water Resource coordinators, representing Kentucky’s 15 Area Development Districts and Area Water Management Councils, may submit project profiles through the Water Resource Information System portal to indicate interest in funding from the Cleaner Water Program. Eligible government agencies, such as city-owned water or sewer utilities, water commissions, water and sewer districts, and counties, may collaborate with a coordinator and council to submit a project. There are 713 public drinking water and wastewater utilities in Kentucky.

“Normally, when we do these projects, the cost would end up on your water bill,” Beshear said.  “This is a chance for us to upgrade our systems without raising costs on Kentuckians. It’s a real chance to be transformative.”

Funded by the American Rescue Plan Act and administered by the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority, or KIA, $250 million has been appropriated for clean drinking water and wastewater grants to fund projects across Kentucky. Funding will be allocated in three ways:

–$150 million will be allocated based on each county’s proportion of the state’s population, with the exception of Jefferson County’s share, which is discounted by 50% based on its high per capita allocation from the federal act. A list of the allocations by county can be found here.

–$50 million is available for grants to utilities to provide drinking water services to unserved, rural customers or to utilities under a federal consent decree. The KIA shall consider social, economic, and environmental benefits in determining the allocations.

–$49.9 million is available to supplement a project grant for a project with a cost in excess of a county’s allocation amount and other available grant sources. The social, economic, and environmental benefits shall be considered in determining project allocations. KIA will receive $75,000 to administer the grant program.

The application process will continue until all funding is committed. KIA will begin reviewing projects this summer and make awards continuously throughout the year. All grant awardees must obligate the funds by December 31, 2024.

More information on the Cleaner Water Program, plus grants for broadband expansion, school facility upgrades, and vocational education center renovations are at https://governor.ky.gov/BetterKy/.