One of the most critical elements to ensure a successful application for Water Bank financing is assembling your application team. On one hand, while it can be difficult to get the correct partners at the table, it also essential to identify and coordinate which municipal employees, consultants and non-profit partners have the experience and knowledge of the project and the Water Bank application process prior to beginning the application process. For example, many Municipal Utilities Authorities, sewer departments and departments of public works have experience applying to the Water Bank for gray infrastructure projects, and as such are excellent resources and potential partners. To date, all successfully funded Water Bank applications for green infrastructure projects have utilized consultants and/or institutional or non-profit partners.
In addition, be sure to communicate with the Water Bank agencies - I-Bank and DEP - during the pre-application process, as they are critical partners in ensuring the success of your application funding. As noted in the "Eligible Applicants" section above, DEP recommends that potential applicants participate in a pre-application meeting or conference call prior to submission of a formal application for a Water Bank loan to determine whether their project meets project requirements and to explain all loan application documents. The Water Bank can also send a team to visit with your municipality and learn more about your proposed project.
H2LOans is the online portal for the Water Bank funding application. It is located online at www.h2loans.com. Project Sponsors call the I-Bank to establish an account, at which time, I-Bank staff will review and set up the following user roles and create the project with the appropriate representative of the project sponsor. The H2LOans application portal prompts applicants for information about their project team. Therefore, prior to beginning an application, ensure that you have the following team members identified:
|Authorized Official||The Authorized Official is the person responsible for setting up an organization's account in the H2LOans system. This person must be a fulltime employee of a project sponsor/applicant's organization, who is authorized to obligate the organization. The Authorized Official designates the Authorized Representative. The I-Bank has developed a short video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgDDV_SyqL0 for tutorial for authorized officials here. Examples of Authorized Officials may include an administrator, manager, CFO, director, or other person with the authorization to enter into a contract with the Water Bank.|
|Authorized Representative||Authorized Representatives function as the sponsoring organization's internal project manager. The Authorized Representative must be a fulltime employees of the sponsoring organization, and may be an administrator, manager, CFO, director or Professional Engineer (directly employed by municipality). They are responsible for designating Collaborators and submitting any uploaded and final documentation. Authorized Representatives are designated by the Authorized Official and will be notified via e-mail of their designation as well as provided with a link with instructions on how to logon to H2LOans and activate their account.|
|Collaborators||Collaborators include any individual involved in a project who is to have access to the on-line H2LOans system to facilitate the design, construction, financial or legal work associated with such project. Collaborators are designated by an Authorized Representative and will receive an email from the system notifying them of their designation as well as provided with a link with instructions on how to logon to H2LOans and activate their account. Collaborators often include: Consultants, non-Profits or University partners, Cooperating Departments (to include Engineering, Water, Sewer, Public Works, Finance).|
Many municipalities and utility authorities choose to supplement their in-house team with experienced consulting firm to assist with the development of their application for Water Bank funding. In fact, all applicants for Water Bank financing utilize consultants for some aspect of their loan application. There are many consulting firms that have the institutional knowledge and experience to successfully develop a municipality's Water Bank application. The types of consulting firms you may want to consider include the following:
TIP: LOOK FOR CONSULTING FIRMS THAT HAVE DEMONSTRATED EXPERIENCE SUBMITTING SUCCESSFUL APPLICATIONS SPECIFICALLY FOR WATER BANK (FORMERLY NJEIFP) FINANCING.
Make Sure That You Have a Strong Staff Lead. The most successful applicants are very hands-on with their consultant(s), actively manage them, and have frequent communications as to application status of outstanding submissions requirements (or deficiencies) and Water Bank communications as to outstanding submission obligations.
Finally, keep in mind that you don't have to be a large municipality or MUA to use consultants. Many smaller municipalities have close relationships with their consultants and have enjoyed a successful partnership that has secured Water Bank financing for environmental infrastructure projects. In fact, consultants can make it easier for small municipalities to navigate the process.
Many successful applicants for green infrastructure financing have attributed their success to their partnership with a non-profit or institutional entity. In fact, some applicants suggest that unless a project is over $1 million, it is hard to justify the fixed program costs, unless you are working with an institutional or non-profit partner who can assist with applicant components. Examples of statewide institutional or non-profit partners who have assisted with past application for green infrastructure projects include Rutgers Cooperative Extension, the New Jersey Tree Foundation, and the New Jersey Water Association.
The Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) Water Resources Program provides green infrastructure planning and design support to CSO communities. For more information on RCE's New Jersey Technical Assistance Program for Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) communities OR if you are a CSO community and wish to obtain technical assistance with planning and design for a green infrastructure project, visit their website at http://water.rutgers.edu.
In addition to providing technical assistance for green infrastructure in CSO communities, RCE has developed several green infrastructure resources, which can be found on their website. These include the Green Infrastructure Guidance Manual, Green Infrastructure Guidance for Reducing the Impacts of Impervious Cover on Water Quality, and the Rain Garden Manual of New Jersey.
The NJ Tree Foundation is a state-wide nonprofit dedicated to planting trees in New Jersey's most underserved neighborhoods. The Tree Foundation is "greening the Garden State" through rain garden construction, vacant lot stabilization and fire wise gardens. To date, they have planted over 250,000 trees across the state. Through their Green Streets program, NJ Tree Foundation can assist with the design, construction and maintenance of rain gardens and street tree plantings.
Finally, there are numerous non-profit groups or collaborations that work on green infrastructure projects in certain areas of the state or in specific cities. For example, Jersey City regularly partners with the Jersey City Parks Coalition on green infrastructure projects in the City's parks. To find a non-profit near you that may be interested in partnering on your project, contact your local environmental commission or DEP staff.
The New Jersey Water Association (NJWA) is a statewide non-profit offering training & technical help to water and wastewater utilities in New Jersey. NJWA provides training and technical assistance to small, public water systems to achieve and maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and to small and rural wastewater treatment and collection systems through the Wastewater Technical Assistance Program and the Wastewater Training and Technical Assistance Program (both funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service). Finally, NJWA offers a Source Water Protection Program to develop a source water protection plan that reflects the needs of the local community.
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