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Project Ranking and Disadvantaged Status

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) federal requirements stipulate that states must utilize a priority ranking system that, to the maximum extent practical, prioritizes use of funds to projects that address the most serious risk to human health; are necessary to ensure compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act; and assist systems most in need according to the state’s affordability criteria.

Additionally, states are required to establish a definition of disadvantaged community based on the service area of a public water system that meets affordability criteria established by the state. 

Oregon’s process for meeting these federal funding requirements is summarized below. Continuous process improvements are made to ensure program goals are accomplished.

Project Ranking and the Project Priority List

Each eligible project is rated, ranked, and placed on the Project Priority List. Rating points are assigned based on the five (5) rating categories listed below. 

1. Risks to Human Health & Health Protection (40 points Max)
2. Compliance with Safe Drinking Water Act (30 points Max)
3. Consolidation of Two or More Systems (20 points Max)
4. Water System Size (5 points Max)
5. Community Affordability - includes community MHI, poverty and unemployment rate (25 points Max)

Specific rating questions for each category and the associated rating points are detailed in Oregon’s Intended Use Plan as approved by the USEPA. Visit the Intended Use Plan website for more details.   

At the end of the rating process, projects are placed on the Project Priority List in rank order. Projects ranked highest on the list receive funding priority with consideration given to readiness to proceed.

Definition of Disadvantaged Community

Section 1452(d)(3) of the Safe Drinking Water Act states that the term “disadvantaged community” means the service area of a public water system that meets the affordability criteria established by the state.

Oregon DWSRF’s affordability criteria define Disadvantaged Community as “a public water system with a service area that has a Medium Household Income (MHI) less than the state MHI”.

Disadvantaged Status for the Purpose of Subsidy Award

Subsidy in the form of forgivable loan award targeted specifically to disadvantaged communities is a characteristic of the “base” Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund program, also known as the Safe Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund that is managed by Business Oregon.  

Subsidy for disadvantaged communities is also a characteristic of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding that will be administered under the DWSRF. A key priority of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) is to ensure that disadvantaged communities benefit equitably from this historic investment in water infrastructure. Therefore, federal funding requirements stipulate that a significant portion of funds be provided in the form of loan subsidy to disadvantaged communities as defined above.

For each eligible project placed on the Project Priority List, the Disadvantaged Community status of the public water system is identified and considered for additional subsidy when the project is funded.

Oregon’s Intended Use Plan provides detailed information on this process.