Grants for Homeowners, Renters, & Businesses with Contaminated Private Wells

   

What is it?

Rep. Shankland has been advocating for this program for years and is pleased to update you on a new supplementary $10 million grant program she helped launch this year. This new program will support the replacement, reconstruction, treatment, or abandonment of contaminated private wells in Wisconsin. The program expands eligibility beyond the current Well Compensation Program to support more private well owners and increase access to clean drinking water. Visit the DNR website for more information and the full details of this new program. 

Key changes to existing eligibility criteria:

  • No longer required that a nitrate-contaminated well is only eligible if it is used as a water supply for livestock.
  • The nitrate threshold for nitrate-contaminated wells has been lowered from 40 ppm to 10 ppm.
  • The arsenic standard for arsenic-contaminated wells has been lowered from 50 ppb to 10 ppb.
  • Any source of bacterial contamination that presents a human health risk is now eligible for the program.
  • The family income limit for grants has been increased from $65,000 to $100,000.
  • There is no longer a requirement that an award must be reduced by 30 percent if the owner or renter of the well has a family income that exceeds $45,000.
  • Eligible applicants have been expanded to include owners of contaminated non-community wells (churches, daycare centers, rural restaurants and other small businesses).
  • Income eligibility will be based on the business owner’s income instead of family income.

 

Funding and award amounts:

  • There is approximately $10 million available for the program. The DNR estimates the ability to fund an additional 1036 awards, a mix of Well Compensation awards and Well Abandonment awards.
  • The maximum award amount under the program would be $16,000.
  • The cost share requirement under the program would be $0 (fully funded up to $16,000).

 

Deadlines and contacts:

  • The department has a Gov Delivery list. Interested parties can sign up here: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/WIDNR/subscriber/new. Under the “Grants and Loans” category, check the box next to ARPA Well Grant.
  • Questions surrounding the program and eligibility can be directed to the Wisconsin DNR.
  • DNR begins accepting applications October 3, 2022 and will issue awards on a continuous basis until all funding is expended.
  • Prepare your application materials ASAP! This program is first-come, first served and is one-time funding, so it’s important to apply as soon as possible.

 

Application Materials:

  • Applicants need to test their wells twice, at least two weeks apart to show contamination. Samples must have been collected within the last 2 years to be used for the grant application.
  • Applicants will also need to provide income eligibility paperwork, such as a State of Wisconsin Income Tax Return for the prior year.
    • If your current income changed significantly from what was reported on your last year’s income tax report, due to job loss or retirement, you should also complete and submit an Affidavit of Income Exempt Filing, an Affidavit of Income Reduction, OR an Affidavit of Projected Income for Current Year.
  • Applicants will need to submit an ARPA Well Compensation Grant Application Claim or an ARPA Well Abandonment Grant Application Claim, which are forms provided by the DNR.
  • Applicants will also need a copy of a well construction report for the existing contaminated well, a detailed description of all feasible alternatives, and an itemized cost estimate for the selected alternative.
  • Lastly, applicants will need to submit a complete W-9 form to allow for grant payment.

 

FAQ:

  • Do tests taken at county fairs and town halls from the local health department count?
    • As with the existing Well Comp program, the ARPA Well Compensation Grant Program will require that a well is contaminated by an eligible contaminant as verified by two water samples taken at least two weeks apart, but no more than two years ago. The water must be tested by a laboratory certified under s. 299.11.
    • In Portage County, the UWSP Water and Environmental Analysis Lab is a great option! You can contact them at 715-346-3209 or weal@uwsp.edu.
  • What kinds of items are grant eligible?
    • Water tests that determine if the well is contaminated;
    • Reconstruction of a contaminated well;
    • Construction of a new well;
    • Connecting to an existing private or public water supply;
    • Installation of a new pump, including the associated piping for a replaced well;
    • Proper abandonment of a contaminated well;
    • Equipment for water treatment (if no other option is feasible); and
    • Providing a temporary bottled or trucked water supply.
  • Other-than-Municipal (OTM) Community public water systems, such as mobile home parks, are not eligible under this program.
  • Does the program cover filters and other upkeep expenses for reverse osmosis systems?
    • Should it be determined that a reverse osmosis system is the best option to remedy the contaminated water supply, the grant would cover the cost of the system and the initial filter only. Once those costs are incurred and it is determined that the water is no longer contaminated, the grantee would submit a reimbursement request, receive payment, and the grant would end. Future costs for additional filters, new membranes, scheduled maintenance, etc. would not be grant eligible and would be the responsibility of the individual who owns the system.
  • Can I receive a grant for work I have already done?
    • There is no retroactive eligibility. Only work conducted after the grant is approved will be eligible.
  • How do I submit an application?
    • Applicants can submit their application form and all additional materials either by email or by mail.
    • Applications are located on the DNR’s website.
    • Online applications can be submitted to: DNRARPAWellGrants@wisconsin.gov
    • Paper applications must be mailed to: Well Grant Intake, WI DNR - DG/5, PO Box 7921, Madison WI 53707 
  • If I am seeking a reverse osmosis system, do I need a cost estimate before applying? If so, are there any requirements on who that estimate needs to come from?
    • Yes, the DNR will require an itemized estimate of the cost for the system from the company selling/installing the system.
  • Is the report from the well driller eligible for reimbursement?
    • The time it takes to prepare the well report is covered under administrative costs.
  • How do I know if I am eligible?

 

You can also always contact my office at (608) 267-9649 or Rep.Shankland@legis.wisconsin.gov with any questions you may have!