Frequently Asked Questions for the CPA Program

General guidance on eligibility criteria, applications and approvals.

What is this program?

The Construction Project Assistance Program provides grants and low-interest loans to projects that build and enhance drinking water infrastructure in New Hampshire. Projects that improve water quality, increase the viability and longevity of an existing drinking water system, or create or expand a water system to meet capacity needs may apply to this program. Regionally significant projects that enable the State to meet present and future drinking water needs are most competitive for funding.

Where does the money for the program come from?

The State of New Hampshire sued the manufacturers of a gasoline additive, MtBE, because of contamination to the state’s drinking water and groundwater. All of the manufacturers settled, except for ExxonMobil, who went to trial and was found guilty. The State was awarded $276 million, which established the Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund (DWGTF), and now the DWGTF finances the grants and loans for the Construction Project Assistance Program.

How is the DWGTF different from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program?

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program (DWSRF) receives funding from the federal government, whereas the DWGTF was established with funds from a lawsuit against Exxon-Mobil for drinking water and groundwater contamination with MtBE. Because the DWSRF receives money from the federal government, loan recipients are subject to federal provisions, including Davis-Bacon Act Prevailing Wage Rates, use of American Iron and Steel, and utilization of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises. Recipients of DWGTF loans and grants are not subject to the DWSRF requirements with two exceptions: Every project funded by the DWGTF must:

  1. Undergo an Environmental Review according to federal guidelines.
  2. Develop an Asset Management Plan for the funded asset.

I’m a municipality applying for funding. This question on the application asks how many primary residences are served. How do I answer this?

If you are a municipality, you do not need to worry about this. Simply input your town’s population referencing current census data.

How is the DWGTF different from the MtBE settlement money?

The money associated with the MtBE settlement is restricted to projects addressing groundwater contaminated by MtBE. Monies from the DWGTF may be used to address any type of groundwater or surface water contamination. The DWGTF can also fund a variety of other drinking water infrastructure projects.

What types of projects may apply to the Construction Project Assistance Program?

This program provides loans and grants to projects that build and enhance drinking water infrastructure, improve water quality, increase the viability or longevity of an existing drinking water system, and enable the State to meet present and future drinking water needs by creating new, or expanding capacity of existing systems. Projects that involve the design, assembly, building, acquisition, alteration, remodeling, improvement, or extension of components of an existing or new water system to meet these objectives may apply:

  • Address drinking water contamination.
  • Interconnections or consolidation of water systems.
  • Expand existing or create new community water systems to serve an existing water supply need or anticipated future need.
  • Promote economic development and/or workforce housing for the State by improving water system accessibility and/or increasing capacity to areas without access to a public water system.
  • Rehabilitation of drinking water reservoir dams.
  • Construction, expansion or rehabilitation of monitoring well systems at well fields.
  • Any construction project eligible under the NHDES Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
  • Any other construction project fulfilling the requirements of RSA 485‐F:4, VII(a).

Who is eligible to apply?

Eligible applicants include any state agency, board, or commission; a person or legal entity that owns a community water system or water distribution system; and non‐transient, non‐community water systems owned by a nonprofit organization.

When do I apply?

Annual Round

The Advisory Commission holds a competitive funding round annually. The typical schedule is:

  • Summer: The Advisory Commission coordinates with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) to establish funding priorities for the application timeline. NHDES announces a request for proposals, posts the solicitation for applications on the DWGTF website, and hosts an informational webinar for stakeholders.
  • October: Applications are due to NHDES usually in mid-October.
  • November: NHDES and a designated subcommittee of the Commission meet several times to review and prioritize the projects for funding based on the evaluation criteria in the Advisory Commission Construction Project Assistance Rules
  • December: The subcommittee presents the funding recommendations, and the Advisory Commission votes. NHDES sends award notification letters to applicants.
  • Spring: Applicants approved for funding must submit an final application with an authority to accept the funds to move forward with Governor and Council approval.
Special Projects

Applications may be submitted outside of the annual round for certain qualifying projects that are time sensitive. The Advisory Commission determines whether a project may be considered for Special Project Assistance on a case-by-case basis using these criteria:

  • Drinking water contamination.
  • Time criticality.
  • Financial hardship.
  • Economic growth.

Please discuss your project and coordinate with NHDES staff before submitting a Special Project Assistance Application.

Should I apply as a special project or wait for the annual round?

The intention of the Special Project Assistance Program (SPA) is to allow for time-sensitive or otherwise urgent projects to apply out of sync with the annual round. Applications for the annual round are typically due in October, so between August and October, NHDES encourages all projects to apply to the annual round.

How do I apply?

The digital application must be filled out on the NHDES Online Forms webpage. To use the Online Forms system, you will need to create a username and log in. Please contact the program specialist with questions on how to use our online forms or fill out the application at


Who is the applicant?

The applicant should be the public water system (PWS) – town, water district, homeowners' association, cooperative – that is to receive funds. If you have a property management company that manages your utilities, they can assist in the application, but the water system must be the applicant.

Are matching funds required?

While there is no set amount of match requirement, the Advisory Commission will prioritize projects that have significant matching funds or stakeholder investment (reasonable water rates and/or adequate loan request). A goal of the Advisory Commission is to sustain the longevity of the DWGTF by leveraging outside funds to the greatest extent possible. This may be investment from the applicants’ own funds, private developer contribution, and/or loans or grants from other programs. Applicants that demonstrate they have exhausted all applicable outside funding sources will be more highly considered for funding.

What other sources of funding should I apply for before applying to the Construction Project Assistance Program?

  • Drinking Water State Revolving Loan (DWSRF), which currently has loans available under the base SRF, Emerging Contaminants, and Lead Service Line Replacements Programs.
  • NHDES PFAS Remediation Loan Program.
  • USDA-Rural Development.
  • Community Development Block Grant.
  • Northern Borders.

How much grant versus loan should I request in my application?

To be competitive for a grant, applicants should demonstrate how the project meets the following conditions. Projects that meet multiple criteria listed below will be prioritized by the Advisory Commission for grants funds. Projects that meet any of these conditions will be prioritized for some grant.

  • Project results in the removal, reduction, or mitigation of contamination related to groundwater or drinking water defined as a documented exceedance of a regulated drinking water Maximum Contaminant Level and/or water quality standards.
  • Project will result in the interconnection or consolidation of two or more public water systems (PWS).
  • Project has regional significance by expanding an existing or creating a new community water system to address current or future supply needs or extend to areas impacted by contamination.
  • Project promotes economic development and/or workforce housing for the State by improving water system accessibility and/or increasing capacity to areas without access to a PWS. Provides matching funds (while there is no minimum match requirement, the Advisory Commission ranks projects higher that have secured and/or exhausted all other funding sources).
  • Provide evidence that the project cannot be completed without grant assistance.

What if the PWS serves mostly second vacation homes?

Grants will be prioritized for systems that serve primary homes of New Hampshire residents, defined as a community where at least 50% of the residential units are occupied by residents who live in their fixed and permanent homes. Community Water Systems that serve greater or less than 50% primary homes may apply for funding but should ask for a loan.

Can projects that only address infrastructure upgrades receive grant funding?

For projects that solely address infrastructure upgrades to be considered for a grant, the applicant must demonstrate financial hardship (defined as less than the state MHI of $83,449 using the 2017-2021 American Community Survey data) and/or stakeholder investment in the system with a reasonable Affordability Index (water rates/MHI is greater than 1.5). Infrastructure upgrade projects that do not address one of the grant priorities listed above and are not a financial hardship case will not receive high priority for a grant and should request a loan.

What are the benefits of a DWGTF loan?

The DWGTF offers below-market loan rates with no closing costs, no origination fees and no prepayment penalties. Disbursement requests can be made as project costs are incurred, and interest on disbursements is only 1% until the project reaches substantial completion. Loan repayments do not begin until up to one year after substantial completion. NHDES staff assistance is available through every step of your project. This includes project planning and administration, design review, environmental review, and construction and compliance oversight.

What terms are available for loans?

Loan terms from the Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund (DWGTF) are set at 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 years and cannot exceed the useful life of the system improvement(s) as determined by NHDES.

What is the current interest rate?

The interest rates are updated annually based on the 11 Bond Index published the last week of July. The current interest rate is 3.5%. Rate is locked in on the date that NHDES sends your loan documents for your review.

I already received funding from the DWGTF, but due to increasing construction costs, my budget is short. Can I apply for gap funding?

Yes, please be sure to fill out the funding table accurately. Include this in the project description and justification section.

What if the Median Household Income for my water system is much less than the Town’s?

If your Median Household Income (MHI) is less than your town’s, include an Income Survey through the ROC-NH to support your grant application. 

Or, contact Erick Toledo at RCAP Solutions. RCAP Solutions, Inc. is a free technical service provider that can assist you with the collection and analysis of the survey.

My project is trying to identify a new potential source and/or does not have a specific work location yet. What do I put for project location on my application?

This is a text box, so you can describe this however you’d like or are able to. Give us as much detail as possible about your project and the location/s where work will occur.

Who makes the funding decisions?

A subcommittee of the Advisory Commission reviews and ranks each application for funding. The subcommittee presents funding recommendations to the Advisory Commission, and the Advisory Commission ultimately votes on the funding awards.

What should I expect after I submit my application?

It will take a few months from the time you apply to the time you hear if your project was awarded funding. In December, you will receive a Letter of Notification from NHDES stating whether your project was selected by the Advisory Commission. If your project is selected to receive funds, the DWGTF Program Specialist or DWGTF Administrator will be in touch with you to guide you through next steps.

If I am awarded funding, what are the next steps?

To accept your funding offer, you must first submit a Drinking Water Infrastructure Final Application with the required attachments. All loans and grants must be approved by the New Hampshire Governor and Executive Council (G&C) for the applicant to enter an agreement with the State. Once NHDES receives the final application, we will draft the loan and grant agreements and send to the applicant for signatures. The G&C process takes 10 to 12 weeks after NHDES receives the signed documents. It is important to take this time into account when coordinating design and construction, and disbursement of funds.


Does my project require an environmental review?

Yes, an environmental review is required for all water infrastructure construction projects receiving funding assistance through the DWGTF. This review evaluates the potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the funded project to ensure that it meets all federal, state and local requirements, and environmental regulations. Part of the process involves a public announcement of the project to provide the opportunity for public comment. NHDES serves to coordinate the environmental review process with the applicant and issue an environmental determination (Categorical Exclusion or Finding of No Significant Impact), or a requirement for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement.