Louisiana has received the Federal Register for the $1.2 billion Federal funds (view here LWI Federal Register Press Release). The Federal Register is the document that State Officials were eagerly anticipating as it detailed the rules and requirements for the disbursement and spending of the LWI funds. These funds are being dispersed through the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development as Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funds (CDBG-MIT). The CDBG program is well known to communities, municipalities and government entities throughout the state as a block grant program to assist with various types of community improvement projects.
The CDBG program was enacted in 1974 to fund local community development activities with the stated national objectives of:
a. providing benefit to low- and moderate-income persons;
b. preventing or eliminating slum and blighting conditions;
c. addressing a severe and recently arising urgent community welfare or health need
CBDG funds are available for pursuit via grants, but are closely controlled and all grant applications (including these MIT funds) are required to include a benefit-cost analysis (BCA) which quantifies the community benefit from the proposed project. In addition to the stated goals of CDBG, the CDBG–MIT funds are broadly defined in the federal registry as means to “carry out strategic and high-impact activities to mitigate disaster risks and reduce future losses.”
“Most Impacted and Distressed Areas”
The Federal Registry states that half of the funds appropriated must go to the following Most impacted and Distressed Areas (MID): East Baton Rouge, Livingston, Tangipahoa, Ouachita, Lafayette, Vermilion, Acadia, Washington and St. Tammany Parishes. See map of MID Areas below
The LWI published their Notice of Federal Award (NOFA) on August 15th. This document was the first publication describing the LWI’s goals, objectives, requirements, timeline, etc. The document can be accessed here LWI NOFA. The primary goal of the LWI is “to enable a stable, long-term entity, or watershed coalition, that is capable of performing watershed region management activities aligned with the mission of the LWI.” Milestones are below
• March 20, 2020: Deadline to hold the first meeting of the regional steering committee.
• July 31, 2020: Deadline to produce a regional watershed project list.
• Jan. 15, 2021: Deadline to hold the first watershed coalition meeting.
• Oct. 31, 2022: Deadline to expend all funds provided by this program.
See Timeline image below
Region 5 Applicant & Application Timeline
To participate in the LWI and pursue funding opportunities, Watershed Regions must identify a single applicant to act on the Region’s behalf. This applicant must be a public entity located within the region in which it will be conducting program activities. Through various discussions with representatives from a majority of the parishes in Region 5 over the past month, a consensus was reached that the Acadiana Planning Commission (APC) is the most viable existing agency to act as Region 5’s applicant. Though it is not final, it has been discussed that a governing body comprised of Region 5 parish representatives may be formed within APC. While APC acts as the applicant, the board acts as the operational lead of Region 5’s LWI activities. I remind you all again, this is only conceptual. More discussion must take place amongst Region 5 leadership to determine the final Region 5 management structure.
The next milestone for applications is an October 1, 2019 Letter of Intent (LOI). The LOI must be submitted by each Region’s applicant (APC for Region 5). This simply gets each Region “in the game” with a public entity identified to administer the program. See below for the Application Timeline
Tomorrow, Monday September 16th is an applicant briefing at the LaSalle Building – Griffon Room located at 617 N Third St, Baton Rouge, LA. Register here if you plan to attend https://watershed.la.gov/applicant-briefing
Action Plan Public Input
The LWI has recently scheduled public input meetings on this action plan described above. The meetings will be held from September 19th to September 29th at 4 locations across the state: Lafayette, West Monroe, Baton Rouge and Mandeville. Learn more about the scheduled events or to submit comments online here https://watershed.la.gov/action-plan