NADB established the Border Environment Infrastructure Fund (BEIF) to administer grant resources provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the implementation of high-priority municipal drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects in the U.S.-Mexico border region. This webpage outlines the eligibility criteria, authorized uses, and procedures for accessing EPA funds administered through the BEIF.
The objective of the BEIF program is to make infrastructure projects affordable for communities throughout the U.S.-Mexico border region by combining grant funds with loans and other forms of financing. It is designed to reduce project debt to a manageable level in cases where utility customers would face undue financial hardship and projects could not be implemented.
General Eligibility Criteria
Only water and wastewater infrastructure projects located within 100 kilometers (62 miles) of the U.S.-Mexico border will be considered for funding. BEIF funds may be used to support projects that serve a single community or regional approaches that serve multiple communities and/or outlying areas. Eligibility is based on a set of general project criteria.
- Projects must address an existing human health and/or ecological issue. Priority will be given to those projects likely to have the most impact.
- Projects must have a U.S.-side benefit. Priority will be given to projects with benefits on both sides of the border.
- Only projects certified by the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) will be selected.
- Priority will be given to projects with maximum funding from other sources and where program funding (BEIF) is necessary to complete financing of the project.
- Adequate planning, operations and maintenance, and pretreatment provisions are prerequisite to detailed design and construction financing.
- Community infrastructure only will be selected.
- For drinking water projects, drinking water quality projects only will be selected, not raw water supply. Therefore, only drinking water treatment plants and treated water distribution systems will be covered.
- Projects where the discharge is directly or indirectly to U.S. side waters, must target achievement of U.S. norms for ambient water quality in U.S. side waters, although infrastructure development may be phased over time. Any flow reductions that result from implementation of non-discharging alternatives must not threaten U.S. or shared ecosystems.
- Project funding intended for U.S. colonias will not be available unless the state, county or respective municipal government has established an enforceable local ordinance, or other zoning rule, which prevents the development or construction of any additional colonia areas or further development within an existing colonia without necessary infrastructure.
Project Prioritization and Application Process
Because water and wastewater infrastructure needs in the U.S.-Mexico border region exceed available grant funds, EPA uses a prioritization process to identify and select projects with the most critical public health and environmental needs. The process allows the program to target limited funding to projects with the highest benefit in terms of public health and environmental risk, cost-effectiveness, institutional capacity, and sustainability. EPA, with BECC assistance, conducts the prioritization process every two (2) years. For more information on the prioritization and application process, contact BECC.
General Funding Requirements
Projects selected to receive a BEIF grant must complete project development activities, including obtaining environmental clearances and finalizing design, as well as obtain project certification from BECC and sign the grant agreement with NADB within two and a half (2.5) years of receiving notification of project selection. Moreover, the project must be able to complete construction within three (3) years following the signing of the BEIF grant agreement for construction funding.
Project Cost & Complementary Funding
The cost of any project shall not exceed US$30 million. Project sponsors are generally expected to finance part of the project with a debt component and must be able to confirm the commitment of other funding sources to complement the BEIF grant prior to certification.
In order to ensure the protection of infrastructure associated with BEIF funding, all project sponsors must have made or be willing to make adequate provisions for pretreatment of industrial/commercial sewage prior to construction financing. Also, EPA requires the incorporation of appropriate cost-effectiveness and sustainable building principles into all phases of project development—planning, design and construction. Project sponsors may consult with the BECC for more details regarding these policies.
Project sponsors are responsible for the procurement of all goods and services related to the project. However, procurement of goods and services with BEIF funds must be carried out in compliance with NADB Procurement Policies and Procedures.
Determination of Grant Amount
Once the final design is complete, NADB conducts a comprehensive financial analysis of the project, utility and community that takes into consideration eligible projects costs and the availability of other funding. During the analysis, NADB identifies the project sponsor's maximum debt capacity and works with the sponsor to develop a financial plan for constructing the project. NADB then determines the amount of BEIF grant necessary to make a project affordable and to complete the financial plan. However, the BEIF contribution for any project cannot exceed US$8 million. For Mexican projects, NADB coordinates with the Mexican national water agency, Comisión Nacional de Agua (CONAGUA), and ensures that the requirement for matching funds is met. All BEIF funding proposals are prepared by NADB on a case-by-case basis and are subject to final approval by EPA.
Uses of Funds
BEIF resources may be used to help make projects affordable through two financial mechanisms, as follows:
- Transition assistance is designed to ease a community’s adjustment to higher user fees over time. Grant funds are used to help pay system debt up to a seven year period, so that user fees may be gradually raised to the level required for the system to become self-sustaining with proper operations and maintenance. Transition assistance is only available for projects located in the United States.
- Construction assistance may be applied towards the costs of construction, including residential hook-ups and construction management
In formulating grant proposals, transition assistance must be maximized for a project before construction assistance may be considered. Construction assistance will be considered when transition assistance is insufficient to bring user fees to an affordable level. In many cases, a mix of transition assistance and construction assistance may be the appropriate solution to a community’s needs.
Project Development Assistance
To assist project sponsors with development activities necessary for the certification and implementation of their projects, EPA offers grant funding through the Project Development Assistance Program (PDAP) administered by BECC. Grant funding is available for planning studies, environmental assessment, final design, financial feasibility, community participation, and development of sustainability elements. For more information on the PDAP program, contact BECC.