PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The main state board that makes low-interest loans and grants to water projects in South Dakota has decided on the process for how $600 million of federal COVID aid will be spread around.

The South Dakota Board of Water and Natural Resources on Thursday approved the general plan for using the American Rescue Plan Act funds that the Legislature appropriated in SB 62.

“We’re swamped with applications,” said Mike Perkovich. a senior engineer for water and waste funding in the state Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The board has financed water and sewer projects for decades. Its first ARPA decisions will come over two days in mid-April.

Program director Andy Bruels said he received questions from legislators about whether the board was capable of handling the ARPA funding. Bruels and Perkovich tried to assure lawmakers.

“I think that was a very big success,” Bruels said.

Board members approved an 18-page form that applicants will need to fill out. All of the ARPA funds must be obligated to projects by December 31, 2024. The federal deadline for disbursing the money is December 31, 2026, but DANR has set an internal deadline of December 1, 2026.

The board on Thursday also added 41 more projects to the state water plan for possible funding.

Provided their sewer or water rates also meet certain minimums, communities seeking ARPA grants could be eligible for at least 30% of a project’s cost, based on a maximum of $3,000 per person.

Communities serving up to 1,000 people could be eligible for a grant up to 80% with a $9,000 maximum per person, while communities serving up to 2,500 people could be eligible for a grant up to 50% with a maximum of $7,000 per person.