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Electronic Preliminary Engineering Report

What is ePER?

The United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Development (RD) Rural Utility Service (RUS) Water Environmental Programs (WEP) is a leader in providing financial assistance for water and waste infrastructure projects in rural America under the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program.  In a typical fiscal year, the agency provides about $1.5 Billion in loans and grants for water and waste infrastructure projects to rural communities across the United States.

In an effort to streamline the application process to provide improved access to water and waste infrastructure funding to small and rural systems, RUS has also developed RD Apply which is an online software tool for completing the application process.  This software steps a user and their consultants through the process of providing information to the agency about a proposed project using a non-linear, question and answer based format.

As a complement to RD Apply and part of the most recent streamlining effort, WEP developed the electronic Preliminary Engineering Report (ePER).  The Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) is an essential part of the application process required to access funding for water and waste infrastructure from WEP.  It is a technical report describing a proposed project and alternatives to the project, which are analyzed using the life cycle cost analysis process and developed by a consulting engineer.  The ePER tool is based on an Inter-agency paper template developed and approved in 2013 by five federal water and waste infrastructure funding programs: US EPA, USDA, HUD, and the Indian Health Service and 13 state governments.

The ePER tool enables consulting engineers to develop the Preliminary Engineering Report online. The ePER is an intuitive question and answer based non-linear system.  It includes automated features such as a built in population projection tool as well as a built in life cycle cost analysis tool.  It is safe and secure, allowing access to primary user with delegated roles if desired. It is flexible in that it allows for various types of file uploads to accommodate different agency and state funding requirements.

Using the RD Apply and ePER systems, the USDA is innovating the application process to improve access to water and waste infrastructure funding to rural communities across the country.

Using ePER


  • SECURE: Only the consulting engineers or their designees can access the reports
  • INTERACTIVE: ePER prompts users for information, minimizing the time and effort involved in completing reports
  • FLEXIBLE: Reports are generated in PDF and XML for easy submission to USDA and other Federal/state funding agencies
  • COMPATIBLE: The ePER system is compatible with the RD Apply online application system

Who can use the ePER tool?

Everyone is welcome to use the tool. However, in order to submit a PER as part of an application for funding a licensed professional engineer must be the lead author of each ePER.  After creating an ePER, the lead engineer may authorize other team members with a Level 2 eAuthentication to also work on a designated ePER.

Accessing ePER

Obtaining your Level 2 eAuthentication

In order to protect your data, you will be required to go through the identity proofing system, eAuthentication.

  • You will need to obtain a Level 2 eAuthentication to access the ePER system. Click Level 2 eAuth to start.

  • Just have a Level 1 Account? Click Level 2 eAuth and select Level 2 eAuthentication.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

  • You will be required to submit specific information to the eAuthentication system, such as name, address, DOB, etc.

  • If you have used RDApply, you may already have a Level 2 eAuthentication account. Click ePER to access the electronic Preliminary Engineering Report system.

For more information on eAuthentication check out the training guide below on eAuthentication.

Once you have a Level 2 eAuthentication

  • You can access ePER.

Already have a Level 2 eAuthentication?

  • Click ePER  to get started.


Need Help?

If you are experiencing trouble:

  • Accessing the eAuthentication website

  • Obtaining a Level 2 eAuthentication using the site;

  • Accessing the ePER software tool

Email the Help Desk at (RD.HD@STL.USDA.GOV).

Call (800)-457-3642 (Monday through Friday – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Central Standard Time)

  1. Press 2 to select USDA Applications; and

  2. Press 2 to select Rural Development.


Contact Us.