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Funding Opportunities / Grants and Loans

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Many state and federal agencies offer grants to improve water infrastructure, restore habitat, green urban areas, capture and conserve stormwater, and clean up groundwater; some agencies also offer low-interest loans and, at times, loan forgiveness. A convenient way to keep track of grant funds becoming available under Proposition 1, which funds many of the current grant programs, is to visit the state's Bond Accountability website periodically here for project solicitation notices. The Bond Accountability website organizes the information by program. One can also subscribe to the Proposition 1 listserve to be kept informed by email of relevant information. Finally, one can view a master schedule which is regularly updated that tracks each of the Proposition 1 programs.

Another valuable source of information on grants and loans is the California Financing Coordinating Committee (CFCC) website. The CFCC was formed in 1998 and is made up of seven funding agencies: five state and two federal. CFCC members facilitate and expedite the completion of various types of infrastructure projects by helping customers combine the resources of several agencies. Project information is shared between members so additional resources can be identified. CFCC members conduct free Funding Fairs statewide each year to educate the public and potential customers about the different member agencies and the financial and technical resources available. The tabs below give more detail on various types of grants and loans programs. Available materials which describe the programs and the process by which to apply for funding should be read carefully and directions should be followed closely.

Additionally, the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank's (IBank) Infrastructure State Revolving Fund (ISRF) Program is a useful low-cost financing tool for public agencies, including special districts, assessment districts and joint powers authorities, as well as non-profit corporations sponsored by public agencies. Eligible projects include but are not limited to city streets, drainage, water supply and flood control, environmental mitigation measures, parks and recreational facilities, sewage collection and treatment, and water treatment and distribution. ISRF Program funding is available in amounts ranging from $50,000 to $25 million, with loan terms for the life of the project up to a maximum of 30 years. Sources of financing repayment may include enterprise revenues, general fund revenues, property assessments, Mello-Roos, special taxes, and other recurring revenues acceptable to IBank. The IBank's Small Business Finance Center also offers loans through its Farm Loan Program. Funds can be used for, among other things, operating and production expenses, equipment, and soil and water conservation.

Water Quality-Focused Grant and Loan Programs

The State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Financial Assistance administers various financial assistance programs, including loans and grants for constructing municipal stormwater capture and use and/or stormwater treatment facilities, sewage treatment facilities, and water recycling facilities; improving public water systems; groundwater cleanup projects; watershed protection projects; and for non-point source pollution control projects. Each program briefly described below has its own guidelines, application process and funding cycle. Many grant programs receive funding currently from Proposition 1. For the latest information, access the State Water Board's Division of Financial Assistance website at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/grants_loans/ and the summary of funding programs at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/grants_loans/docs/dfa_funding_summary.pdf. Applications for many programs can be submitted through the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST) at https://faast.waterboards.ca.gov/. Some grant programs may offer the opportunity to submit pre-proposals via FAAST for early feedback; potential applicants are strongly encouraged to do so in order to develop proposals that are consistent with the funding program's guidelines. Potential applicants should subscribe online to the funding program's announcements and updates sent via email. Sign-up at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/resources/email_subscriptions/swrcb_subscribe.shtml#financial.

Proposition 1 requires the State Water Board to operate a multidisciplinary technical assistance program for small disadvantaged communities, and allows for the State Water Board to fund technical assistance (TA). The State Water Board's Office of Sustainable Water Solutions was created to promote permanent and sustainable solutions to help ensure effective and efficient provision of safe, affordable, and reliable drinking water and wastewater treatment services. The Office is focused on addressing both financial assistance and TA needs, with a focus on Small Disadvantaged Communities (DACs). The Office provides direct assistance to potential funding applicants, as well as contracting and coordination with external TA providers. Assistance may involve project coordination and development, legal assistance, engineering, and environmental analysis, and/or leak detection/water audits. The application deadline is continuous.

FUNDING PROGRAM                         ELIGIBILITY/BRIEF PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

Storm Water

Storm Water Grant Program (Prop 1 grants)

Planning and implementation projects meeting the priorities and preferences in the funding guidelines. Implementation project types include green infrastructure, storm water capture and use, and storm water treatment facilities. Final design and planning for the project are among eligible expenses. Some funds may also be available through the Clean Beaches Initiative Grant Program.

Cooperative Implementation Agreements (with Caltrans) Caltrans compliance with MS4 and TMDL requirements allows for Cooperative Implementation Agreements (CIAs) between the Department and other TMDL responsible parties, such as local municipalities, to design and construct BMPs needed to address TMDLs in priority watersheds. In return, Caltrans receives compliance credits at a cost of $88,000/credit. No match is required. Contact Constantine Kontaxis, Constantine.Kontaxis@dot.ca.gov for information about this program.

Water Recycling

Water Recycling Funding Program (Prop 1 grants)

Planning and construction of water recycling distribution, storage, pumping, treatment, including groundwater recharge facilities and spreading basins.

Nonpoint Source Control

Nonpoint Source Clean Water Act 319(h) (federal grants)

The Water Boards' Nonpoint Source (NPS) Program administers grant money it receives from United States Environmental Protection Agency through Section 319(h) of the Federal Clean Water. These grant funds can be used to implement projects or programs that will help to reduce NPS pollution. Projects that qualify for funding must be conducted within the state's NPS priority watersheds. Project proposals that address Total Maximum Daily Load implementation and those that address problems in impaired waters are favored in the selection process. Priorities in the Los Angeles Region focus on implementing nutrients and pesticides TMDLs at individual farms or regional sites in four watersheds.

Agricultural Drainage Program (loans)

Projects must address treatment, storage, conveyance or disposal of agricultural drainage that threaten waters of the State. Eligible Applicants include any city, county, district, joint powers authority or other political subdivision of the State involved with water management. Application deadline is continuous.


Agricultural Drainage Management Program (loans)

The Agricultural Drainage Management Loan Program, created by Proposition 204 and distributed through the Agricultural Drainage Management Subaccount, provides loan and grant funding for Drainage Water Management Units. Drainage Water Management Units are land and facilities for the treatment, storage, conveyance, reduction or disposal of agricultural drainage water that, if discharged untreated, would pollute or threaten to pollute the waters of the State. This program is available to any city, county, district, joint power authority, or other political subdivision of the State involved with water management. Application deadline is continuous.

Drinking Water

Clean, Safe and Reliable Drinking Water (Prop 1 grants)

Planning and/or construction of projects that return public water systems to compliance with drinking water standards, consolidation, water meters, treatment projects, and replacement of aged water transmission or distribution mains, groundwater wells, or other infrastructure. Application deadline is continuous.

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (loans)

Planning and/or construction of projects that return public water systems to compliance with drinking water standards, consolidation, water meters, treatment projects, and replacement of aged water transmission or distribution mains, groundwater wells, or other infrastructure. Application deadline is continuous.

Cleanup & Abatement Account (CAA) Interim Emergency Drinking Water Program (grants and direct expenditures)

Includes, but not limited to: bottled water, well repair, well rehabilitation, and replacement vending machines, point of use devices, (for example, filtration) hauled water, emergency interties, treatment systems, etc. Application deadline is continuous.

Wastewater and Storm Water

Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) (grants and loans)

Planning, design and/or construction of publicly-owned treatment facilities including wastewater treatment, local sewers, sewer collectors and interceptors, septic to sewer conversions, storm water reduction and treatment, and water reclamation facilities; planning, design and/or implementation of nonpoint source projects or programs and estuary conservation and management plans; and water/energy audits, water/energy reduction devices, water meters and water reuse projects. The application deadline is continuous. A project must be included on the Project List (PL) to be approved for CWSRF financing. The PL is generally updated on a quarterly basis. No action is necessary on the applicant's part to have a project added to the PL. The Division of Financial Assistance (DFA) will make arrangements for projects to be added to the PL once a complete or partial application has been submitted. If you plan to submit an application for CWSRF financing, DFA recommends that you start by submitting the General Information Package to obtain a project number and a Project Manager. The General Information package will give the Division sufficient information to add your project to the PL.

The State Water Board also has loan (principal) forgiveness available for CWSRF Green Project Reserve (GPR) projects. GPR projects must address water or energy efficiency, mitigate storm water runoff, or encourage sustainable project planning, design, and construction.

Small Community Wastewater (Prop 1 grants)

Clean Water State Revolving Fund-eligible wastewater projects (see above). Application deadline is continuous.

Groundwater Quality

Groundwater Sustainability (Prop 1 grants)

Groundwater Sustainability Prop 1 grants are also offered through the Department of Water Resources

Planning/monitoring and implementation of projects that will prevent and clean up contamination of groundwater that serves or has served as a source of drinking water.

Site Cleanup Subaccount (SCAP) (grants and contracts)

Regulatory directive issued, and responsible party lacks financial resources to implement response to directive. Grants: Reasonable and necessary costs incurred by the grant recipient for investigation or cleanup groundwater contamination. Contracts: State or Regional Water Board determination of contaminant source, investigation, or cleanup. Application deadline is continuous.

Seawater Intrusion Control Program (loans)

Provides low-interest loans to local agencies for the design and construction of publicly owned facilities necessary to protect groundwater quality in basins threatened by seawater intrusion, which are subject to a local groundwater management plan, and where restrictions on groundwater pumping, a physical solution, or both, are necessary to prevent the destruction of, or irreparable injury to, groundwater quality. Application deadline is continuous.

Replacing, Removing or Upgrading Underground Storage Tanks (RUST) (grants and loans)

Underground storage tank owner and/or operator meeting requirements of small business and who are in compliance with specific regulatory requirements. Grants: Costs necessary to upgrade, remove or replace project tanks to comply with requirements. Loans: Finances up to 100% of costs necessary to upgrade, remove or replace project tanks, including corrective actions, to meet applicable local, state or federal standards. Application deadline is continuous.

Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund (USTCF)

Current or former owner and/or operator of the underground storage tank that caused an unauthorized release, unauthorized release confirmed by the local regulatory agency, named a responsible party and directed to clean up the contamination, and party incurring the cleanup costs. Reimbursement is limited to $1,000,000 per occurrence less the applicable deductible. Application deadline is continuous.

Federal Assistance

Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA)

WIFIA, managed through U.S. EPA, makes available nearly $1 billion in credit assistance for water infrastructure projects through providing long-term, low-cost assistance in the form of direct loans and loan guarantees to water projects. The program first solicits letters of interest from prospective borrowers (current deadline of April 10, 2017). The program can fund a variety of larger-scale projects including:

  • Water recycling, desalination, aquifer recharge, alternative water supply;
  • Drinking water treatment and distribution projects;
  • Wastewater conveyance and treatment projects;
  • Enhanced energy efficiency projects at drinking water and wastewater facilities; and
  • Drought prevention, reduction or mitigation projects.

Multi-Benefit Grant Programs for Projects Which May Include Water Quality Benefits

A number of grant programs currently being funded by Proposition 1 feature an extensive list of priorities for grant funding including urban greening, water conservation, and habitat restoration. Without specifically being focused on improving water quality, it is likely these types of multi-benefit projects will result in some level of water quality benefits, which may be quantifiable.

FUNDING PROGRAM                       ELIGIBILITY/BRIEF PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy

Ecosystem, Watershed Protection and Restoration

The RMC will seek to prioritize multi-beneficial and multi-jurisdictional ecosystem and watershed protection projects in accordance with statewide priorities. A proposed project must be consistent with Proposition 1 bond language, RMC Common Ground and the California Water Action Plan. Projects must result in a quantifiable outcome in the following priority areas:

  • Water Sustainability and Resiliency
  • Serves disadvantaged communities
  • Preservation, restoration enhancement and adaptive management of coastal wetland habitat of regional and statewide importance
  • Urban Greening along the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers
  • Climate Change Adaptation and Greenhouse Gas Reductions
  • Create, expand, and/or improve public open space throughout the region by improving water quality supply, create, enhance or improve a reliable water supply and/or restore an important species and habitat

Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy

Multi-benefit Water Quality, Water Supply, and Watershed Protection and Restoration Projects

The following general project types that may be eligible for funding:

  • Acquisition projects to protect watersheds
  • Water conservation, treatment and improvement projects designed to capture, infiltrate, and/or treat street runoff in addition to other multi-benefit components
  • Project planning and design that assess feasibility of an acquisition or improvement project via land use and technical analyses, property ownerships, engineering, or concept plans
  • Restoration projects such as removal of invasive species and restoration of native habitat
  • All other multi-benefit improvement projects such as Washington Elementary in Compton Creek
  • Vegetation management to reduce hazard fuels and promote watershed health

Ocean Protection Council

Ecosystem, Watershed Protection and Restoration

Projects must have multiple benefits for ocean or coastal resources. The kinds of projects that meet the requirements and priorities of the Ocean Protection Council's grant guidelines include:

  • Projects that develop stormwater capture systems that reduce marine debris, reduce non-point source pollution, and allow for the storage of freshwater.
  • Wetland restoration and protection projects at impaired watersheds that promote healthy nursery habitat for aquatic species and provide water quality improvements.
  • Projects that remove barriers to fish passage in addition reduce water quality impacts to coastal waterways.
  • Projects that prevent or reduce water pollution or contamination.
  • Projects that protect and restore coastal watersheds (bays, estuaries, nearshore ecosystems) including those that restore ecological health and natural system connectivity, which will benefit local water systems and help defend against sea-level rise.

California Natural Resources Agency

Watersheds and Urban Rivers

  1. Projects must be multi-benefit watershed and urban rivers enhancement projects in urban watersheds that increase regional and local water self-sufficiency.
  2. Projects must meet at least two of the following five statutory objectives:
    1. Promote Groundwater Recharge and Water Reuse
    2. Reduce Energy Consumption
    3. Use Soils, Plants, and Natural Processes to Treat Runoff
    4. Create, or Restore Native Habitat
    5. Increase Regional and Local Resiliency and Adaptability to Climate Change

Baldwin Hills Conservancy

Ecosystem, Watershed Protection and Restoration

Projects must be multi-benefit within the Ballona Creek Watershed. Priorities include resource protection, habitat protection, and urban greening.

California Department of Water Resources

Integrated Regional Water Management

Implementation projects submitted for funding must be consistent with an adopted IRWM Plan and provide multiple benefits. Eligible project types include:

  • Water reuse and recycling for non-potable reuse and direct and indirect potable reuse
  • Water-use efficiency and water conservation
  • Local and regional surface and underground water storage, including ground water aquifer cleanup or recharge projects
  • Regional water conveyance facilities that improve integration of separate water systems
  • Watershed protection, restoration, and management projects, including projects that reduce the risk of wildfire or improve water supply reliability
  • Stormwater resource management
  • Conjunctive use of surface and groundwater storage facilities
  • Water desalination projects
  • Decision support tools to model regional water management strategies to account for climate change andother changes in regional demand and supply projections
  • Improvement of water quality, including drinking water treatment and distribution, groundwater and aquifer remediation, matching water quality to water use, wastewater treatment, water pollution prevention, and management of urban and agricultural runoff

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants

WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants provide cost-shared funding for projects that save water; increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in water management; support environmental benefits (i.e., make conserved water available instream or otherwise address endangered species issues); mitigate conflict risk in areas at a high risk of future water conflict; and accomplish other benefits that contribute to water supply sustainability in the western United States.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Urban Waters Small Grants Program

The program seeks to help local residents and their organizations, particularly those in underserved communities, restore their urban waters in ways that also benefit community and economic revitalization.

Habitat Restoration-Focused Grant Programs

Multiple agencies offer grant programs which feature habitat restoration as their main focus. However, there may be ancillary water quality benefits from undertaking the restoration, particularly when restoration involves streams or wetlands. Many of these grant programs are currently funded by Proposition 1 and require matching funds, often of non-State origin. These types of projects may be an opportunity to partner with other entities to obtain multiple sources of funding that might lead to more quantifiable water quality gains from habitat restoration. Proponents of projects listed in the workplan for the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project may want to pursue these types of funding.

FUNDING PROGRAM                       ELIGIBILITY/BRIEF PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

State Coastal Conservancy

Ecosystem, Watershed Protection and Restoration

All Prop 1 grants funded by the Conservancy must achieve at least one of these purposes:

  1. Protect and increase the economic benefits arising from healthy watersheds, fishery resources and in-stream flow.
  2. Implement watershed adaptation projects in order to reduce the impacts of climate change on communities and ecosystems.
  3. Restore river parkways throughout the state, including but not limited to projects pursuant to the California River Parkways Act of 2004 and urban river greenways
  4. Protect and restore aquatic, wetland and migratory bird ecosystems including fish and wildlife corridors and the acquisition of water rights for in-stream flow.
  5. Fulfill the obligations of the state of California in complying with the terms of multiparty settlement agreements related to water resources.
  6. Remove barriers to fish passage.
  7. Collaborate with federal agencies in the protection of fish native to California and wetlands in the central valley of California.
  8. Implement fuel treatment projects to reduce wildfire risks, protect watersheds tributary to water storage facilities and promote watershed health
  9. Protect and restore rural and urban watershed health to improve watershed storage capacity, forest health, protection of life and property, storm water resource management, and greenhouse gas reduction.
  10. Protect and restore coastal watersheds including but not limited to, bays, marine estuaries, and near shore ecosystems.
  11. Reduce pollution or contamination of rivers, lakes, streams, or coastal waters, prevent and remediate mercury contamination from legacy mines, and protect or restore natural system functions that contribute to water supply, water quality, or flood management.
  12. Assist in the recovery of endangered, threatened, or migratory species by improving watershed health, instream flows, fish passage, coastal or inland wetland restoration, or other means, such as natural community conservation plan and habitat conservation plan implementation.
  13. Assist in water-related agricultural sustainability projects.

Wildlife Conservation Board

Stream Flow Enhancement

Funds will be focused on addressing the objective of providing and protecting enhanced stream flow, especially in those streams that support anadromous fish; special status, threatened, endangered or at risk species; or provide resilience to climate change.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Watershed Restoration

Examples of project types which may be eligible include:

  • Restoring, protecting or enhancing habitat;
  • Improving forest health;
  • Modernizing stream crossings, culverts, and bridges;
  • Reconnecting historical flood plains;
  • Installing or improving fish screens;
  • Providing fish passage;
  • Improving ecological functions;
  • Acquisitions from willing sellers;
  • Improving local watershed management; and
  • Removing sediment or trash.

Ancillary Grant Programs

While not intended to directly address water quality or habitat improvements, some funding sources may help potential grant applicants enlarge on a green streets project intended to address water quality issues or otherwise improve their community.

CAL FIRE

Urban and Community Forestry Program Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Grants

Three grant programs are available: Urban Forest Expansion and Improvement, Urban Forest Management Activities, and Urban Wood and Biomass Utilization. Construction of green infrastructure projects is not eligible. Projects must sequester significant amounts of greenhouse gases over a 40-year period. May fund development of urban forest management plans.

Funding Opportunities / Grants and Loans