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Water: Source Water Protection


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A variety of programs provide funding for source water protection activities at the local, state, and federal levels. This page identifies some useful resources for finding financial assistance tools.

Costs and benefits

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Communities, states and consumers bear the economic burden when drinking water sources are contaminated. Not only can wages be lost and medical costs incurred, but alternative water supplies might also be required in the short run. Over the long term, treatment systems might have to be expanded, or a new water source found, to meet new regulatory requirements or to address new contaminant threats. Other costs could include decreased property values, loss of tax base and loss of citizens' confidence in their drinking water, public utilities and community leaders.

Preventing source water contamination, however, can keep such costs in check and preventing contamination is often less costly than remedying its effects.

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Funding for Source Water Protection Activities Document The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program

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Funding Sources

There is no single source of funding for implementing source water protection plans and activities. Fortunately, broad-based sources of funding can mean broad-based support for protection activities. Protecting sources of drinking water can also help various federal programs, states and communities meet other environmental and social goals, such as green space conservation, stormwater planning, management of nonpoint source pollution (such as runoff from agricultural lands) and brownfields redevelopment. A good question to ask when putting together a funding package is "What else is going on in my watershed or wellhead protection areas?"

The answer can be a combination of government programs and financing structures, such as innovative rate structures, public-private partnerships and stormwater utilities. Public funding is available through capital programs; planning programs; community development block grants; Clean Water Act funds, including State Revolving Fund and section 319 monies; education programs; project maintenance funding; land acquisition programs; agricultural best management practices; urban programs; wetland programs and riparian forest buffer programs. Private financing techniques include setting up drinking water and wastewater rate structures, which frees up local funds by making water and sewer utilities self-supporting. Partnerships with industry and communities can also help source water protection efforts: for example, landscaping can be designed to help protect against runoff; pesticide and insecticide use can be reduced or eliminated; and impervious surfaces can be replaced.

EPA Source Water Grants

  • Request for Applications for a Cooperative Agreement for Integrating Clean Water, Drinking Water and Land Use Planning Efforts (PDF) (19 pp, 80K)
    This funding opportunity seeks to demonstrate methods of integrating drinking water protection into land stewardship/conservation and water programs at the local level. In the first 18 months of the project, the successful applicant will work with four to five demonstration states to foster integration of water quality management, drinking water protection and land use planning efforts at the state level that will enable source water protection at the local level. It is expected in the outyears of the project that the successful applicant will identify three to four additional demonstration states, address lessons learned in the demonstration states, and focus on transferring results to other states, communities and/or watersheds.
    EPA anticipates awarding one cooperative agreement under this announcement for a total of $600,000. The cooperative agreement is anticipated to be funded at approximately $230,000 for the first year with a maximum of $600,000 total over a 4 year project period, (depending on Agency funding levels and other applicable considerations). The cooperative agreement will demonstrate methods of integrating drinking water protection into land stewardship/conservation and water quality programs at the local and watershed level.
    Applications were due by August 28, 2006.

One-stop shopping opportunities

  • NewFederal Funding Opportunities for Source Water Protection (PDF) (6 pp, 258K)
    This document identifies federal programs that can be leveraged for source water protection.
  • Catalog of federal funding sources for watershed protection
    EPA's Office of Water maintains a searchable Web site to assist the public in identifying federal agency-based financial assistance opportunities best suited to their water quality and water protection issues. Users can select the type of organization they are in, the type of funding sought, and keywords that describe the issue to generate a list of federal funding programs to which they can apply. The list of programs is hyperlinked to detailed information on each program's funding history, available dollars, and contact details.
  • Funding sources for water quality
    Lists, by federal agency, programs that might apply to water resource protection. The site is thorough in its listing of financial assistance programs in U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies.
  • Catalog of federal and domestic assistance
    A list of federal assistance programs (including technical assistance) administered by federal agencies or state and local governments and other organizations. Search the Assistance Program Listings for appropriate programs related to an issue like water quality protection or source water protection.

Safe Drinking Water Act funding

  • Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF)
    EPA awards grants to states to establish revolving loan funds to assist public water systems. The Fiscal Year 2005 appropriation for the DWSRF program is $843.2 million.
    Although most of the funding is used for infrastructure improvements, a state may also choose to reserve a portion of its grant to fund activities needed for source water protection and enhanced water system management. For example, drinking water programs were allowed to take up to 10 percent of their DWSRF 1997 capitalization grant to conduct source water assessments.

    Funds may be used:
    • To make loans to public water systems for purchasing land or conservation easements for the purposes of source water protection (direct grants are not available to water utilities)
    • To make loans to community water systems for implementing source water quality protection partnership petition programs or voluntary, incentive-based source water protection measures
    • To establish and implement wellhead protection programs
  • The following fact sheets are available for further reference:
  • Drinking Water SRF National Information Management System - Collects information that provides a record of progress and accountability for the DWSRF program. A national report and state reports that include state agency and contact information are available.

Clean Water Act funding

  • Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF)
    State CWSRF programs provide approximately $4 billion a year to fund water quality protection projects such as wastewater treatment, nonpoint source pollution control, and watershed and estuary management.
  • The following fact sheets are available for further reference:
    • Protecting Drinking Water with the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (PDF) (4 pp, 196K)
      The State Revolving Fund program authorized by the Clean Water Act can also be a powerful tool to help states finance a variety of source water protection activities. The CWSRF program can provide assistance to communities, water systems, and other organizations (including land conservation associations) for projects that protect source water and enhance water quality.
    • Funding Class V Injection Well Closures with the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (PDF) (4 pp, 256K)
      This fact sheet summarizes the Class V Well rule requirements and describes the process for obtaining funds from the CWSRF to comply with the regulations. The information included covers how to get a project funded, who may qualify, repayment sources, and success stories.
  • Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act established a grant program under which states, territories and tribes that have completed Unified Watershed Assessments may receive funds to support various nonpoint source pollution management activities. Each year EPA awards section 319(h) funds to states whose funding plans are consistent with the grant eligibility requirements and procedures. The states make final funding decisions about nonpoint source pollution management activities, which may include technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects and monitoring to assess the success of specific nonpoint source implementation projects. Many other sources of funding for nonpoint source control projects are also available.

Pollution prevention grants

  • EPA's pollution prevention grants - The Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Pollution Prevention Division, is responsible for five grant programs. Four of the programs support projects that promote pollution prevention through source reduction and resource conservation. The fifth program sponsors internships that focus on pollution prevention, environmental justice and tribal activities.

State funding for protection

Some states have grant and loan programs for source water protection activities and programs. To find out more about possible funding opportunities available in your state, go to your State Source Water Protection Home Page or contact your State Source Water Protection Contact.

Tribal programs

EPA is firmly committed to helping tribes to assess the rivers, lakes, springs and aquifers that serve as tribal public water supplies and implement preventive measures against contamination of these water resources. EPA's Tribal Source Water page has a fact sheet and other resources.

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Financial Technical Assistance

  • EPA's Environmental Finance Program (EFP) - Provides financial technical assistance to the regulated community and advice and recommendations to the Agency on environmental finance issues, trends and options.
    The EFP operates through three activities:
    • Environmental Financial Advisory Board (EFAB)
      Federally chartered advisory committee consisting of a diverse group of independent financing experts from public and private sector organizations interested in lowering environmental costs and increasing investment in environmental facilities and services.
    • Environmental Finance Center Network (EFCN)
      University-based program providing financial outreach services to regulated communities. The EFCN consists of nine environmental finance centers that share information and expertise on finance issues and engage jointly in projects. For information on EFCN involvement in source water protection financing, contact Debra Gutenson at gutenson.debra@epa.gov.
    • Environmental financial tools
      Tools produced by the EFP, the EFAB, the EFCN, the Environmental Financing Information Network (EFIN), EPA offices and programs, and other outside EPA sources. A key work among the financing mechanisms on this page is the Guidebook of Financial Tools.

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