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Water: Green Infrastructure

Funding Opportunities

Lack of funding is consistently cited as a barrier to the implementation of green infrastructure.  One advantage that green infrastructure projects offer, however, is that they generate so many benefits that they can compete for a variety of diverse funding sources. 

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Funding Sources
This section lists potential federal funding sources for green infrastructure projects. State websites should also be consulted for information on state funding programs.

EPA Clean Water Act Nonpoint Source Grant (Section 319 Grants) - Congress amended the Clean Water Act in 1987 to establish EPA's Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program because it recognized the need for greater federal leadership to help focus state and local nonpoint source efforts. Under Section 319, states, territories, and Indian tribes receive grant money which supports a wide variety of activities including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects, and monitoring to assess the success of projects that have been implemented.

EPA Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) - EPA's CWSRF program has provided more than $4.5 billion annually in recent years to fund water quality protection projects for wastewater treatment, stormwater management, nonpoint source pollution control, and watershed and estuary management. View the CWSRF document: Green Infrastructure Approaches to Managing Wet Weather with Clean Water State Revolving Funds (PDF) (6 pp, 458K, About PDF).

EPA Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) Grants - The U.S. EPA CARE Cooperative Agreement Request for Proposals (RFP) supports community-based partnerships to reduce pollution at the local level. Eligible applicants include county and local governments, tribes, non-profit organizations, and universities.

EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds (OWOW) Funding - OWOW has created this website to provide tools, databases, and information about sources of funding to practitioners and funders that serve to protect watersheds. 

Appalachian Regional Commission – Each year the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) provides funding for several hundred projects in the Appalachian Region in a wide range of program areas including community infrastructure and asset-based development.

DOE Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program – The Department of Energy’s Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program provides grants, technical assistance, and information tools to states, local governments, community action agencies, utilities, Indian tribes, and overseas U.S. territories for their energy programs. The program could be used to encourage green infrastructure, such as green roofs, as part of the weatherization process.

DOI Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program – The mission of the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program (RTCA) is to assist community-led natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation initiatives. RTCA staff provide guidance to communities so that they can conserve waterways, preserve open space, and develop trails and greenways.

DOT Transportation Enhancement Activities – The Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation Enhancement (TE) activities offer funding opportunities to help expand transportation choices and enhance the transportation experience through 12 eligible TE activities related to surface transportation, including pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and safety programs, scenic and historic highway programs, landscaping and scenic beautification, historic preservation, and environmental mitigation. These activities could include green to mitigate the impacts of stormwater runoff.

EDA Funding Oppurtunities - The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) provides grants to support a range of business and industrial development activities that create or retain jobs, including infrastructure development. EDA also capitalizes Revolving Loan Funds to encourage new business development activity in economically distressed communities.
HUD Community Development Block Grant Program - The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is a flexible program that works to ensure decent affordable housing, provide services to the most vulnerable in our communities, and create jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses. CDBG-financed projects could incorporate green infrastructure into their design and construction. Chicago, for example, has used CDBG to put a new green roof on its historic Cultural Center.

HUD Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program – The Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program allows future Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allocations to be used to guarantee loans for neighborhood revitalization projects, including construction or installation of public facilities and infrastructure. Section 108-guaranteed projects could incorporate green infrastructure into their design and construction.

HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants - The Department of Housing and Urban Development's Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program supports metropolitan and multijurisdictional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments in a manner that empowers jurisdictions to consider the interdependent challenges of: (1) economic competitiveness and revitalization; (2) social equity, inclusion, and access to opportunity; (3) energy use and climate change; and (4) public health and environmental impact.

NOAA Community Based Restoration Program - The NOAA Community-Based Restoration Program began in 1996 to inspire and sustain local efforts to conduct coastal habitat restoration. Since then, the program has funded more than 1,500 projects in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. These projects have restored more than 41,000 acres of habitat and opened more than 1,700 stream miles for fish passage, while encouraging communities to actively participate in the conservation of our nation's coastal habitats.

USDA National Urban and Community Forestry Program - The US Forest Service’s National Urban and Community Forestry Program seeks to establish sustainable community forests that improve the public’s health, well being, and economic vitality, and create resilient ecosystems for present and future generations. When funds are available, the program offers cost-share grants to support urban and community forestry projects that have national or multi-state application and impact.

Rural Development Water and Environmental Programs - The Department of Agriculture's Water and Environmental Programs provide loans, grants, and loan guarantees for drinking water, sanitary sewer, solid waste, and storm drainage facilities in rural areas and cities and towns with populations of 10,000 or less.
Rural Development Community Facilities Loans and Grants - The Department of Agriculture's Community Programs provide loans and grants and loan guarantees for water and environmental projects, as well as community facilities projects. Water and environmental projects include water systems, waste systems, solid waste, and storm drainage facilities. Community facilities projects develop essential community facilities for public use in rural areas and may include hospitals, fire protection, safety, as well as many other community-based initiatives.

Tax Incentive Programs - Some tax incentive programs administered by federal agencies can be used to attract financing to green infrastructure projects. Below are two examples of programs whose missions are broad enough to support green infrastructure projects.

  • Department of Energy administers a range of energy efficiency tax incentives, and green infrastructure could be integrated into project design to claim the incentive. An example of how this might work is found in Oregon’s Energy Efficiency Construction Credits. In Eugene, Oregon, a new biofuel station built on an abandoned gas station site included a green roof, bioswales and rain gardens. In this case, nearly $250,000 worth of tax credits reduced income and sales tax for the private company that built and operated the project.
  • Department of Treasury administers the multi-billion dollar New Markets Tax Credit program, which encourages private investment for a range of project types (typically real estate or business development projects) in distressed areas. Awards are allocated to non-profit and private entities based on their proposals for distributing these tax benefits.
Shovel and Soil
Funding Tools
To assist local stormwater managers in understanding the many available funding options for local stormwater programs, several government and non-profit organizations have developed comprehensive guides, case studies, and training materials.  This section provides links to some of these resources, as well as links to spreadsheet tools designed to assist stormwater managers in assessing program costs and financing scenarios.

EPA's Municipal Handbook: Funding Options (PDF) (16 pp, 558K, About PDF) (833-F-08-007) - This chapter of EPA's Municipal Handbook identifies and discusses two of the most common funding options that communities are using to fund green infrastructure - stormwater fees and loan programs. 

 EPA's Municipal Handbook: Incentive Mechanisms (PDF) (35 pp, 1.8MB, About PDF) (833-F-09-001) – Green infrastructure on private property can significantly reduce the public cost of stormwater management. This chapter of the handbook describes a number of incentives that municipalities can offer to promote the implementation of green infrastructure on private properties and reduce their stormwater management costs.

EPA Region 1 - Funding Stormwater Programs (PDF) (6 pp, 318K, About PDF) -This fact sheet supplements a review of common stormwater funding mechanisms with examples from two New England cities.

EPA Region 3 - Funding Stormwater Programs (PDF) (5 pp, 403K, About PDF) - This fact sheet supplements a review of common stormwater funding mechanisms with examples from three Mid-Atlantic cities.

Guidance for Municipal Stormwater Funding (PDF) (140 pp, 1MB, About PDF) - Prepared by the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies, this guidance addresses the procedural, legal, and financial aspects of developing viable funding approaches for local stormwater programs. The guidance examines a range of possible approaches to paying for stormwater management, but the focus is on guidelines for developing service/ user/ utility fees to support these programs.

Financing Stormwater Retrofits in Philadelphia and Beyond - This report developed by NRDC describes Philadelphia's innovative stormwater billing structure and explores how this structure sets the stage for innovative financing mechanisms that can underwrite the capital costs of green infrastructure retrofits.

Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina (UNC) – The Environmental Finance Center (EFC) at UNC reaches local communities through the delivery of interactive applied training programs and technical assistance. The EFC at UNC offers several tools for local stormwater programs, including a stormwater utility dashboard to compare stormwater utility fees in North Carolina, a model stormwater ordinance, and sample trainings. 
Managing Stormwater in Your Community Tool 2: Program and Budget Planning Tool - This spreadsheet tool and accompanying manual developed the Center for Watershed Protection is designed to assist local stormwater managers with program planning, goal setting, and phasing.
EPA's Financing Alternatives Comparison Tool (FACT) - A financial analysis tool that helps identify the most cost-effective method to fund a wastewater or drinking water management project. This tool produces a comprehensive analysis that compares various financing options for these projects by incorporating financing, regulatory, and other important costs.

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