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Water: Fed FUNDS

Know the Basics of Disaster Funding

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Many federal agencies maintain disaster-related funding programs that water and wastewater utilities may find useful. When determining whether a funding program is appropriate for your utility, it is important to examine both your potential and/or expected financial needs and any program funding requirements such as when funding is available (e.g., following a Presidential declaration), the type of incident (e.g., natural disaster, terrorism), and eligible uses/work (e.g., repair, technical assistance). To determine the most appropriate funding opportunity for your utility, also consider the following points:

  • Grants vs. Reimbursement vs. Loans. Some funding programs include federal grants with matching funds from a state or other agency. Other funding programs involve reimbursement for repair work completed by utilities after a disaster. Others involve low-interest loans.

  • Triggers for some Disaster and Mitigation Funding. Some federal disaster funding is triggered when the President declares a disaster area. Other federal programs are based on annual application deadlines. Utilities will need to be informed of these triggers.

  • Funding Pre- and Post-Disaster. Some funding will cover activities completed before a disaster, such as incorporating mitigation measures designed to reduce the vulnerability to damage. Some funding opportunities will address repair, replacement, and recovery after a disaster.

  • Mitigation Funding. Utilities should consider federal and state mitigation funding opportunities to reduce or eliminate the losses from future disasters. For many utilities, repetitive disaster damage can be curtailed and damage to known vulnerable facilities and equipment can be prevented. This allows utilities to minimize disaster disruptions and recover more rapidly and lessens the financial impact on utilities and the communities. Note that to participate in FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, utilities will need to be part of an area (e.g., local, state) that has a hazard mitigation plan in place before a disaster occurs.

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