Tapping Into Federal Funding

While we know that implementation of critical water projects and policies ultimately comes down to the local level, federal funding is an important resource, providing communities and cities with the dollars they need to carry out this important work. Historic federal funding made available via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will help meet this need. However, improving and ensuring long-term access to these funding streams by communities that are most in need is essential.

River Network is committed to supporting our network to understand, influence, and access this current funding to ensure that it addresses the country’s most critical water needs, and to build the capacity of local organizations—who know their communities best—to engage in water infrastructure decision-making for the long term. Below you’ll find information, resources, and other materials focused on helping you understand key federal programs through which these funds are flowing to communities to address climate resilience; safe, affordable drinking water; and healthy rivers.

We’re also building resources around specific topics, such as green infrastructure – check this page often for the latest materials!

Current Funding Opportunities

Applications are open for:

👥 Collaborative watershed planning (WaterSmart CWMP – Bureau of Reclamation)

🌳 Community support to address environmental and climate justice challenges (Community Change Grants – EPA)

Scroll to the Resources by Federal Program section of this page for more information on these and other opportunities.

🔔 NEW RESOURCE! The Water Hub’s new Just Infrastructure campaign was designed to help elevate the impact federal water dollars are having in communities and ecosystems across the country. It includes message guides, factsheets, artwork, case studies and more. It will be helpful in your advocacy around safe water and sanitation, climate justice, and more!

Photo at right via Water Hub’s Just Infrastructure campaign. Click for more graphics to use in your advocacy!

For centralized guidance on new federal funding for water, open requests for proposals, and eligibility info on who can apply for which programs, explore the Water Program Portal (WPP), created by Atlas Public Policy in collaboration with the Water Foundation.

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Explore River Network Resources Related to Federal Funding for Water

Featured Resources

Selected River Network resources related to federal funding programs. Look for additional resources to be added and organized by topic area, and scroll down to learn more about specific federal programs.

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Eight topics, all available in English and Spanish. Download the SRF fact sheets.

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Influence, improve, and access the SRF process. Download the SRF Toolkit.

Watch recordings of River Network-hosted learning sessions and peer exchanges related to accessing and influencing federal funding.

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Resources on USDA conservation programs. Explore the USDA page.

Reduce or eliminate risk of repetitive flood damage. Download the FMA fact sheet.

Natural infrastructure to protect coastal communities. Download the NCRF fact sheet.

Community-driven habitat restoration for Tribes and underserved communities. Download the Coastal Habitat fact sheet.

Resources by Federal Program

WaterSMART Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Program - Bureau of Reclamation

Bureau of Reclamation’s new WaterSMART Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Program will provide cost shared funding to states, Tribes, and other entities as they study, design and construct aquatic ecosystem restoration projects that are collaboratively developed, have widespread regional benefits, and result in the improvement of the health of fisheries, wildlife, and aquatic habitat.

Addresses: removal or modification of barriers to fish passage; restoration of connectivity; restoration of aquatic habitat; improvement of water availability, quality, and temperature; and other related activities

River Network Resources: coming soon!

Contact Grace Fullmer to learn more and share your experience.

WaterSMART Cooperative Watershed Management Program (CWMP) - Bureau of Reclamation

Bureau of Reclamation’s Cooperative Watershed Management Program (CWMP) contributes to the WaterSMART strategy by providing funding to watershed groups to encourage diverse stakeholders to form local solutions to address their water management needs.

Addresses: watershed group development and watershed restoration planning, implementation of watershed management projects

Current Funding Opportunities:

FY24 Cooperative Watershed Management Program Phase II funding

Due by: 9/3/24

River Network Resources: Chelsea Silva’s April 2023 blog post

Contact Chelsea Silva and Grace Fullmer to learn more and share your experience.

WaterSMART, Other Programs - Bureau of Reclamation

Through WaterSMART, the Bureau of Reclamation will continue to work cooperatively with states, tribes, and local entities as they plan for and implement actions to increase water supply through investments to modernize existing infrastructure and avoid potential water conflicts.

Addresses: adequate and safe water supply in western states

River Network Resources: coming soon!

Contact Grace Fullmer to learn more and share your experience.

Community Change Grants - EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Community Change Grants Program is investing an unprecedented $2 billion in environmental and climate justice activities to benefit “disadvantaged communities.”

Addresses: Funds projects that reduce pollution, increase community climate resilience, and support communities in addressing environmental and climate justice challenges.

Current Funding Opportunities:

Community Change Grants Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)

Due By: 11/21/24

River Network Resources:$2 Billion Available Now to Advance Equitable Climate Resilience and Pollution,” by Campbell Simmons, March 2024

Contact Campbell Simmons to learn more and share your experience.

Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) - EPA

Under the CWSRF, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides grants to all 50 states plus Puerto Rico to capitalize state CWSRF loan programs. The 51 CWSRF programs function like environmental infrastructure banks by providing low interest loans to eligible recipients for water infrastructure projects. As money is paid back into the state’s revolving loan fund, the state makes new loans to other recipients for high priority, water quality activities.

Addresses: construction of publicly owned treatment works; nonpoint source; national estuary program projects; decentralized wastewater treatment systems; stormwater; water conservation, efficiency, and reuse; watershed pilot projects; energy efficiency; water reuse; security measures at publicly owned treatment works; technical assistance

River Network Resources: State Revolving Fund Advocacy Toolkit, fact sheets on eight SRF topics in English and Spanish, Self-Paced Online Learning Series, SRF State Advocates Forum, TA Providers information

Resources from Network Members: “Using CWSRFs for Greening and Climate Resilience” from American Rivers

“What Are State Revolving Funds and Why Should Watershed Leaders Care?” Blog from Becca Trueman, Quantified Ventures

Contact Erin Kanzig and Campbell Simmons (CWSRF) to learn more and share your experience.

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) - EPA

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s DWSRF is a financial assistance program to help water systems and states to achieve the health protection objectives of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Congress appropriates funding for the DWSRF. EPA then awards capitalization grants to each state for their DWSRF based upon the results of the most recent Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment.

Addresses: improving drinking water treatment, fixing leaky or old pipes (water distribution), improving source of water supply, replacing or constructing finished water storage tanks, removing lead service lines, remediates PFAS contamination, other infrastructure projects needed to protect public health

River Network Resources: State Revolving Fund Advocacy Toolkit, fact sheets on eight SRF topics in English and Spanish, Self-Paced Online Learning Series, SRF State Advocates Forum, TA Providers information

Resources from Network Members: EPIC’s DWSRF Tracker, EPIC and SEAS’s “Drinking Water Equity” report

Contact Erin Kanzig to learn more and share your experience.

Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Cooperative Agreement Program - EPA

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Cooperative Agreement Program provides financial assistance to eligible organizations working to address local environmental or public health issues in their communities.

Addresses: local environmental or public health issues in a collaborative manner with various stakeholders such as communities, industry, academic institutions, and others

River Network Resources: coming soon!

Contact Diana Toledo to learn more and share your experience.

Environmental Justice Thriving Communities (EJ TCGM) Grantmaking Program - EPA

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s new Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking (EJ TCGM) Program is a competition to select multiple Grantmakers around the nation to reduce barriers to the federal grants application process communities face and increase the efficiency of the awards process for environmental justice grants.

Addresses: reducing barriers to the application process and increasing the efficiency of the awards process for environmental justice grants

River Network Resources: coming soon!

Contact Diana Toledo to learn more and share your experience.

Building Resilient Infrastructure for Communities (BRIC) - FEMA

The BRIC program is a hazard mitigation grant program under Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) meant to aim focus at building proactive infrastructure solutions to strengthen resilience in states, territories, tribes, and local governments that have faced major disasters in the last 7 years.

Addresses: flooding, resilience, natural disaster mitigation, and capacity building

River Network Resources: Explore our BRIC fact sheet.

Contact Campbell Simmons to learn more and share your experience.

Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMA) - FEMA

The Flood Mitigation Assistance grant program from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is a competitive program that provides funding to states, local communities, federally recognized tribes and territories. Funds can be used for projects that reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flood damage to buildings insured by the National Flood Insurance Program.

Addresses: flooding, flood risk

River Network Resources: FMA fact sheet

Contact Campbell Simmons to learn more and share your experience.

Community Development Block Grant – for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) - HUD

US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides flexible Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds to help cities, counties, and states to recover from Presidentially declared disasters.

Addresses: recovery from Presidentially declared disasters

River Network Resources: coming soon!

Contact Campbell Simmons to learn more and share your experience.

Coastal Habitat Restoration and Resilience Grant for Tribes and Underserved Communities - NOAA

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Coastal Habitat Restoration and Resilience Grants for Tribes and Underserved Communities engages tribes and underserved communities in habitat restoration activities that promote resilient ecosystems and communities. This program aims to ensure that communities are integral to the visioning and decision-making for coastal habitat restoration projects that affect them, and that they directly benefit from these projects.

Addresses: Community-driven habitat restoration and capacity building of tribes and underserved communities to more fully participate in restoration activities.

River Network Resources: Coastal Habitat Restoration and Resilience Grant for Tribes and Underserved Communities fact sheet

Contact Campbell Simmons to learn more and share your experience.

Fish Passage - NOAA

NOAA’s Office of Habitat Conservation’s Restoration Center will implement the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s fish passage provision by providing technical assistance and funding through competitive grant processes over five years to restore fish passage through the removal of dams and other in-stream barriers to restore marine, estuarine, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystem habitat.

Addresses: restoration of fish passage by removing in-stream barriers and providing technical assistance for projects that reopen migratory pathways and restore access to healthy habitat for fish around the country

River Network Resources: coming soon!

Contact Grace Fullmer to learn more and share your experience.

National Coastal Resilience Fund (NCRF) - NFWF/NOAA

National Fish and Wildlife Federation (NFWF) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Coastal Resilience Fund restores, increases and strengthens natural infrastructure to protect coastal communities while also enhancing habitats for fish and wildlife.

Addresses: Restoration or expansion of natural features that minimize the impacts of storms and other naturally occurring events on nearby communities

River Network Resources: NCRF fact sheet

Contact Campbell Simmons to learn more and share your experience.

Urban Community Forestry Program - USDA/USFS

By working with state partners, national pass-through partners like River Network and community tree groups, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Forest Service (USFS)’s Urban and Community Forestry Program invests from the ground up in communities, improving more than 140 million acres of urban and community forest across the United States.

Addresses: urban tree-planting, urban forest planning and management, and related activities, particularly in disadvantaged communities (as defined by Justice40)

River Network Resources: River Network will be releasing a Request for Proposals under the Urban and Community Forestry Program in the coming months! The RFP will be announced via River Voices, River Network’s digital newsletter.

Contact Diana Toledo to learn more and share your experience.

Conservation Programs - USDA/NRCS

USDA/NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)  Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), and other USDA conservation programs form the federal government’s largest investment for voluntary private land conservation practices and other natural resource concerns. These programs are authorized through the Farm Bill.

Addresses: 

  • EQIP: Conservation planning, technical assistance, and financial assistance to producers who own farm, ranch, and forest land. A wide variety of eligible conservation measures can help conserve ground and surface water, improve water quality, and mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • CSP: Implements conservation practices on private working agricultural land through 5-year contracts. It is the largest conservation program funded through the Farm Bill. Eligible practices vary by state.
  • RCPP: Public-private partnerships focus on agriculture and conservation. There are two funding pools, 1/2 focus on critical conservation areas and 1/2 are for projects in states/multistate areas. Projects can address nutrient management, spur adoption of NRCS-based conservation practices, increase surface water supplies through drought resilience projects, and much more. See an example here about a project to protect the Upper Pearl River in Mississippi.

River Network Resources: USDA Conservation Programs resource page, Colorado Stream Management Plan Peer Call: Federal Funding for Implementation

Contact April Ingle, Erin Kanzig, and Grace Fullmer to learn more and share your experience.

National Fish Passage Program - USFS

US Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Fish Passage Program restores rivers, protects wildlife, and rebuilds economies.

Addresses: removal of obsolete and dangerous barriers, permanently eliminating public safety hazards and restoring river ecosystems

River Network Resources: coming soon!

Contact Grace Fullmer to learn more and share your experience.

Events Around the Network

WaterSMART Grants – Info Session & Discussion

04/30/2024 @ 1:00 pm EDT – 2:00 pm EDT –

Unlocking Resources: Leveraging Federal Funding through Nonprofit-Municipality Collaboration

04/23/2024 @ 3:00 pm EDT – 4:00 pm EDT –

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