Information on Water Efficiency Stimulus Funding

Greening Water Infrastructure

An economic stimulus package has passed that will create jobs and help the economy recover from the worsening recession (Learn more about American Rivers Legislative Effort on the Stimulus). A portion of spending is being allocated to wastewater and drinking water infrastructure and ecosystem restoration. This funding will allow communities to invest in critical water systems that have been neglected for too long through insufficient funding and rapid development. However, in an era of tightening budgets and growing deficits, we cannot afford to repeat the wasteful and inefficient investments in water infrastructure that we have made in the past. We must embrace green infrastructure techniques such as green roofs and rain gardens as well as water efficiency if we are to secure the clean water we’ll need to drive future economic growth. Fortunately green infrastructure and water efficiency are proven solutions that can create jobs and solve stormwater and drinking water problems in a cost-effective manner.

We also have the opportunity to undo decades worth of damage done to our nation’s rivers by embracing the habitat restoration opportunities the stimulus package offers. Removing outdated dams, retrofitting ineffectual culverts, and investing in natural approaches to flood management creates jobs in a variety of fields and can build more resilient communities.

What Funding Is Available?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 includes significant funding for clean water, drinking water, and habitat restoration programs.

Clean Water:

  • $4 billion for clean water projects, $2 billion for drinking water projects. This money will be going through the State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs and of that total $1.2 billion (20%) must be used for a mandatory set aside for green infrastructure (e.g. stormwater mitigation), water or energy efficiency improvements or other environmentally innovative activities. Of the total $6 billion, a full 50% of the SRF funds must be reserved for principal forgiveness or negative interest rate loans (essentially making the money grants).
  • Visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s SRF Stimulus Webpage

See a summary of river-related programs in stimulus package, including first steps to access funding.

River Restoration:

  • Press Release – New information on funding unsafe dam removal with stimulus dollars
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: $230 million for operations, research, and facilities including addressing backlog in habitat restoration and other activities. Up to $170 million dollars is currently available for habitat restoration projects. For additional information on coastal and marine habitat restoration funding, please visit NOAA’s website.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Construction: $115 million for priority construction, repair, habitat restoration and other activities on Service properties.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Resource Management: $165 million for priority critical deferred maintenance, capital improvements, habitat restoration and other activities on Service properties.
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service: $290 million for structural and nonstructural watershed infrastructure improvements, including purchase and restoration of floodplain easements. NEW – click herefor more information on NRCS funding.
  • U.S. Forest Service: $650 million for priority road, bridge and trail maintenance, including related watershed restoration and ecosystem enhancements projects.

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What You Need To Do To Leverage Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF

Each state must be ready to move the funding quickly, or the funding will revert back to the administrator. Currently it looks like the window is very small, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requiring states to get their lists in very quickly. At the moment, these appear to be draft lists and there does appear to be some opportunities to extend deadlines, so there may still be an opportunity to influence the lists and projects later. However, the deadlines depend on how the EPA interprets the final bill and deadlines are likely to be very short. Because of the uncertainty surrounding the final interpretation of the bill, its important that we try to get as many green projects as we can on these lists NOW! So here’s what you need to do:

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Additional Resources