Stormwater Management Funding

The Clean Water Act requires all cities to manage stormwater — rain water that runs off of impervious surfaces and often overwhelms water and sewer systems. Poorly managed stormwater runoff leads to flooding and polluted waterways, particularly in older cities with aging water infrastructure and combined stormwater and sewer overflow (CSO) systems. Stormwater is managed through both gray infrastructure, such as underground pipes and tunnels, and green infrastructure, such as rain gardens, bioswales, and other nature-based approaches to reducing water flow.

Federal Funding

Environmental Protection Agency

  • Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program

    Co-sponsors, the EPA and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, work to develop community capacity with modest financial and technical assistance to diverse local partnerships for urban restoration and education programs. Streambank and shoreline stabilization, stormwater management, urban tree canopy restoration, and projects to prevent trash in waterways are just a few of the projects awarded grants. The grants are administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's (NFWF) Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program.
    Typical Grant Amount
    Up to $100,000
    Accessibility of Funds
    Very Accessible
    Match from other sources
    50 to 75%
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance
    Learn More
  • Clean Water State Revolving Fund

    Clean Water State Revolving Funds provide low-interest loans for water infrastructure and management projects. Beginning with The American Recovery Act (ARRA) of 2009, Congress requires all CWSRF programs to use a portion of their federal grant for green infrastructure projects, water and energy efficiency, or other environmentally innovative activities, called the Green Project Reserve. The EPA issued a policy encouraging states to prioritize green infrastructure in their CWSRF programs in 2016. Although it is a loan program, CWSRF has the flexibility for debt purchasing or refinancing, loan guarantees and insurance to increase access to private credit markets or to lower borrowing costs. States can also reward high-priority projects with incentives, including subsidies. Some states have built-in priority points for green infrastructure, including Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana, New Hampshire, Maryland, and New Mexico. Several states have opted to provide principal forgiveness, negative interest loans, and grants. The EPA reported that from 2009 to 2015, states provided more than $70 million in additional subsidization for green infrastructure projects.
    Typical Grant Amount
    Varies
    Accessibility of Funds
    Very Difficult
    Match from other sources
    Varies
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Public water and wastewater service provider
    Learn More
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State Funding Models

  • New York Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC)

    The Green Innovation Grant Program (GIGP) supports unique stormwater infrastructure designs with financial assistance, technical support, and administrative guidance. Selected projects maximize the many benefits of green infrastructure, spur innovation in stormwater management, build capacity, and speed adoption of new technologies and practices. Recipients receive a grant for up to 90 percent of their construction costs (including eligible planning and design). New York State EFC also has the Integrated Solutions Construction Grant Program for incorporating green infrastructure into Clean Water State Revolving Fund projects.
    Typical Grant Amount
    Over $1,000,000
    Accessibility of Funds
    Very Accessible
    Match from other sources
    10%
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition
    Learn More
  • Maryland Green Streets, Green Towns, Green Jobs Initiative

    A joint initiative of the US EPA and the Chesapeake Bay Trust that supports design projects, financing strategies, and implementation of green street projects. This grant program helps communities reduce stormwater runoff, increase the number and amount of green spaces in urban areas, improve the health of local streams and the Chesapeake Bay, and enhance quality of life and community livability. In particular, the G3 Partnership supports local, grassroots-level greening efforts in urbanized watersheds
    Typical Grant Amount
    Up to $100,000
    Accessibility of Funds
    Very Difficult
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition
    Learn More
  • Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant Program

    This Illinois grant program “seeds” green infrastructure projects with additional funding for green projects, with an emphasis on urban stormwater. The funds establish green infrastructure best management practices (BMPs) that prevent, eliminate, or reduce water quality impairments by decreasing stormwater runoff into the state’s waterways.
    Typical Grant Amount
    Up to $100,000
    Accessibility of Funds
    Very Difficult
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition
    Learn More
  • Wastewater and Stormwater Utility Revenue

    In many communities, water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities are partnering with park agencies to build green infrastructure in parks to meet their regulatory requirements. Cities, their wastewater and stormwater utilities, and their flood control districts are required to limit stormwater volume and pollutants under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). Water utilities can meet their regulatory requirements, and avoid significant financial penalties, by investing in green infrastructure, gray infrastructure, or some combination of both.Water utilities may prefer investing in green over gray infrastructure. It is often less expensive and offers additional quality of life, environmental, and health benefits, which make it easier for utilities to “sell” necessary ratepayer increases.In order to partner with a water utility on green infrastructure, it is essential to find projects that meet their regulatory requirements and the community’s park and greenspace needs. Other partners that can be critical to building a successful program include school districts, park agencies, departments of the environment, nonprofit land trusts, and park conservancies.Many cities and wastewater utilities operate under an EPA consent decree that establishes clean water milestones to be reached over 20 years in order to avoid financial penalties. Some utilities have negotiated green infrastructure investments in their milestones.Examples of water utilities partnering on park and green infrastructure investments is critical to convincing water utilities it is not only a viable, but an advantageous approach.

    Typical Grant Amount
    Varies
    Accessibility of Funds
    Very Difficult
    Match from other sources
    Varies
    Park Funding Use
    Capital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance
    Eligibility for Accessing Funds
    Defined by local government
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Additional Resources

Case Studies

Share Your Experience

This Hub highlights select federal and state funding programs that can be particularly effective at funding parks and green infrastructure in low-income communities. It is not intended to be a comprehensive source of funding opportunities, but a starting point with examples, links to additional information, and case studies.

We invite you to help us make this Hub stronger by sharing your experiences applying for, and implementing programs with these funding sources.

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The Clean Water Act requires all cities to manage stormwater — rain water that runs off of impervious surfaces and often overwhelms water and sewer systems. Poorly managed stormwater runoff leads to flooding and polluted waterways, particularly in older cities with aging water infrastructure and combined stormwater and sewer overflow (CSO) systems. Stormwater is managed through both gray infrastructure, such as underground pipes and tunnels, and green infrastructure, such as rain gardens, bioswales, and other nature-based approaches to reducing water flow.

Intentional policies — from housing to transportation to land use — have led cities to develop in such a way as to place low-income people and communities of color at risk of flooding and water pollution. Deteriorating neighborhood infrastructure and aging homes increase residents’ vulnerability. Focusing stormwater management in low-income communities can mitigate flooding, clean waterways, improve air quality, and provide recreational amenities to residents.

The primary funding sources, outside of municipal budgets, include local or regional water utility revenue and federal and state green infrastructure funding. Maintenance is generally funded through municipal budgets and water utility revenues.

For more information on funding for flood prevention and disaster recovery, see the section on Climate Adaptation and Disaster Recovery.