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Hazard Mitigation Assistance Programs Available to Water and Wastewater Utilities

You can prevent damage to your utility before it occurs. Utilities can implement mitigation projects to:

  • Better withstand a natural disaster
  • Minimize damage
  • Rapidly recover from disruptions to service

You should participate in your community's hazard mitigation efforts. Getting your utility project listed in the local hazard mitigation plan is a requirement to obtain certain types of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding.

FEMA has several hazard mitigation programs that are available for eligible water and wastewater utilities. FEMA can pay up to 75% of project costs. The state (recipient) or utility (subrecipient) must provide a 25% match, (for example, cash or in-kind resources like labor). FEMA's disaster mitigation funding programs include:

See this resource for a listing of successful water and wastewater utility hazard mitigation projects funded by FEMA. 


On this page:

Mitigation Eligibility

  1. Who can apply for mitigation funding programs?
  2. How is funding awarded?
  3. What is the difference between FEMA Public Assistance Program (406 Mitigation) and HMGP Program (404 Mitigation)?
 

1. Who can apply for mitigation funding programs?

FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance funding is available to water and wastewater utilities. The table below summarizes eligibility.

FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program Eligibility for Water and Wastewater Utilities

FEMA Program Eligibility for FEMA Program
Publicly Owned1 Private Not for Profit (PNP) Private for Profit(PFP)
Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program (PDM) YES No, but Local Government can apply on utility's behalf2 No, but Local Government can apply on utility's behalf2
Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMA)3 YES No, but Local Government can apply on utility's behalf2 No, but Local Government can apply on utility's behalf2
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) YES YES No, but Local Government can apply on utility's behalf2
Public Assistance Grant Program (PAGP) YES YES NO

1 Publicly owned utilities typically are part of a local government or municipality and any subapplications are submitted as a part of the local government's subapplication packet.

2 While not usually an eligible subapplicant, PNP and PFP utilities that are considered critical infrastructure and may be able to get their local governments to apply on their behalf. Contact your State Hazard Mitigation Officer.

Must be insured by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

2. How is funding awarded?

The "applicant" is the state, territory, commonwealth or Indian tribal government. The applicant prepares and submits the application and accepts input from the subapplicant (e.g., local government or utility). Utilities should contact the local government administrator or State Hazard Mitigation Officer (SHMO) to apply for grants.

When funding is awarded, the applicant (state) receives the award from FEMA and then provides the funds to the local government or utility with a subaward in a "pass-through".

 

3. What is the difference between FEMA Public Assistance Program (406 Mitigation) and HMGP Program (404 Mitigation)?

In general, both programs are prompted by a Presidential Disaster Declaration. The program differences are summarized in the table below.

FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (404 Mitigation) FEMA Public Assistance Program (406 Mitigation)
Competitively funded against other mitigation projects in the state. Discretionary funding that can total up to 15% of total eligible cost for the repair work.
Can be used throughout the state for non-damaged facilities for the purpose of hazard mitigation. Can only be used on the damaged element of a facility that is being repaired to prevent future damage.
Mitigation work must be cost‐effective through rigorous benefit‐cost analysis. Mitigation work must be cost‐effective (certain types of mitigation is automatically accepted as being cost effective).

Sometimes, both mitigation programs can be combined. For example, Section 406 funds can mitigate utility pumps that were damaged during a recent flood disaster and Section 404 funds can mitigate flooding to a key culvert was threatened with damage during the same flood.

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Mitigation Projects

What are some example mitigation projects for water or wastewater utilities?

Examples of mitigation projects for utilities include:

  • Flooded generators - elevating generators and electrical service panels.
  • Washed out culverts - enlarging culverts to better handle flood surges.
  • Flooded electrical equipment - providing flood protection around an electrical substation and transformers.
  • Earthquake pipe damage - modifying pipes with flexible joints.
  • Raw water intakes - strengthening raw water intakes to prevent damage from erosion, sediment, scour and flood debris.
  • Flood damaged pumps - replacing pumps with submersible or inline pumps.

FEMA mitigation projects fall into one of six general categories. Water and wastewater utility projects may fit more than one category.

Review Example Mitigation Projects for Water and Wastewater Utilities.

See a table of Successful Mitigation Projects Submitted by Water/Wastewater Utilities. The information is taken from FEMA. There is no guarantee that similar projects will be funded, as decisions are competitive and based on availability of funds.

FEMA is also encouraging mitigation projects to address climate resilience including projects on green infrastructure, floodplain and stream restoration, aquifer storage and recovery, and flood diversion and storage. See FEMA factsheets.

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Cost Effective Mitigation

  1. How do you determine if a hazard mitigation project is cost-effective under FEMA's Public Assistance Grant Program?
  2. How do you determine if a hazard mitigation project is cost-effective under FEMA's other hazard mitigation programs?
 

1. How do you determine if a hazard mitigation project is cost-effective under FEMA's Public Assistance Grant Program?

FEMA lists several types of potential mitigation projects for water and wastewater utilities that are pre-determined to be cost-effective.

Review Mitigation Projects Considered Cost-Effective by FEMA for Water and Wastewater Utilities.

 

2. How do you determine if a hazard mitigation project is cost-effective under FEMA's other hazard mitigation programs?

FEMA requires a benefit-cost analysis (BCA) to determine the cost-effectiveness of projects submitted under FEMA's other Hazard Mitigation Assistance grants (e.g., PDM, HMGP, FMA). Applicants and subapplicants must use the FEMA-approved methods and BCA tool. The FEMA BCA tool and technical guides are available in the Benefit-Cost Analysis Toolkit. To get the latest version:

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Application Process

How does the FEMA Hazard Mitigation application process work?

The application process for the mitigation (Section 406) under FEMA's Public Assistance Grant Program is provided under the "Mitigation Funding" in the Fed FUNDS FEMA Public Assistance Grant Program section.

Under the other FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grants (e.g., PDM, HMGP and FMA), eligible recipients (states, tribes, territories) make subawards to local governments (including utilities). Utilities, along with the local government applying on their behalf, are considered “subapplicants.” The applicant selects and prioritizes applications to submit to FEMA.

FEMA's Project Tip Sheet (checklist of activities) is available when developing project subapplications.

Applicants must use FEMA's Mitigation Electronic Grants Management System (MT eGrants) to submit their Pre‐Disaster Mitigation (PDM) or Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) applications. HMGP applications are submitted by the applicant to FEMA via National Emergency Management Information System (NEMIS).

Subapplicants should consult their SHMO for further information regarding specific program and application requirements:

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Plan Project

  1. What is included in an application?
  2. What should a mitigation project cost estimate include?
  3. What are some common methods of estimating project costs for mitigation projects?
 

1. What is included in an application or subapplication?

In general, FEMA HMA applications include:

  • a detailed scope of work (SOW), including the location, purpose, objective(s), approach, feasibility, expected outcomes, photographs and benefits of the activity;
  • a work schedule for all tasks identified in the SOW;
  • a cost estimate and narrative that describe all anticipated costs associated with the SOW and that identify source(s) and amounts of non-federal cost share contribution(s);
  • a complete and well‐documented benefit-cost analysis (BCA);
  • appropriate support to determine feasibility and effectiveness, including a demonstration of conformance with accepted engineering practices, established codes, laws and standards such as ADA, modeling techniques or best practices;
  • sufficient information about potential impacts on environmental resources and historic properties (EHP) in the project area.

Utilities can use FEMA's Procedures for Developing Scopes of Work to help apply for funding:

 

2. What should a mitigation project cost estimate include?

The cost estimate includes all of the anticipated expenses for the proposed mitigation activity. Cost estimates must include the following:
  • detailed estimates of various cost item categories such as labor, materials, equipment and subcontractor costs. FEMA does not accept lump‐sum estimates;
  • explanation of how the cost estimate was developed. Include the basis for each cost element. Provide detailed documentation if a cost estimate is based on a contractor's bid or historic costs from another activity.
 

3. What are some common methods of estimating project costs for mitigation projects?

The two most common methods of estimating project costs are time and materials and competitively bid contracts.

  1. Time and materials estimates are used for force account work. Use this method on projects that will be completed by utility employees, using your own (or rented) equipment and material purchased by the utility or from your inventory.
  2. Competitively bid contracts summarize costs for work from an outside source. Contract costs are generally for work already completed. However, the contract price can be used if work has not begun, but a contract has been bid or let.

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Keys to Success

  1. Are there any other overall tips about applying for FEMA mitigation funding?
  2. Does FEMA provide assistance to complete HMA Grant applications?
 

1. Are there any other overall tips about applying for FEMA mitigation funding?

Contact your local emergency planning officials to ensure critical utility infrastructure has been included in the local hazard mitigation plan (HMP). Persuade your local emergency management officials to develop and implement a plan if one does not exist (FEMA will pay 75% of the costs associated with developing a HMP).

Utilities should meet and work closely with their State Hazard Mitigation Officer (SHMO). The SHMO will work with utilities to develop and submit subapplications and could provide technical assistance with engineering or design work sometimes at no cost.

 

2. Does FEMA provide assistance to complete HMA grant applications?

FEMA has technical assistance helplines to assist applicants and sub-applicants. This includes help with engineering feasibility and effectiveness, benefit-cost analysis (BCA), and environmental and historic preservation.

Helplines can be reached via phone at (866) 222-3580 or by email. The Helplines guarantee a 48-hour response time.

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