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Funding for Source Water Protection

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A variety of programs provide funding for source water protection activities at the local, state and federal levels.  This page identifies useful resources for finding financial assistance tools.

Contamination has its costs

Communities, states, and consumers bear the economic burden when drinking water sources are contaminated. Preventing source water contamination can be less costly than remedying its effects, such as:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Paying for alternative or emergency water supplies
  • Adding more water treatment
  • Finding new water sources
  • Decreased property values and loss of tax base
  • Loss of citizens' confidence in their drinking water, public utilities, and community leaders

Preventing source water contamination is preferable to remedying its negative effects.

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Basic information about funding

There is no single funding source for implementing source water protection activities. Fortunately, broad-based sources of funding can mean broad-based support for protection activities.

Protecting sources of drinking water can also help federal programs, states, and communities meet other environmental and social goals, such as:

  • Green space conservation
  • Stormwater planning
  • Management of nonpoint source pollution (such as runoff from agricultural lands)
  • Brownfields redevelopment

An important question to ask when you prepare a source water protection funding package is: "What else is going on in my watershed or wellhead protection area?" The answer may lead you to a combination of government programs and financing structures which can shape your funding package.

You may find funding through programs such as these:

  • Capital improvement programs
  • Community development block grants
  • Clean Water Act funds, including State Revolving Fund and Section 319 monies
  • Project maintenance funding
  • Land acquisition programs
  • Urban programs
  • Wetland programs
  • Riparian forest buffer programs

Partnerships between local businesses, industries and communities can also help source water protection efforts.  Examples include:

  • Using landscaping to help protect against runoff
  • Reducing or eliminating pesticide, insecticide and herbicide use
  • Replacing impervious surfaces

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One-stop shopping for federal funding

The catalog of federal and domestic assistance (CFDA) is a compilation of assistance programs administered by federal agencies or state and local governments. You can search the assistance program listings for appropriate programs related to an issue like water quality protection or source water protection.

Review options for federal funding:

Safe Drinking Water Act funding

EPA awards grants to states to establish revolving loan funds to assist public water systems. Funding for the DWSRF is provided through the annual Congressional appropriations process. Funds capitalize state loan banks to help maintain local drinking water infrastructure like treatment plants and distribution systems.

States may elect to set aside some of their annual allotments to support source water protection. Please see "DWSRF link" for more information.

Clean Water Act funding

  • Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) - State CWSRF programs fund water quality protection projects for:
    • Improving water quality
    • Protecting and restoring drinking water sources
    • Preserving waters for recreational use
    • Wastewater treatment, nonpoint source pollution control, and watershed and estuary management
  • Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is a threat to many drinking water sources. NPS pollution results from land runoff, precipitation, atmospheric deposition, drainage, seepage or hydrologic modification. Under section 319 of the Clean Water Act, states, territories, and tribes make decisions about nonpoint source pollution management activities.

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Financial technical assistance for water utilities

The water utility community can get financial and technical assistance and advice from the Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center.