Funding sources for local water protection projects or initiatives - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Funding sources for local water protection projects or initiatives

People from many walks of life frequently ask me about funding sources for local water protection projects or initiatives, so MPC developed this list.  While extensive, it is not exhaustive, and it's very possible that we are missing some.  If that's the case, please contact me with relevant information to be added to this list.




The US EPA has a catalog of federal funding sources for watershed protection. Potential applicants can search by criteria such as the type of assistance sought and the type of organization seeking assistance (in this case, local government). If they select to “Get [search] results in table format”, the resulting table will provide the name of the funding program, a brief overview, and the funding levels for fiscal year 2011.  Information on grant funding in Region 5 (which is where northeastern Illinois is) can be found here. provides organizations with the ability to search for competitive grants from all grant-making Federal agencies, register to receive grant notices via e-mail, and download grant applications.

The  Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) provides access to a database of all federal programs available to state and local governments (including the District of Columbia); federally-recognized Indian tribal governments; territories (and possessions) of the United States; domestic public, quasi-public, and private profit and non-profit organizations and institutions; specialized groups; and individuals. After finding the desired program, contact the office that administers the program and find out how to apply.

Targeted Watersheds Grants Program

Established in 2003, the Targeted Watersheds Grant program is designed to encourage successful community-based approaches and management techniques to protect and restore the nation's watersheds. The goal is to support a new urban waters movement by building highly capable organizations that are self-sustaining and can carry out programs to protect human health and the environment. The urban waterways in many communities are compromised landscapes, impacted by various sources of pollution and often neglected and ignored. These capacity-building subgrants will provide local organizations, tribal and local governments with skills and techniques to protect their urban waterways and promote more vibrant, economically sustainable communities.

Wetlands Program Development Grants

WPDGs can continue to be used by recipients to build and refine any element of a comprehensive wetland program, priority will be given to funding projects that address the three priority areas identified by EPA: Developing a comprehensive monitoring and assessment program; improving the effectiveness of compensatory mitigation; and refining the protection of vulnerable wetlands and aquatic resources. States, Tribes, local governments (S/T/LGs), interstate associations, intertribal consortia, and national non-profit, non-governmental organizations are eligible to apply.

Five Star Restoration Program

The Five Star Restoration Program brings together students, conservation corps, other youth groups, citizen groups, corporations, landowners and government agencies to provide environmental education and training through projects that restore wetlands and streams. The program provides challenge grants, technical support and opportunities for information exchange to enable community-based restoration projects.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

GLRI funds address five urgent issues: cleaning up toxics and areas of concern; combating invasive species; promoting nearshore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off; restoring wetlands and other habitats; and tracking progress and working with strategic partners.


Click here for information on federal water quality funding sources beyond EPA's programs including funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the US Department of Interior, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, etc.



Section 319 (h) Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Financial Assistance Program

Section 319 funding is for projects focused on the Implementation of a Watershed Based Plan or TMDL Implementation Plan; Development of a Watershed Based Plan, TMDL or TMDL Implementation Plan; Best Management Practice (BMP) Implementation; Information and Outreach; Monitoring; Research. Eligible entities may be any organization that has legal status to accept funds from the state of Illinois, including; state and local governmental units, nonprofit organizations, citizen and environmental groups, individuals and businesses

Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant Program for Stormwater Management (IGIG)

IGIG grants are available to local units of government and other organizations to implement green infrastructure best management practices to control stormwater runoff for water quality protection in Illinois. Projects must be located within a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) or Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) area. Funds are limited to the implementation of projects to install best management practices (BMPs).

Wastewater & Drinking Water State Revolving Funds

The revolving loan funds program is available to fund a wide variety of water quality projects including all types of nonpoint source, watershed protection or restoration, and estuary management projects, as well as more traditional municipal wastewater treatment projects.

Illinois Clean Lakes Program

The Illinois Clean Lakes Program (ICLP) is a financial assistance grant program that supports lake owners' interest and commitment to long-term, comprehensive lake management. Through the ICLP, Illinois EPA provides technical and financial assistance primarily to governmental entities that manage publicly-owned lakes with extensive public access and use. Controlling sources of pollution affecting water quality, restoring lakes that have deteriorated in recreational and ecological quality, and protecting high quality lake resources are the primary objectives of the program.

Priority Lake and Watershed Implementation Program

The Priority Lake and Watershed Implementation Program (PLWIP) supports lake protection, restoration, and enhancement activities at "priority" lakes where causes and sources of problems are apparent, project sites are highly accessible, project size is relatively small, and local entities are in a position to quickly implement necessary treatments.

Small Systems Compliance Grant Program

The Small Systems Compliance Grant (SSCG) program is a new opportunity for small community water supplies (small systems) that are in noncompliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and state drinking water requirements, to receive funding from the Illinois EPA to construct projects that will remedy system deficiencies and bring them back into compliance.

Urban and Community Forestry Assistance Grant Program

The purpose of the Urban and Community Forestry Assistance Grant Program is to provide financial assistance to local units of government for the development of local urban and community forestry programs. These activities must help to establish, manage, conserve and preserve the urban and community forests from inner city to associated public lands.

Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development Program and Land and Water Conservation Fund

The Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) Program is a state-financed grant program that provides funding assistance to local government agencies for acquisition and/or development of land for public parks and open space. The federal Land & Water Conservation Fund program (known as both LWCF and LAWCON) is a similar program with similar objectives. Both are managed in Illinois by the Department of Natural Resources with concurrent application due dates, equal grant maximums and similar general rules.

Special Wildlife Funds Grant Program

Together these programs are designed to protect, acquire, enhance or manage wildlife habitat and to support limited research and educational programs to further advance this mission.

Partners for Conservation Ecosystems Program

Provides grants to Ecosystem Partnerships for projects that preserve and enhance the region’s resources, while addressing local economic and recreational concerns.

Community Development Assistance Program

Communities may apply for grant funds to undertake projects that improve public infrastructure and eliminate conditions detrimental to health, safety and public welfare.  The funding priority for the component is water, sanitary and storm sewer projects.

Illinois Coastal Management Program 

Once approved by the federal government, this program will provide grants for communities along the Lake Michigan coastline to engage in a range of projects, from shoreline restoration to harborfront planning.



Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation

Through its Natural Areas Program, the Foundation supports nonprofit organizations and local governments in their efforts to protect and preserve important natural areas and wildlife habitat across Illinois. The primary focus of the Foundation's Natural Areas Program is land acquisition. The Foundation also provides grants to assist small and emerging not-for-profit organizations to expand their capacity for land acquisition and protection, as well as a limited number of grants to enable established groups to partner with each other to plan for strategic habitat acquisitions.

Illinois American Water, Environmental Grant Program

Established in 2005, the Environmental Grant Program offers funds for innovative, community-based environmental projects that improve, restore or protect the watersheds, surface water and/or groundwater supplies in local communities served by Illinois American Water.

Great Lakes Protection Fund

The Fund can support virtually any type of organization. The exact type of organization is far less important than the number and breadth of organizations on the project team. Non-profit organizations, individuals, units of government, and for-profit businesses are all eligible for support as long as they show that the proposed work has clear public benefit and that any related financial benefits will accrue to the public good. Government agencies are eligible for support if they show that Fund monies are not being used to replace public funds or support government mandates. The Fund seeks projects that lead to tangible improvements in the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem, promote the interdependence of healthy ecological and economic systems, and are innovative, creative, and venturesome.

Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Foundation

The Coca-Cola Company and its philanthropic arm, The Coca-Cola Foundation, aim to make a greater impact around the world by being responsive to the citizenship needs of the communities where we live and work. Working with local community, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, they support projects most relevant to community needs. The programs, which also include customized local initiatives, are focused on those areas where we feel we can make a unique and sustainable difference.

Additionally, the following philanthropic organizations have all supported water-related initiatives in the past:


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