Funding Water Reuse Projects Takes Preparation

Many communities battling water scarcity are already sold on water reuse but can’t seem to clear the financial hurdles that keep them from building new facilities. Often, our municipal clients know there is money available, but effective timing and approach can elude them. Depending on state or region there may be local funding available, however, taking a top-down approach — starting with federal opportunities — can maximize municipalities’ eligibility for grants and low-interest loans and help them avoid missteps that could disqualify their projects.

A WIINing Strategy

Under the umbrella of the WaterSMART programs, utilities in the 17 Western states and Hawaii can apply for project funding through the Bureau of Reclamation’s (USBR) Title XVI – Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation (WIIN) program. Grants are allocated through an annual competitive application process and fund projects that reclaim or reuse municipal, industrial, or agricultural wastewater; or impaired groundwater or surface water.

USBR is expected to announce new funding opportunities for construction and implementation this summer, however, building an application for WIIN funding requires substantial lead time. Utilities that have not yet begun the process are unlikely to qualify for the upcoming opportunities, as applicants must complete a feasibility study and have it approved by USBR to be eligible for implementation grants. 2023 also saw the revival of WIIN grant funds for preparing your feasibility study – another round of planning grant funding may be coming in early 2024.


Carrie Del Boccio Practice Leader Water Reuse

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Does your project qualify for funding through Title XVI or WIIN?

It depends ...

Title XVI typically includes older programs and projects are no longer being congressionally authorized under this program. WIIN typically includes newer projects, so if your project isn’t currently on either list, you’ll want to focus your efforts on eligibility and subsequently applying for funding targeted to the WIIN list.

See the list of Title XVI Eligible Projects

See the list of WIIN Eligible Projects

Be ready for the next round of funding

  • Start now! Though often faster, USBR approval of feasibility studies can take up to 180 days; depending on your project’s development it may take two to nine months to create your draft feasibility study for submission to USBR. If you want to target the planning grant funding to support development of your feasibility study, write your scope of work and be ready for the next round of funding.
  • Explain your “Why!” Be clear about your water needs and how the proposed solution meets those needs. Create a compelling story about the economics of a reuse project compared to other water supply options. Look for places where you can highlight a nexus to federal needs such as relieving pressures on federal water systems. “Water supply” and “Economic benefits” are typically the evaluation criteria with the highest point totals so that’s where the biggest focus should be in developing your project concepts and your grant applications.
  • Pay attention to the national political climate! The funding applications are largely the same year over year with the exception of changes made based on where the federal government winds are blowing. The most recent round of funding applications, for example, contained a focus on environmental justice and the impact of your proposed project.
  • Partner for success! A program manager experienced in funding water reuse projects can help streamline the application process, maximize funding, and assure compliant and efficient funding tracking and administration.

Success story: East County Advanced Water Purification Program

Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s East County Advanced Water Purification (ECAWP) – Phase I Project was congressionally authorized under Title XVI. To advance Phase II of the project, Woodard & Curran prepared five successful grant applications through USBR’s Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse grant program on behalf of the District to secure approximately $20 million for the project (the maximum grant amount at the time). We later prepared a subsequent WIIN grant application and secured the maximum amount of $30 million in grant funding for the project. This recycled water project will create a new local, sustainable, and drought-proof drinking water supply through surface water augmentation.

Success story: Pure Water Oceanside Phase I

Our team supported the City of Oceanside in funding and executing the Pure Water Oceanside advanced water treatment (AWT) facility and related infrastructure. We successfully prepared feasibility studies and applications to secure over $17.6 million in Title XVI-WIIN funding and over $3 million in Integrated Regional Water Management funding through California’s Proposition 1. The AWT facility treats secondary effluent from the existing San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility for indirect potable reuse, with advanced treated water conveyed to injection wells to replenish the Mission Subbasin. Woodard & Curran has been involved with the City of Oceanside’s reuse efforts for over a decade, supporting them with advancement of both non-potable and potable services.

Success story: North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program

As part of our work as program manager for the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program (NVRRWP), Woodard & Curran helped the Cities of Modesto and Turlock and Del Puerto Water District (DPWD) identify and secure funding from a variety of sources. Each city applied for and secured a Clean Water SRF loan and Water Recycling Funding Program grant – Modesto secured $15 million in water recycling grant funding and a 1% loan and Turlock secured a low-interest loan and a $2.5 million grant. DPWD applied for and secured over $8.5 million in Title XVI-WIIN grant funding through two applications. The NVRRWP is a regional solution to water supply and reliability issues on the west side of California’s San Joaquin Valley, delivering recycled water to agricultural users and wildlife refuges.

Woodard & Curran’s clients benefit from our funding team’s intimate familiarity with the funding programs and USBR policies to successfully navigate the approval process. Of the 44 WIIN feasibility studies that have been approved by USBR for projects in California, Woodard & Curran prepared over one-third of them (a total of 15). Reach out to our team if you are looking for a trusted partner in developing your recycled water feasibility studies and applying for funding through Title XVI-WIIN and a variety of programs.

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