Clean Water State Revolving Funds for Source Water Protection
Another top recommendation from the Endowment’s 2011 Chicago Water Convening was to identify new sources of funding for source water protection projects. Two potential sources of funding are the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (State Revolving Funds). These federally capitalized sources have allowed states to make more than $100 billion in low-interest loans to protect drinking water. Most funds (96%) have supported “gray infrastructure” projects such as waste water treatment plants, even though conservation of forested watersheds via easements or other means are eligible uses for up to 20% of these funds. This project seeks to identify states where State Revolving Funds are most likely to be secured for watershed protection and submit proposals. If successful, this “proof of concept” approach could make significant new funding available for watershed conservation projects. Additional funding is provided by the Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation, the Gates Family Foundation, and the USDA Forest Service.
The Endowment engaged The Trust for Public Land for a two-phased approach to this issue.
Phase I focused on: reviewing State Clean Water State Revolving Fund activity for land conservation in eight states with a record of making such loans; identifying critical large-scale forest holdings important for water quality in these states; identifying potential borrowers and an assessment of implementation potential, and; building awareness of the potential and opportunity within these states.
Phase II focuses on a “deep dive” in four states (Washington, Oregon, California (northern) and Colorado) to advance plans to source water funding through the State Revolving Funds. This project includes research on the Clean Water State Revolving Fund in Colorado and Oregon, and on the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund in all four states. Priority forested watersheds would be prioritized, partners identified, and proposals submitted. The Trust for Public Land will also work on loan repayment models, such as could be supported via payments for watershed services.