Funding for water and PFAS projects: Three strategies for navigating opportunities and securing the dollars you need

Finding funding for water infrastructure projects and PFAS remediation can be daunting. Federal, state, and local governments have been providing funding for water infrastructure projects since the beginning of the last century, but federal government funding declined in the 1970s and ‘80s, after most major water infrastructure projects were completed. 

As our water infrastructure continues to age and additional challenges such as water scarcity, climate change, and new contaminants emerge, the need for both public and private funds to address the many challenges we face in water and wastewater continues to grow. For example, a 2021 analysis from global strategy and management consulting firm McKinsey & Company suggests that new PFAS regulatory requirements could lead to a threefold increase in PFAS-related annual capital spending between 2021 and 2025.

Regulation from the federal government to improve water safety is driving investment in our aging infrastructure, and it’s driving investment in new technologies to address contaminants such as PFAS. The recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) has provided a fresh increase in funding for water infrastructure projects. The total investment amounts to around a 5% increase, which is good - though not nearly enough to close the $40 billion gap between investment needed and funding available that McKinsey & Company reported in 2020. That said, there’s been a 40-year funding drought, broken by this increase. And since more new funding opportunities like this are not guaranteed, now is the best time to pursue and take advantage of it.

Here are three key strategies for how to go about making the most of available funding streams for water and PFAS or other emerging contaminant removal now and in the future.

Find the funding that is the best fit for your projects

It’s no secret that a lot of effort goes into funding proposals. If you’re putting that effort in, you want to have a high degree of confidence that your effort is going to pay off. To that end, look for funding programs that match your project aims and goals. Consider the history of the program and how they fund water projects. Find and pursue only those funding opportunities that are the best fit for your projects.

Actively search for new opportunities and consider state and local as well as federal opportunities

It’s fine to keep an eye on longstanding programs that you’re already familiar with, perhaps because you received funding from them. But only focusing on what you’re already familiar with can lead to lost opportunities. New programs are being created for particular purposes, like PFAS treatment and removal. Actively searching for new funding programs and longstanding funding programs that are new to you widens your possibilities and chances.

Good, proactive program searching requires looking at state, local, and federal opportunities. Seek to leverage different types of funding to cover as much of the planning and project costs as possible.

Plan into the future

Look ahead. Which future projects can you position yourself for now? Seek funding for the planning of those projects, so that when the time for those projects arrives, they’re easier to implement.

How Garver can help

As someone who worked for the Bureau of Reclamation for over 20 years, I am one of a number of Garver funding experts who can help translate and speak the language of grants. This means we can make the search process easier and more promising, and we can identify funding opportunities for PFAS that do not explicitly name PFAS as one of their funding purposes. 

Garver funding experts also have extensive experience identifying various federal, state, and local government funding opportunities for water projects and specifically for PFAS. In 2023, we partnered with our clients to pursue $101 million in grant funding through various programs, successfully funding planning, design, and construction.  

We work with utilities to meet their PFAS needs, creating a unique funding strategy that works for them. We assist them throughout the application process, from identifying the right programs and ensuring that eligibility and all requirements are met, to submitting a complete application and assisting with the implementation of awarded funding as needed.  

To learn more about funding for water and PFAS projects, contact Garver Water below. 

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