Collaboration Toolkit

« Back to the Main Stages of Collaboration

Secure Sustainable Funding

  • Create a dedicated funding program

States may create funds specifically designed to target source water quality.


  • Missouri created a “Water Resource Protection Fund” linked to their Our Missouri Waters Initiative. The fund helps local nonprofits and agencies improve water quality.
  • Maine created a similar dedicated funding program.
  • Re-orient existing funding programs

States may redefine funding programs to expand coverage over source water protection areas.


  • New Hampshire may increase funding for SWP by expanding eligibility for the Water Supply Land Protection Grant Program.
  • Missouri targets portions of its state Soil and Water Conservation Cost Share Program toward preventing water quality degradation.
  • Maine expanded its Current Use Tax Program to include landscapes that impact source waters.
  • Advocate for SWP ballots.

In 2012, voters passed 81% of local measures for land conservation through bonds or tax increases, raising an estimated $767 million. Many of these measures were designed to protect drinking water through conservation. Conservation nonprofits like the Trust for Public Land can help your community pass conservation ballots. Ballot measures include:

  • State tax pricing mechanisms. Some municipalities have voted for property or sales tax increases to feed into a bond for conservation.


  • The Trust for Public Land helped Austin, Texas pass a $20 million bond act to purchase Barton Creek Wilderness Park in order to protect Barton Creek’s critical springs.
  • San Antonio, Texas voters approved a 1/8-cent sales tax for land acquisition to protect the Edwards Aquifer.
  • In Gunnison County, Colorado, 80% of voters approved renewing a sales tax to provide almost $5 million to the county land conservation program.
  • For more examples of SWP and land conservation ballots across the nation, view.
  • Fees, e.g. real estate transfer fees, user fees, fees related to development, including payment-in-lieu programs. Local government fees may be channeled into funding for conservation, green infrastructure, and other practices. Utilities may recalibrate water rates to fund SWP programs.


The University of North Carolina has developed a calculator for Watershed Protection Investment. This calculator allows users to first input a utility rate, then use a “slider” tool to view the impact of a rate change on both:

  • the average customer’s monthly bill, and
  • the amount of money that a change may generate for a watershed fund or specific project.

The calculator can also estimate the impact of simultaneous changes to wastewater, storm water, and drinking water fees.

UNC Watershed Protection Investment calculator

How can I make the case for a ballot measure?

Several organizations offer a wealth of resources to help advocate for SWP ballots. Check out:

  • Use state set-aside funding
    Under the Safe Drinking Water Act Section 1452(k), states may use up to 15% of their Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) capitalization grants to fund source water protection activities. For example, states may use set-aside funding to implement wellhead protection programs (WPPs) or delineate and assess drinking water sources. States also may use 10% of their DWSRF allotments to provide technical assistance to source water protection programs, provided that the state provides a 1:1 match of the amounts expended. The match may be made through in kind services (e.g., staff time).

Click here for more details

  • States may use up to 15% of their capitalization grants to fund source water protection activities under §1452(k)(1)(A) and wellhead protection under §§1452(k)(1)(D). However, no more than 10% of a state’s grant may be used for activities under either one of those clauses.
    • For example, a state may use ≤ 10% in set-aside funding to implement wellhead protection programs (WHPPs) under §1452(k)(1)(D) in accordance with its duly adopted wellhead protection program under §1428.
  • Under §1452(g)(2)(B) states may also use 10% of their Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) allotments to provide technical assistance to source water protection programs if the state provides a 1:1 match of the amounts expended; the match may be made through in kind services, such as staff time.
    • States may use another 2% of their allotment to provide technical assistance to public water systems (PWSs) serving ≤ 10,000 people including for source water protection.

    For more information on these funding programs in your state, please see Safe Drinking Water Act sections 1452(k) and 1452(g), and contact your state DWSRF coordinator.

  • Brand and promote your collaborative “product”
    The collaborative could create a branded logo and develop marketing products. For example, local business owners might purchase a “friends of the watershed” sticker to display in their stores to demonstrate support for clean water. Marketing tools can help boost revenue streams from fundraising activities.
  • Check out funding innovations from environmental finance centers (EFCs) for more ideas

Many universities offer tools, information, and technical outreach to support SWP.

Click to download a PDF version of this page

Source Water Collaborative Logo

Sign Up For Email Alerts

Provide us with your email address and we'll notify you based on your preferences.