Funding Resources for Water Harvesting Systems

Clients often ask us about resources for funding our harvesting systems for their projects. While conserving water through the use of harvesting systems is a great idea, the reality of installing large commercial systems can be costly. We’re happy to report that we are beginning to see some options out there that can help defray some – or all of the costs for a system. We see three good sources for funding: 1) grants, 2) loan programs and 3) stormwater fee discounts.

The first incentive, grants, has not been a common funding tool in the past. However, grants are becoming more available as the importance of water conservation is growing. Grants can be offered through government programs such as the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s Urban Watershed Stewardship Grant. The city of San Francisco recognized that in providing assistance, they were helping with the city’s overall stormwater management. New York’s Green Infrastructure Grant Program also helps to abate stormwater issues by providing funding to property owners, businesses and non-profits for rainwater harvesting, green roofs, rain gardens and bioswales. Grants can also be found through local community groups and private sources.

Loans are also available for many sustainability projects, including water harvesting, through a variety of sources. One source is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Water State Revolving Fund. This program provides loans for both large and small projects and while it has not traditionally been used for water harvesting, the number of green infrastructure projects is increasing. It is important to note that the EPA limits use to capital costs such as cisterns. Visit the EPA’s web site for more information on how to manage stormwater with green infrastructure.

Finally, when looking for financial incentives to install a water harvesting system, it can be beneficial to investigate if discounts are available for municipal stormwater fees. For example, the city of Portland, Oregon has the “Clean River Rewards” program. Customers who actively manage their stormwater runoff using methods such as rainwater harvesting, are eligible for a discount of up to 100% on their municipal stormwater charges. Similar to the theory behind the New York and San Francisco grants, the discounts encourage stormwater management by the property owners and lessen the impact on the community’s storm system.

Investing in a water harvesting system may seem expensive, but there are funding options available. It’s also important to remember that these systems have the potential to save hundreds of thousands of gallons of municipal water each year, saving real dollars of operating costs for the life of a building. And the USGBC has determined that a LEED certified building, with its lower operating costs and “green” credentials, can demand a market price of about 15% more than a similar non-LEED building, so the investment is worthwhile for the property owner and the environment. For more information on funding resources and other sustainability topics, visit the Wahaso web site.

Kim Seay

Wahaso Marketing Manager