Unanimous support for establishment of WaterWorks Grant Program
StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council unanimously adopted at its April 27 meeting an ordinance establishing criteria for awarding approximately $1 million annually in funds for water quality improvement projects, including activities and programs that may be proposed by entities applying for WaterWorks grants.
“I am very pleased to see this grant program reinstated as an important means of leveraging public funding to maximize effectiveness of community projects that improve water quality and protect County waterways outside of King County’s traditional wastewater treatment system,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips. “Fostering this community ownership and stewardship not only ensures long-term protection of our valuable water resources, but also helps develop lasting partnerships between our wastewater utility and water quality organizations.”
When adopted by the County in 1998, the Regional Wastewater Services Plan (RWSP) included a financial policy that specified the allowable use of up to one and one-half percent of the of annual Wastewater Treatment Division’s operating budget for the purpose of “water quality improvement activities, programs and projects,” and for many years this funding was made available to eligible projects through a grant program. A court case temporarily suspended the use of these funds until a ruling was made in the case.
With the resolution of the court case, and new criteria and an administrative process established, King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) will soon be again soliciting applications for the grant funds.
WTD worked with the Metropolitan Pollution Abatement Advisory Committee (MWPAAC)—a panel that advises the King County Council and Executive on matters related to water pollution abatement —to gather input and suggestions regarding “criteria and limitations” for funding of water quality improvement activities, programs and projects.
The adopted legislation incorporated recommendations from MWPAAC’s representatives regarding the project criteria, eligibility, project selection process and administration of grants. Those criteria include:
• Creating a benefit to or improvement of water quality within WTD’s service area and benefit its ratepayers; and
• Demonstrating that water quality benefits are related to the WTD’s regional water quality responsibilities.
Those who would be eligible for the grants include:
• Non-Profit groups (including but not limited to associations, community groups, and educational institutions)
• Cities, counties, and special purpose districts
Others (such as a private business) would be required to partner with an eligible entity.
Projects will be solicited annually, with a ‘Grant Ranking’ committee reviewing and making its recommendations to the Executive regarding projects and the amount of grant funding. The committee will base its recommendations on the criteria and also the strength of the application and applicant.
The committee’s recommendations will be transmitted to the County Executive, who will review and send to the Council an ordinance to approve the grant funding allocation for each project.