Cities and townships served by a municipal water supply system can receive grants up to $50,000 to reduce costs for residents, commercial properties, and government facilities that purchase and install replacement water-efficient products. Eligible purchases include toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, irrigation systems, and more.
The Metropolitan Council created the water efficiency grant program in 2015 to help growing communities reduce water consumption and future infrastructure costs. The number of grant applicants and recipients has grown steadily over time, as has funding through the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. As a result, the Met Council will allocate an unprecedented amount — up to $1 million — to eligible municipal water suppliers through June 30, 2024.
“This program has been highly successful in reducing water usage throughout the metropolitan area,” said Brian Davis, Met Council principal engineer. “We’ve estimated that the program has saved up to 450 million gallons of water since its inception. And that leads to significantly fewer expensive infrastructure projects for municipalities.”
Key criteria for grant eligibility
The water efficiency grant program is available to municipalities in the seven-county metro area that are served by a municipal water supply system. Grants are awarded to municipalities for providing rebates or grants to property owners who purchase products labeled by the federal-backed WaterSense or ENERGY STAR® programs.
Key criteria include:
- Applicants must be served by a municipal water supply system
- Replacement appliances only; new construction and developments are ineligible
- Portion of cost must be paid by the property owner
- Funds are for rebates and grants only; consulting and staff time are ineligible
- Grant recipients must display the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment logo and Metropolitan Council logo on program-related web pages and other communications
Allocation of water efficiency grant funding
The Met Council is expecting a significant increase in applicants to surpass the 38 participants enrolled in the last grant cycle. “We want to award as many municipalities as we can,” said Davis. “After all, even a small investment can lead to significant savings.”
If funds requested exceed funds available, the Met Council will award grant amounts based on several criteria, including:
- Municipalities with identified water issues in the regional Master Water Supply Plan Community Profiles or local water supply plans
- Ratio difference between peak monthly water usage and winter monthly water use
- Average residential per capita water usage
- Order of applications received
Municipalities design their own rebate or grant program
Municipalities are responsible for the design and operation of their rebate or grant program and its details. Met Council grant funds will cover 80% of program costs, with a required 20% local government match. This is the highest Met Council investment percentage in the program’s history. Residents, however, must pay a portion of the cost of any device or water use audit they purchase.
Grants will be awarded to municipalities only. But cities and townships can collaborate with a county or watershed district to more effectively manage grant reporting tasks and activities.
“Our communities have been through a lot in the past couple of years,” said Davis. “We’ve listened and we’re empathic to their needs and concerns. That’s why we’re offering a greater percentage of grant funding, knowing that it will directly help a greater number of residents in the region.”
How to apply
Met Council will begin taking water efficiency grant program applications from eligible cities and townships on January 31, 2022. The deadline for application is March 31. Municipalities will be notified of grant awards by April 29, 2022.