The plan is to stop flushing money down the toilet.
In a widespread initiative to improve water efficiency, the Metropolitan Council has designated nearly $1 million to 37 cities and townships served by a municipal water supply system, who in turn, will offer rebates or grants to residents to purchase replacement water-efficient toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, irrigation controllers, and more.
The grant awards range from $6,080 to $49,000. Every award requires a matching amount, with 80% coming from the Met Council and 20% coming from the municipality. Residents must also pay a portion of the cost of any device or water use audit they purchase.
“We made certain that every municipal applicant received a grant,” said Brian Davis, Met Council principal engineer. “After all, sustained water efficiency requires a collective effort throughout the region. We expect the program will help communities save hundreds of millions of gallons of water in the next couple of years, which will help reduce the need for more water towers, water supply wells, and other expensive infrastructure.”
Saving water can save money
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average U.S. family spends more than $1,000 for water annually, but can save more than $380 each year by installing WaterSense-labelled fixtures and ENERGY STAR® certified appliances.
Scoring criteria used to allocate grant awards
Each municipality applied for up to $50,000 in grant funding earlier this year. With fund requests exceeding available funding, however, the Met Council used a comprehensive scoring system to determine allocation amounts. Municipalities were given a score between 1 and 37 for each of four criteria:
- Municipalities with identified water issues in the regional Master Water Supply Plan Community Profiles or local water supply plans
- Ratio of peak monthly water usage to winter monthly water use
- Average residential per capita water use
- Order of applications received
Rosemount received the highest score with 123 points out of a possible 148, followed closely by the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission, Farmington, Bayport, and others.
The Met Council reduced some request amounts with a formula based largely on a score percentage of the total possible number of points. Municipalities with grant requests of $10,000 or less received the full amount.
Sustained growth for a successful program
The Met Council created the water efficiency grant program in 2015 — backed by funding through the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment — to help communities reduce water consumption and future infrastructure costs.
“This is the third allocation cycle for the popular program,” said Davis. “We had 32 returning applicants, along with newcomers Stillwater, Coon Rapids, Lino Lakes, Maple Grove, and Circle Pines. With an unprecedented $1 million of grants available to share, we were able to grant many municipalities more funding than they had received in previous cycles.”
Distribution of awards, initiation of programs underway
Grant recipients have been notified of their awards. Each municipality will receive a formal award letter with key grant details, including timelines, requirements, and next steps by May 13. Municipalities are responsible for the design and operation of their own rebate or grant program and its details, although only new products labeled by the federal-backed WaterSense or ENERGY STAR® programs are eligible.
Grant awards will be distributed in early July to these communities:
- Apple Valley – $35,000
- Bayport – $8,000
- Bloomington – $25,000
- Chanhassen – $34,440
- Circle Pines – $9,600
- Coon Rapids – $26,000
- Cottage Grove – $43,000
- Eagan – $42,000
- Eden Prairie – $44,000
- Farmington – $11,000
- Forest Lake – $26,000
- Fridley – $10,000
- Hugo – $36,000
- Lake Elmo – $43,000
- Lakeville – $43,000
- Lino Lakes – $24,000
- Maple Grove – $45,000
- Minnetonka – $22,000
- New Brighton – $28,000
- North St. Paul – $22,000
- Plymouth – $35,000
- Prior Lake – $9,600
- Ramsey – $19,800
- Robbinsdale – $6,080
- Rosemount – $34,000
- Roseville – $12,000
- Savage – $30,000
- Shakopee PUC – $49,000
- Shoreview – $16,000
- Shorewood – $8,400
- St. Louis Park – $25,000
- Stillwater – $25,000
- Victoria – $39,000
- White Bear Lake – $23,000
- White Bear Township – $38,000
- Woodbury – $40,000