Council offers water efficiency grants to municipal water suppliers

Date: Friday, July 19, 2019

The Metropolitan Council is offering grants of up to $50,000 to municipal water suppliers to help increase water efficiency in their communities. Grants can be used for rebates to residents and commercial properties that replace inefficient water-using devices with approved devices that use substantially less water, or for irrigation system audits.

$500,000 in previous grants saved 52 million gallons annually and replaced 4,510 devices.“In some cities, future population growth can be accommodated with fewer new groundwater wells, just by being more efficient with the wells we already have,” explained Brian Davis, senior engineer at the Council. “This can result in savings for the utility, as well as savings for their customers.”

A total of $750,000 will be available for spending through June 2022. The 2019 Minnesota Legislature designated the monies from the Clean Water Fund of the Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

“Conservation is the first step we should take to ensure we have sustainable water supplies for future generations,” said Council Member Peter Lindstrom. “And because groundwater crosses municipal boundaries, this partnership benefits the entire region.” 

Local governments responsible for designing rebate/grant program

Grants will range from $2,000 to $50,000 to municipalities to lower the cost for residents and commercial properties to purchase and install products that reduce water use, such as toilets, washing machines, irrigation spray sprinkler bodies, and irrigation controllers. The products must be labelled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program or, in the case of washing machines, by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star program.

Funds can be used only for appliance replacement, not for first-time purchases for new developments. 

An irrigation controller with its cover open.Municipalities will be responsible for the design and operation of their rebate or grant program and its details. Council grant funds will cover 75% of program costs, with a required 25% local match. Residents must pay a portion of the cost of any appliance or water use audit they purchase.

We will accept applications through Sept. 30, 2019. Required application information includes:

  • Rebate or grant program design and work plan

  • Proposed examples of communications to property owners

  • Requested total grant amount

  • Estimated annual amount of water saved by the applying municipality

Details about the program and the grant application

If funds requested exceed funds available, these criteria will be used to determine grants amounts:

  • Municipalities that rely exclusively on groundwater

  • Municipalities with identified water issues in the regional Master Water Supply Plan or their local water plan

  • Municipalities’ ratio of peak monthly water use to winter monthly water use

  • Municipalities’ average residential per capita use

  • The order in which applications are received and until grant funds are fully committed.

Earlier program resulted in big water savings

The Council administered a water efficiency grant program during the 2015-17 biennium using $500,000 from the Clean Water Fund. That program yielded an estimated total savings of 52 million gallons of water per year.

  • 4,514 devices were replaced, including 2,380 toilets, 1,190 irrigation controllers, 940 clothes washers, and 4 irrigation system audits.

  • Annual water savings included 29.8 million gallons from toilets; 18 million gallons from irrigation controllers; 4.2 million gallons from clothes washers; and 59 thousand gallons from irrigation system audits.

Nineteen communities participated in the earlier program.

Posted In: Wastewater & Water