TDEC Opens Competitive Grant Applications for Water Infrastructure

Tuesday, May 09, 2023 | 12:24pm

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) today announced that the application process is open for competitive grants from the state’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) fund, part of which TDEC is administering for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure grants.

Tennessee received $3.725 billion from the ARP, and the state’s Financial Stimulus Accountability Group dedicated $1.35 billion of those funds to TDEC to support water infrastructure projects. Of the $1.35 billion, an approximate pool of $1 billion was designated for non-competitive formula-based grants. The non-competitive grant applications were opened last year for cities and counties to apply for ARP funds. The non-competitive grants were structured to address critical needs in drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure systems. 

A separate pool of $200 million of ARP funds was set aside for the competitive grant program, which has three different types of grants – regionalization ($100 million), water reuse ($50 million), and resource protection ($50 million). These focus areas are described in TDEC’s Water Infrastructure Investment Plan as strategic opportunities for investment.

  • Regionalization refers to projects that connect infrastructure to improve services and optimize capacity. The regionalization grant manual with details regarding eligibility, timeline, and available funding can be found at this link.
  • Water reuse involves projects that capture water that would otherwise be discarded, treat it, and reuse it for beneficial purposes. The water reuse grant manual with details regarding eligibility, timeline, and available funding can be found at this link.
  • Resource protection refers to projects that improve water infrastructure resilience to extreme weather, improve stormwater management or water quality, and/or restore natural landscapes. The resource protection grant manual with details regarding eligibility, timeline, and available funding can be found at this link.

“We are pleased the competitive phase of the process is opening and we look forward to the submissions of the applicants,” TDEC Commissioner David Salyers said.  “While the needs still exceed what can be addressed in this plan, we look forward to the results these funds will bring.”

Eligible applicants include cities, counties, water utility districts, water utility authorities, for-profit water infrastructure systems in partnership with another eligible entity, and 501c(3) nonprofits for resource protection. As a competitive grant, applicants should ensure their projects are eligible activities under ARP and align with the intent of the grant program.

Entities may submit applications until Aug. 8, 2023. TDEC will review, evaluate, recommend, and announce grant awards within approximately 60 days of the application period closing. TDEC will execute contracts within approximately 120 days of the recommendations. Grant applicants should anticipate project management discussions with TDEC during the process.

Funds from the ARP must be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024, and expended by Dec. 31, 2026.

Those interested in submitting formal applications should visit the TDEC Online Grants Management System. Users will need to register and login, then search for ARP competitive water infrastructure grants.

TDEC’s overall strategy for deploying ARP funds is described in the Water Infrastructure Investment Plan. TDEC developed this plan based on input from leaders and experts from agencies internal and external to state government, and the public.