Blog  /  March 2017  /  When the Money Runs Out: Top 5 Funding Alternatives

Blog Post Teaser

A water main breaks, a pipe bursts, or it just will not stop raining. With every event, the strain on utility and municipal budgets gets worse, and what do you do about the buried infrastructure that is years beyond its intended useful life that you simply have no capacity to address? When bonding is no longer an option, and you have done all you can with your state revolving fund, here is how to be a hero to your colleagues, consumers, and citizens by finding other ways to pay for the work:

Foundations and Non-Profits

With water issues increasingly in the news, those with the capacity to help are paying attention. Watersheds suffering from the effects of harmful algal blooms, children permanently impacted by drinking lead-laced water, and dam failures threatening the homes of hundreds of thousands highlight the issues that are getting attention and raising awareness among the general public of the water-related problems we face.

However, your community’s issues do not need to rise to the level of a national story to get attention from people looking to make a difference. If you are trying to deal with a stormwater issue, you can find funding related to remediating non-point source pollution. If you are operating within a sensitive watershed, you can find funding for preservation of that resource that enables you deal with some of your decaying infrastructure. If you have a water quality concern that needs to be addressed, there are numerous funders who want to help. Foundations and non-profits are bringing new resources online to tackle these problems and are looking for applicants to take advantage of them.

Solution Providers with Funding Mechanisms

Water industry professionals are amazing people who come up with technology that can solve virtually any problem. However, when your prospective customers recognize that they need you but cannot afford you, that used to be the end of the conversation. Now, it does not have to be. Forward-thinking companies are starting to equip themselves with the resources and relationships that enable them to provide financing for their services directly to their clients.

One company leading the way in this area is Sprayroq, Inc. Sprayroq provides structural protective lining systems for water and wastewater infrastructure. Their product helps enable customers to avoid costly pipe replacement. However, they go a step further by partnering with Signet Capital. Signet provides turnkey development, finance, and management service with a wide range of experience delivering creative solutions for joint venture developments and public-private partnerships (P3).

Signet’s involvement allows communities and utilities to bundle together multiple years of projects to be completed at today's rates, providing cost savings and peace of mind when it comes to restoring critical infrastructure. It also helps to avoid the risk of a catastrophic infrastructure failure that comes with continuing delays.

When looking to get work done, it pays to work with solution providers who understand the stress you are under and have created mechanisms to help you overcome them.

Cost Shares

Recognizing that accomplishing certain goals can be dependent on both funding and local buy-in, some funders offer cost shares. The expectation is that, by offering a percentage of the funding, they can spur action. However, improvements often only survive if there is someone locally to maintain them. That is one reason why local investment is a component of these opportunities. It is also a way to enable the available funding to have a greater impact by being spread over more places.

One example relates to utilizing green infrastructure to mitigate stormwater problems. The Virginia Conservation Assistance Program provides matches typically up to 75% of the program cost for installing items like rain gardens, permeable pavement, and green roofs. In this example, the local community benefits by having less demand on their stormwater infrastructure, individual citizens benefit by enjoying a greener environment, and the program achieves its objectives over a wider range of potential beneficiaries than if they simply offered grants that covered the full cost of each initiative.

Cooperative Agreements

There are groups with big objectives but tiny internal infrastructure. To achieve their goals, they will rely on cooperative agreements that provide funding for the recipient if they take certain actions.

One example that is typical of how these agreements take shape is an opportunity provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. One of their priorities is coastal habitat conservation and restoration. To that end, they offer funding to local communities to clean up hazardous waste that could impact a coastal environment.

The local community may never have thought of their problem as having an impact on a coastal environment. They may have simply had a complicated health & safety issue to overcome, but their unique geography made them fit within the priorities of a federal agency who could provide the funding to help. Thinking of your problem creatively, and attempting to identify how it fits within another entity’s priorities, can often make all the difference in finding a source who will fund your solution.

Pilot Projects

Communities with tight budgets often are a good match with new technology companies. New technology companies need pilot projects to prove that what they have developed works in real world situations. Without a record of success, these companies will not have an easy time picking up new customers or getting regulatory approval where necessary.

If they are able to find a utility or municipality willing to serve as a pilot location, they will often be able to provide their solution at a steep discount, or occasionally at no cost at all.

Conclusion

It is almost a rule that communities have less money than they need to do the work they must do. Overcoming budget obstacles to better serve your citizens or consumers is increasingly difficult, but essential. The good news is that there are resources available if you know where to look. The funding solution that solves your problems might be just a click away.