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Surface Water Grants

Grants to Wisconsin Agencies, Tribes, IHEs, Nonprofits,
School Districts, and Organizations to Protect Natural Resources

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

11/01/21 11:59 PM or postmarked by date


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Grants to Wisconsin government agencies, tribal governments, IHEs, and eligible nonprofits, school districts, and organizations to protect natural resources. Some applicants are required to submit a preliminary application prior to submitting a full proposal. The purpose of this program is to support surface water protection and restoration. Funding is available for education, ecological assessments, planning, implementation, and aquatic invasive species prevention and control. With many different projects eligible for grant funding, surface water management can be supported at any stage from organization capacity development to project implementation.

Funds can be used for a wide variety of projects related to surface water, under one of two general categories:

  1. Education and Planning projects help communities understand surface water conditions, determine management goals, and develop strategic management plans
  2. Management projects protect and improve water quality and aquatic habitat and prevent and control aquatic invasive species (AIS). Some projects require an approved recommendation in a management plan to be eligible for funding.

For more details on the different kinds of projects the Surface Water Grant Program supports, see Grant Project Types at

For eligible costs, see

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 146948

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Automatically eligible (no organizational eligibility application required):
- Counties
- Natural resource agencies
- Municipalities
- Tribal governing bodies
- Other local units of government
- Accredited colleges, universities, technical schools
- Inland lake protection and rehabilitation districts
- Town sanitary districts

Must apply to be an eligible organization (refer to Appendix K for qualifications):
- Qualified lake associations
- Qualified surface water management organizations
- Qualified river management organizations
- Nonprofit conservation organizations
- Qualified school districts

For more information, see Appendix K: Organizational Eligibility:

Counties, municipalities, natural resource agencies, tribal governing bodies, other local units of government, accredited colleges, universities, technical schools, lake districts, and town sanitary districts are automatically eligible to apply for a Surface Water Grant.

Qualified lake associations, qualified surface water management organizations, qualified river management organizations, nonprofit conservation organizations, and qualified school districts must apply for eligibility before applying for a surface water grant. Under NR 193 code, nonprofit organizations will need to reapply as Surface Water Management Organizations before receiving a grant.

For ineligible costs, see

Pre-Application Information:

Eligibility Application: By May 1 of each year, the applicant should establish their eligibility for grant funding by submitting Grant Eligibility Application Form 8700-380 (See Supporting Documents below) and supporting documentation to their regional environmental grant specialist. The environmental grant specialist has the right to review an organization’s eligibility at any time, and it is best to confirm your eligibility before you apply for a grant.

If you are thinking about applying for a grant, contact your local lake, streams or AIS biologist as early as possible.

Every applicant must submit a project pre-proposal to their regional biologist and environmental grants specialist by September 2. Your local biologist will review your pre-application; you may be required to attend a pre-application scoping meeting prior to the final application deadline on November 1.

All emailed grant applications must be sent to the department by 11:59:59 p.m. on November 1. Mailed applications must be postmarked by November 1. If an application is received after the deadline, the application will be deemed ineligible and will not be considered for funding. If November 1 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the deadline will fall on the following Monday. (Exception: AIS early detection and response grant applications are accepted year-round).

Grant Cycle Timeline:
- May 1: Deadline: Confirm organization’s eligibility to apply by contacting your local environmental grants specialist
- June 1: Updated guidance and forms are published on the Surface Water Grant webpage
- June - September: Identify project goals and objectives, define activities and methods, and develop a budget
- September 2: Deadline: Submit your pre-proposal to your local biologist. Your biologist will then determine whether a pre-application meeting is required.
- September - October: Meet with your biologists, complete application and attain all supporting documentation (e.g. Authorizing resolution, project maps, lab forms, etc.)
- November 1: Grant application deadline
- February 15 (approximate): Grant awards announced
- March 15: Start of grant period

If you are a returning Clean Boats, Clean Waters or Healthy Lakes & Rivers, or Lake Monitoring & Protection Network applicant, you are not required to submit a pre-proposal.

Most grants are required by state statute to be cost-shared, that is, grantees must contribute a percentage of the project’s total costs. The portion paid by the grantee is called grantee match, while the department’s contribution is called the DNR cost share. All planning grants provide a 67% cost share, while all management grants are shared at a rate of 75%. For more information, see

Claims for payment of project expenditures are made on a reimbursement basis.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

The preferred method of application submittal is via email to

If you are not able to submit an application by email, you may send the application to:
DNR Surface Water Grants – WY/3
101 S. Webster St., PO Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707-7921

If you would like to confirm your organization’s eligibility for grant funding, contact your regional environmental grant specialist (see Supporting Documents below).

For technical assistance in developing a project, contact your regional Lake, Streams or AIS biologist (see Supporting Documents below).

For information on the surface water grant program, email:
-, or
- Laura MacFarland, grant financial coordinator at
- Alison Mikulyuk, lakes and rivers grant coordinator at

For general information on DNR grant programs, contact CFA Bureau staff:

Grant Coverage Areas:

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Wisconsin

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