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2019-21 Floodplains by Design (FbD) Grants

Grants to Washington Nonprofits and
Agencies to Improve Floodplain Management

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Washington Department of Ecology

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Grants to Washington nonprofit organizations, government agencies, tribes, conservation districts, municipal and quasi-municipal corporations, and special purpose districts to improve floodplain management. Pre-proposals are due February 16. Eligible projects reduce flood hazard and help restore ecosystems.

Program Overview:

Floodplains by Design (FbD) is a partnership of local, state, federal and private organizations focused on coordinating investment in and strengthening the integrated management of floodplain areas throughout Washington State. Floodplains are vital to the ecological health of the state. They are critical to the economic vitality, cultural heritage and quality of life provided by the region—from salmon to farmland and commercial development, and recreational opportunities.

The Washington State Department of Ecology’s (Ecology) Floods and Floodplain Management Division administers the Floodplains by Design grant program under a biennial funding cycle. Ecology awards grants on a competitive basis to eligible entities for collaborative and innovative projects throughout Washington State that support the integration of flood hazard reduction with ecological preservation and restoration. Proposed projects may also address other community needs, such as preservation of agriculture, improvements in water quality, or increased recreational opportunities provided they are part of a larger strategy to restore ecological functions and reduce flood hazards. This document describes the intent of the program, and how to apply for funding, meet program requirements, and manage funded projects.

Grant Program Intent:

Washington rivers and their floodplains and estuaries deliver a wealth of economic, natural and cultural benefits to the state’s communities. Yet floodplain management has not kept pace with growing communities. People are living in the path of flood waters; water quality is on the decline; and habitat critical to restoring salmon populations is disappearing.

In the past, floodplain management was often provided by numerous entities, each with a narrow focus and sometime at odds with the focus of others. Rather than maximizing the goods and services derived from floodplains, this “silo” approach to floodplain management led to unintended consequences, inefficiency and conflict.

The FbD grant program seeks to advance integrated floodplain management strategies and projects that consider a broader variety of ecological functions, values, and benefits to the affected human communities. Projects can have a higher likelihood of success when they improve ecological function, reduce flood risk and meet other community needs because they are more likely to garner the necessary community support and public funding.

Characteristics of FbD Projects:

Ideal projects are part of a strategy designed to holistically manage the floodplain within a watershed or specific reach of a river. The strategy must identify means to reduce flood risk to affected communities, restore ecological function, support community and environmental resiliency to future climate impacts, and provide additional community benefits. In areas where agriculture is a dominant land use projects must minimize negative impacts to agriculture and identify strategies to support local agricultural interests. Projects should be part of a watershed or a reach-strategy that connect rivers with their floodplains, giving floodwater room to spread out and allowing room for the dynamic processes that form critical habitats to be restored. A river reach is a user-defined section of river that contains a unifying geomorphic, land-use, infrastructure or other characteristics. A watershed or reach strategy is generally based on a technical assessment of the river or reach, and a robust stakeholder process that results in agreement on objectives and a set of integrated actions. A project on an individual site can in itself contain all the required benefits for flood risk reduction, ecological function and community interests, or it can be one or more component(s) of a coherent larger strategy that collectively achieve all the benefits. If it is the latter, the project proponent must demonstrate how the project fits into a larger strategy that has broad support of the affected communities. Proposals that advance projects that are part of a watershed-scale strategy will be ranked higher than reach-scale or site-scale work, respectively. Additionally, any Floodplains by Design projects, regardless of scale, are expected to adhere to a 2 to 3 year timeline.

The focus of the Floodplains by Design program are the major rivers and their estuaries in your watershed. Major rivers and estuaries are where the most extensive flood risks exist, where the greatest ecological restoration opportunities reside, and where much of the best agricultural soils are located. Projects on large river systems are more likely to receive funding than projects on small river systems or creeks. The following table outlines measures for key outcomes of FbD projects.

Reduce Flood Risk and Damage:

Floodplains by Design projects must reduce flood risk to communities or be part of a strategy that reduces flood risk. A Floodplains by Design project must reduce flood risk on both a short- term and long-term basis. Many existing flooding problems are anticipated to increase in the near future due to climate change and development pressures from a growing population. FbD projects must develop solutions that address existing flood risk and also consider the effects of projected changes to river flows, sea level rise, sediment delivery and other factors that could increase flood risk in the future.

One approach to lasting solutions is to move people and infrastructure away from the river, remove impediments to flow, and provide more floodplain area for floodwater conveyance and storage. Flood risk reduction measures should not encourage new land development that increases potential future flood risk. It is important to note that projects that address flooding due solely to drainage problems do not meet the flood risk reduction intent of FbD. Drainage is discussed further in the agriculture section below.

Floodplains by Design can support redevelopment and improved flood resiliency in historically established and substantially built-out urban areas. However, all projects should consider whether moving people and infrastructure away from the river is feasible. Except in situations where a community has no other options for meeting appropriate growth targets, projects that induce additional urban development and impervious surface within floodplains will not score well.

The flood risk reduction component of the FbD project should include a quantified demonstration of improved flood safety for an area and a demonstration of no adverse impact (that the project will not worsen flood damage anywhere else). Additionally, flood risk reduction measures should not create adverse ecological impacts. Feasibility and design projects should include appropriate analysis of anticipated changes to flood risk in the scope of work so that these outcomes are understood prior to advancing to the next project phase. Construction project proposals should be able to quantify flood risk reduction that will result from the proposed actions.

Ecological Restoration and/or Preservation:

Floodplains by Design projects must have a significant ecological restoration component or be part of a watershed or reach strategy that will significantly restore ecological function. The ecosystem restoration or preservation component of the FbD project should include a quantified description of restored ecosystem processes and functions, including benefits to salmon. A higher probability of long term ecological benefits will be provided by projects that maintain or re-establish natural processes and functions. Where it is not feasible to have the restoration in the same location of a flood risk reduction action, the restoration can occur in the same reach provided there is direct relationship. Ecological restoration measures should not increase the risk of flood damage to existing uses in the floodplain. A higher probability of long term ecological benefits will be provided by projects that maintain or re-establish natural processes and functions. Projects should also consider the effects of climate change and accommodate future anticipated changes to river flows, sea level rise, sediment delivery and other factors that affect ecosystem function and habitat formation (see Climate Change section below for more information).

Climate Change:

Floodplains by Design encourages integrated approaches that consider climate impacts on floodplain systems. Climate change is projected to alter floodplain hydrology, sedimentation and sea levels throughout Washington State and as such is a significant concern for all aspects of floodplain management. The extent and frequency of flooding is projected to increase in the future, resulting in higher flood risks to human communities and further impacts to salmon populations. Projected low summer flows may cause warmer water temperatures that exceed the thermal threshold for salmon, and is an important concern for potentially limiting water availability for farms. Increases in sea levels will increase the risk to coastal areas from storm surges and inundation, and could impact drainage of coastal agricultural lands. Projected shifts in temperature and precipitation regimes are likely to compound existing stressors on floodplain habitats and salmon populations. Strong FbD proposals and project designs should consider the effects of climate change and address future changes to hydrology, sediment delivery, sea level rise, and other factors that affect floodplain systems.

Strong FbD proposals will:

1. Identify critical impacts of climate change specific to the project area or stakeholder interests. Many regions have completed vulnerability assessments or climate action plans that identify these key risks. In regions where these plans have not been completed, projects proponents can use the available regional data to make their best assessment of key impacts in their watershed.

2. Incorporate projections into project modeling and design plans so that there is confidence
that projects will continue to meet flood and ecosystem goals into the future.

To improve consideration of climate impacts in FbD proposals, an unscored climate change section is included in the grant application. This information will be used to determine the robustness and durability of proposed actions as related to flood, ecosystem and agriculture outcomes, so will be considered as part of the flood and ecosystem scoring. Proposals that discuss the specific effects of climate change in the project or planning area, and describe how this information was used in project selection and design will result in more points than general regional concepts of climate change.

Answers may be brief but should include:
-Citations of existing research / reports that are relevant to the project area.
-Consideration of impacts observed during historical events that can serve as an analog for future conditions (e.g., recent large flooding events, warming events/trends, etc.)
-Description of how climate change predictions were incorporated into or used during project site selection or design.
-Where possible, models/projections of future floodplain or nearshore inundation/risk.
-Description of confidence in flood, ecosystem and farm outcomes and for how long into the future.

Tribal Support and Engagement:

Where Floodplains by Design projects are proposed in areas that will affect Tribal lands, Tribal interests and any potential impacts to treaty rights and treaty secured resources must be considered. Applicants must work to coordinate and seek the support of local Tribal interests in their region and any actions proposed should not be in conflict with the local Tribe’s resource (salmon/shellfish) recovery plans or cultural resource concerns. Additionally, project proponents must consider whether their proposed actions could limit future floodplain restoration actions or prevent access to Tribal resources necessary to fulfill treaty rights.

Enhance Agriculture:

Where Floodplains by Design projects are proposed in agricultural areas, local agricultural interests must be engaged in project development as part of the project partnership so that their needs and concerns are addressed. The needs and concerns of a particular place and community, and means to address them, will vary by location, but might include improvements to drainage or irrigation infrastructure, or protection of farmland with easements.

Drainage is an important issue in maintaining agriculture in many floodplains. As described in the flood risk reduction section above, projects that address flooding caused solely by poor drainage are not considered flood risk reduction projects in the context of FbD. However, projects that include a drainage improvement element to benefit agriculture, in addition to a flood risk reduction component consistent with the FbD intent, can gain points in the agriculture category.

Cost Effective:

Strong FbD projects will also be cost effective. Cost effectiveness is demonstrated in project applications by having a clear and appropriate scope of work and budget, and by describing anticipated reductions in infrastructure maintenance and flood damage costs, the proportion of match that is being provided and the other fund sources leveraged by the project. The methods and personnel involved in developing the scope of work and budget should be described.

Other Community Needs:

Floodplains by Design projects may also include actions to address other community needs that are compatible with flood risk reduction and ecological restoration, including improved water quality, increased recreational opportunities, or other needs specific to a particular community. What these other benefits look like will depend on the needs of a particular community and actions the community determines are most appropriate to address their needs. Water quality improvements might include riparian planting, removing impervious surfaces, or reducing non- point pollution from homes or farms. Increased recreational access might include increased miles of trail, or additional boat ramps or fishing access points.


Integrated floodplain projects, by their nature, require that a variety of interests and organizations coordinate and collaborate to develop projects. Depending on the location, scope and affected interests of a particular project, proponents will develop partnerships with some or all of the following groups:

-Flood/Floodplain management entities
-Ecosystem restoration and salmon recovery organizations and interests (e.g., Lead Entities, Local Integrating Organizations, etc.)
-Agricultural interests and organizations
-Community recreation departments and organizations
-Local governments such as cities, towns and counties
-Economic development organizations
-Federal and state natural resources agencies

Financial partners – because there is a match requirement, all Floodplains by Design projects are financial partnerships. Past projects have included funding from federal or state grants such as the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, local flood control districts, counties or cities, and/or United States Army Corps of Engineers, among other sources.

It is critical that partnerships form early in the project development process. Proponents should identify the organizations and parties that may have an interest in the project and reach out to them early and often so that all interests are represented, needs and concerns are heard and addressed, and the resulting project is supported by all affected parties. There is no boiler plate list of groups for any project or even particular organizations for a given interest group. It is up to the local project sponsor to determine the organizations and interests that are relevant to a particular river reach or project. The application should include a narrative that describes the outreach that was done and specific involvement of interests related to the project. Ideally, project applicants will receive the written support of interested organizations and individuals.

Eligible project activities include:
-Pre-construction planning
-Design projects
-Land Acquisition/Land Conservation/Easement Purchase
-Project-specific outreach and education components
-Riparian/wetland restoration
-Pre- and post-construction assessment elements

Project Types:

For the 2019-21 State Fiscal Biennium the FbD grant program will be using two different categories of project types, with an eye towards funding some projects of each type. The first type is the original multi-benefit projects which advance a large, integrated body of work at a watershed, reach, or site scale to advance local floodplain management priorities. It also includes pre-construction and planning activities. The second type is for smaller projects which may be significant to a community but may not compete well with larger projects. It is intended to fund less costly smaller scale projects that address floodplain management priorities for a community, or act as pilot projects that catalyze broader, multi-benefit floodplain management. Project sponsors will be asked to identify which category they are applying for during the final application submittal process. The small project category is intended for pilot projects that help a community move towards a multi-benefit approach to floodplain management. For the 2019-21 funding round, Ecology and partners intend to mix small projects into the final ranked listings. Although small projects will be compared to one another for ranking purposes, there is no separate source of funding from the larger projects. Project sponsors of large projects should not submit small projects as well, but should include the smaller project in the larger project proposal and discuss how it relates and achieves a multi-benefit approach. The small project category is not intended to address storm water management issues, minor urban flooding, very small drainages, or areas with little or no ecosystem restoration value.

Eligible Project Types and Activities:

There are two categories of funding available; 1) projects which contain most or all elements of an FbD project within themselves, projects that are part of a reach strategy, or projects with pre- construction elements, and 2) projects that are small projects. Small projects may contain one or more of the project elements listed below.


Costs of preparing pre-construction documents, including reach studies and other area-specific assessments of floodplain conditions and needs; engineering reports; environmental review; and related work that lead to the identification of capital projects may be eligible for Floodplains by Design Program funding. Potential applicants are encouraged to check with your Regional FbD contact to ensure that your pre-construction project scope will be eligible.

Smaller Projects:

Small projects may contain some or all of the elements described below, but be less costly. This project type is intended to promote funding to communities that have identified multi-benefit opportunities that fit the program and are significant to the community but may not compete as well against larger projects. Small projects can be undertaken by any eligible entity. Communities that apply for this type of grant must coordinate with other potential flood plain related projects through a Comprehensive Flood Hazard Management Plan or other plan that incorporates a multi-benefit approach to flood hazard reduction. Project sponsors that are submitting large projects as well should not use this category, but include the smaller project in the overall proposal, and show how the smaller project fits into the broader multi-benefit plan for the floodplain. Examples of small projects include; 1) Purchase or easements on flood-prone properties and site restoration, 2) Removal of flood-prone structures and site restoration, 3) Removal or replacement of undersized bridges or culverts and site restoration, 4) Removal, setback, or modification of flood control structures and site restoration, 5) other actions that reduce community flood damage and restore natural floodplain functions. The small projects category is not intended to address storm water system problems, minor urban flooding, small drainages, or areas with little or no ecosystem restoration value.

Feasibility and Design Projects:

Floodplains by Design funds are allowable for both feasibility studies and design projects. Design project deliverables must be completed by an engineer licensed in the State of Washington. As a minimum deliverable preliminary designs of at least a 30% stage must be submitted by the completion of the grant agreement.

The recipient of a planning project must submit preliminary designs / design report to Ecology’s project manager prior to the final designs to ensure there are no adverse impacts to future restoration in priority habitats.


The recipient of a construction grant must ensure that the project complies with the approved (signed and sealed) plans and specifications prepared by an engineer licensed in the State of Washington. Competent and adequate construction management and inspections are required.

Projects that contain construction-only elements must be ready to start construction upon receipt of funding by FbD. That means acquisitions, design, permitting, etc. must be complete prior to award. A project that includes all elements, including acquisition, design, permitting and construction must present a schedule that completes the project in 2-3 years from funding award. The project may need to be “phased” into discrete, timely actions if construction would not occur for several years. In that case the pre-cursor activities e.g. design would be funded in one round, with construction applying for funding in a future round.

Design and construction combined:

Applicants can apply for a combined design and construction project. All the applicable requirements for both design and construction projects apply. See the note in the construction discussion above on combining all elements of a project and the need to maintain a 2-3 year completion date.

Land purchase:

Where purchase of land and/or easements is necessary for an FbD project, land purchase is an eligible project cost. This includes purchase of conservation easements, development rights or fee title to land. Where the purchase of an entire parcel is necessary to obtain the required land, the proposal should be clear regarding management of the land obtained outside the project area. This land must be managed consistent with FbD objectives, and should avoid creating new residential or commercial-type development in flood-prone areas. Additionally, Floodplains by Design funds can be applied/used for a comprehensive river reach-based approach to land acquisition should multiple river front parcels become available.

Ecology can work through an escrow process, if needed, to assist the recipient in the land acquisition process.

Please note: Ecology will not be a holder or co-holder of conservation easements under the Floodplains by Design Grant Program.

Land Purchase Usage and Restrictions:

Eligible land costs are subject to the following limitations, in addition to other requirements of the agency:

-Public Access – Appropriate opportunities for public access must be provided to land acquired with FbD funds where feasible, unless an exception is granted. If a recipient proposes to preclude public access from grant-acquired property, justification must be provided relating to public safety or other relevant features of the property and adjoining area Please Note: Public access will not be required for the purchase of Conservation Easements.
-State Agency Land Acquisition Prohibited – State agencies are ineligible to receive FbD funds for land acquisition
-Willing Seller Only – FbD land acquisitions are by willing sellers only. Acquiring land by condemnation or eminent domain are not eligible for FbD grant reimbursement.
-If Relocation Needed – Floodplains by Design will cover costs associated with relocation if needed. FbD recognizes that many entities and local governments follow the Federal Uniform Relocation Act (URA) and will work with local governments accordingly.

Project specific outreach and education components:

Projects that require targeted project specific public outreach and education efforts are eligible for grant funding, as part of the larger project. Project specific outreach and education use effective methods and programs, to engage the public's interest in flood reduction and ecosystem restoration. Applicants should consider that the public has different levels of background knowledge of flooding and ecological restoration issues. Therefore, applicants should consider a multi-pronged approach to project outreach.

Project outreach efforts should include:
-Targeting only audiences affected or impacted by the proposed project
-Generating basic awareness of flooding and ecosystems for target audience.
-Educating at a more sophisticated level using comprehensive content.

Riparian/wetland restoration, planting:

Planning and implementing riparian and wetland habitat restoration projects are eligible grant components. If the project includes planting, you must provide a planting plan or description of how you will ensure plant survival and maintenance.

Pre and Post project assessment:

Project assessment both before and after project completion is important for tracking project results. Ecology may allow the use of grant funds for project assessments if the assessment takes place within the grant period. Typically, a recipient undertakes pre and post project assessments to characterize, identify or quantify the existing conditions present at/on a particular site/area. Prior to initiating environmental assessment activities, the recipient must prepare a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP).

Other Administrative costs:

In addition to the project types above, a Floodplains by Design grant routinely covers costs for other administrative items such as grant management, obtaining required permits and approvals, completing Letters of Map Revisions or Conditional Letters of Map Revision (as required by 44 CFR 65.3), and other administrative requirements.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 166463

Estimated Size of Grant:

Small projects are defined as those with an award value of $500,000 or less.

Term of Contract:

Projects must be achievable in two to three years.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Entities eligible to apply include:
-Counties, cities, and towns
-Special purpose districts, such as flood control districts
-Federally recognized tribes
-Conservation districts
-Municipal or quasi-municipal corporations
-Not-for-profit organizations that are recognized as tax exempt by the Internal Revenue Service

Note: Ecology will issue a grant to a single eligible lead entity that will be responsible for all Ecology-grant-required actions and will manage all sub-agreements. FbD grant recipients may provide sub-agreements to other organizations and partners in a watershed where a large body of work will occur.

The following are examples of ineligible in-kind contributions:
-Contributions of overhead costs, per-diem, travel, and subsistence expenses.
-Contributed time from individuals receiving compensation through the grant, except when those individuals are off duty and contributing on their own time.
-Time spent at advisory groups or meetings that do not directly relate to the project
-Studies conducted by other state or federal agencies.

Remediation Projects:
Floodplains by Design funds cannot be used for projects whose primary focus is remediation of toxic sediments or structures. Project proponents can receive guidance and are encouraged to work with the Department of Ecology’s Toxic Cleanup Program (TCP) to address toxics on site prior to any application for Floodplains by Design funding. Project proponents are also encouraged to work with TCP to ensure any remediation actions will not prevent future options for flood risk reduction and ecosystem restoration. Link provided below:

Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) and Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) Programs:
It has been established that Floodplains by Design funds cannot be used in TDR and PDR Programs. In 2016, the Floodplains by Design Program sought State Treasury’s input on the use of said funds in TDR and PDR programs. Treasury concluded that as FbD funds are public tax exempt and bonded funds, they are not appropriate for such programs due to the potential of private gain with this public funding source.

Pre-Application Information:

Projects must demonstrate a 20% match (i.e., Flood Control Zone District, city, county, or federal funds). The program offers extensive flexibility in terms of what constitutes match. Match can be shown in the form of other grant funds, value of land previously acquired as long as the land is used for implementation of the project, time spent working on a project, and in-kind materials.

The application process begins with a Pre-Proposal. The Pre-Proposal form is provided by Ecology when the Request for Proposals (RFP) is released in the fall of odd numbered years.

The pre-proposal must be submitted electronically to Ecology by February 16th, 2018.

Pre-proposals will be evaluated by Ecology flood team staff and the FbD Management Team. The ranking will be released by March 16th, 2018, and the top applications best meeting the objectives of the FbD program will be invited to submit full proposals.

Full proposals are due electronically to Ecology by June 29, 2018. Full proposals are to be submitted via Ecology’s EAGL (Ecology Administration of Grants and Loans) process.

Program Guidelines:

Read additional information about this funding opportunity:

Application Instructions:

Contact Information:

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

Register online to apply:

Scott McKinney, Fund Manager
(360) 407-6131

Bev Huether, Financial Manager
(360) 407-7254

Grant Managers

Southwest (Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Mason, Lewis, Pacific, Pierce, Skamania, Thurston, and Wahkiakum Counties) and Northwest Washington (Island, King, Kitsap, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom Counties):

Adam Sant
(360) 407-7675

Central Washington (Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan, and Yakima Counties):

Michelle Gilbert
(509) 457-7139

Eastern Washington (Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties):

Lynn Schmidt
(509) 329-3413

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Washington