Watershed Assistance Grant Program

Chesapeake Bay Trust

Grant amount: US $5,001 - US $75,000

Anticipated deadline: Sep 22, 2018 2:00pm PDT

Applicant type: Government Entity Nonprofit

Funding uses: Applied Project / Program

Location of project: Maryland

Location of residency: Maryland

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The Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources and Environment welcome requests from local governments and non-profit organizations for assistance with the earliest phases of watershed restoration projects. Support is available for watershed restoration project designs and for watershed planning and programmatic development. The ultimate goal of the projects funded through this opportunity will be improved water quality in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the Maryland portion of the Youghiogheny watershed, and the Maryland Coastal Bays and, specifically, progress towards goals of the Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) process. This opportunity is intended to enhance local engagement in near-term WIP goals.

About the Watershed Implementation Plan Milestones
The strategy for restoring our watersheds has involved states and local jurisdictions to identify milestones to be reached in two-year increments. In early 2016, local WIP teams submitted Two-Year Milestones to MDE that identify programmatic and implementation goals they will strive to meet during the 2016-2017 milestone period. The local Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) milestones reflect the near-term commitments of Maryland’s partners in the collaborative effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay and our local rivers, lakes and streams.  

Goal of this Funding Opportunity
By funding the earliest phases of watershed restoration projects and planning, the funding partners aim to provide local governments and nonprofit organizations the ability to position themselves to quickly advance implementation work. The funding partners hope the products of grants funded under this opportunity (project designs, plans, and other work) will enable grantees to:  

  • Leverage resulting designs, plans, or projects to craft future proposals for implementation funding to the Maryland Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, grant programs at the Chesapeake Bay Trust, or other sources of support;
  • Develop deliverables that will implement Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) strategies;
All projects must support implementation of local milestones developed to advance the Watershed Implementation Plan strategies. WIP strategies include a wide range of practices and project types, and contributors to these strategies may include a variety of partners and types of lead organizations. For information on the 2016-2017 milestones, please see here; for information on anticipated milestones to be committed to MDE in 2017-2018, please contact your local jurisdiction. Projects that cross watershed boundaries should consider milestones of both jurisdictions. For projects in jurisdictions that have not yet developed Milestones, please contact the Trust. The Watershed Assistance Collaborative includes other opportunities for local governments and non-profit organizations, such as training events and programs for watershed restoration financing and planning.  

Types of Eligible Projects

Two tracks are offered within the Watershed Assistance Grant Program: the Project Design track and the Watershed Planning and Program Development track. The 2016-2017 Milestones were due to be submitted to MDE in January 2016 and should now be reflected in the relevant local jurisdictions’ plans; to the extent possible projects proposed should support or be directly reflected in the current local jurisdiction Milestones. Non-profit applicants should have a letter of support from the local government(s) indicating a willingness to add or reflect the proposed project in Milestones submitted to MDE.  Applicants in both tracks are strongly encouraged to contact Trust and Department of Natural Resource (DNR) staff early during project idea development.

See the complete RFP for details of each track.

Project Design Track

Applicants may request funding to create buildable designs for specific watershed restoration projects identified in the WIP Milestone commitments submitted or anticipated to be submitted to MDE by local jurisdictions. The strongest design proposals will be linked directly to an existing detailed watershed action plan and will propose deliverables to include 90-100% biddable designs and specifications. The ideal design proposal would request funds to develop 100% design and specifications for the top priority project listed in a more detailed watershed action plan. For projects that are not specifically identified in a more detailed watershed action plan or that are not among the top priority projects, additional justification for project and/or site selection must be provided. A strong design proposal would also take into account land uses upstream of the project and any upstream restoration activities or other changes in land use.  

Eligible project types include bioretention cells, large-scale rain gardens, other low impact development stormwater techniques, environmental site designs, stream restoration, wetland and marsh creation, and any of the suite of agricultural water quality best management practices. Although water quality and water quantity problems often intersect, proposed projects that deal solely with water quantity issues will not be competitive in this program.  

Please note, while generally funding requests will be less than $75,000, stream restoration design projects may request up to $200,000.

Watershed Planning and Program Development Track   

Applicants may request funding for specific projects identified in the existing Programmatic Milestones submitted to MDE by local jurisdictions or anticipated to be submitted to MDE in the 2017-2018 milestones, including projects addressing legal authority development or enhancement, organizational enhancement, watershed characterization, watershed action plans, or resource enhancement. Watersheds and topics of focus can be predominantly agricultural, urban, suburban, or any combination of these. Planning efforts may focus on one or more of the activities (A-E) found below. Please note that all of the criteria itemized under each area of activity must be answered in the applicant’s proposal to be considered for funding. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Trust, DNR, or MDE staff prior to applying to discuss spatial and geographic scale (for watershed planning projects). The proposal should address one of the following five areas of activity with the ultimate intent of accelerating the reduction of nutrients and sediment loads. For all projects, scopes of work must clearly articulate deliverables and include detailed budget requests. Before submitting a project in the watershed planning and program development track, please determine whether a watershed plan already exists for all or part of your watershed. A partial inventory of watershed plans can be found here under web based resources.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • The funding partners welcome requests from local government and non-profit applicants.
    • Please note that project personnel listed on the application as Executive Officer or Project Lead must be staff of or otherwise associated with the applicant organization. 
    • Neither role can be filled by staff of for-profit or not-for-profit partner entities. 
    • Applications with such listing will be considered incomplete and may be returned to the applicant without review.
  • By submitting an application to this program, applicants acknowledge that
    • they are compliant with State and federal employment and non-discrimination laws and
    • they have not been debarred, convicted, charged or had a civil judgment rendered against them for fraud or related offense by any government agency (federal, state or local) or been terminated for cause or default by any government agency (federal, state or local).


  • In light of the Trust’s goals to engage under-engaged and underrepresented audiences, projects initiated by and/or involving underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged.
  • Match is encouraged but not required.


  • Projects or programs that are wholly required by a separate Federal, state, or locally issued permit, decree, or enforcement action cannot be supported through this opportunity.
    • In some cases, funding partners may elect to fund optional portions of required projects that are in excess of regulatory requirements. 

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