Floodplains by Design Grants

State of Washington Department of Ecology

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Grant amount: Unspecified amount

Anticipated deadline: Jul 1, 2020 (Full proposal)

Applicant type: Government Entity Nonprofit Indigenous Group College / University

Funding uses: Research, Project / Program

Location of project: Washington

Location of residency: Washington

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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 through 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 our 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 our communities. Yet floodplain management has not kept pace with our growing communities. People are living in the path of flood waters; our 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 that is tailored to the specific reach of a river which reduces flood risk to affected communities, restores ecological function and is a net gain for other community interests. In areas, where agriculture is a dominant land use, projects need to be part of a strategy that provides a net gain for agriculture as well as enhance ecological function. Ideal projects are part of 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 reach strategy includes a technical assessment of the reach and set of integrated actions, and robust stakeholder process and agreement of the objectives and any conclusions of the process. A river reach is a user-defined section of river that contains a unifying geomorphic, land-use, infrastructure or other characteristics. An individual project can in itself contain all the required benefits for flood risk reduction, ecological function and community interests, or it can be one component of a larger strategy that seeks to achieve all the benefits. If it is the later, the project proponent must demonstrate how the project fits into a larger strategy that has broad support of the affected community. 

FbD Goals

  • Improve Floodplain Function
  • Improve Flood Protection
  • Improve Agricultural Lands
  • Cost Effectiveness
  • Improve Community Benefits

Project Types

There are two categories of funding available

  • Projects which contain most or all elements of a FbD project within themselves, projects that are part of a reach strategy, or projects with preconstruction elements, and
  • Projects that are small projects.
    • Small projects are defined as those with an award value of $500,000 or less. Small projects may contain any of the project elements below: 

Project Elements

  • Pre-Construction 
  • Smaller Projects
  • Feasibility and Design Projects
  • Construction
  • Design and construction combined
  • Land purchase
  • Project specific outreach and education components
  • Riparian/wetland restoration, planting 
  • Pre and Post project assessment 
  • Other Administrative costs

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


  • Entities eligible to apply include:
    • Counties, cities, and towns.
    • Special purpose districts, such as flood control districts.
    • Conservation districts.
    • Municipal or quasi-municipal corporations.
    • Federally recognized tribes.
    • Not-for-profit organizations that are recognized as tax exempt by the Internal Revenue Service. 
  • Eligible project activities include:
    • Pre-construction planning and design project
    • Feasibility and/or Design projects
    • Construction
    • Design and Construction combined
    • Land Purchase
    • Project specific outreach and education components
    • Riparian/wetland restoration
    • Pre- and post-construction assessment elements
  • Projects must demonstrate a 20% match (i.e., Flood Control Zone District, city, county, state or federal funds). 


  • 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 our best agricultural soils are located.
    • Projects on large river systems are more likely to receive funding than projects on small river systems.


  • Floodplains by Design funds cannot be used for projects whose primary focus is remediation of toxic sediments or structures