MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will award more than $6 million to local groups to protect and improve surface water.

Lake groups, river groups, local governments and non-profit organizations are encouraged to apply for a grant. Interested organizations should submit a pre-application by Sept. 15 to ensure they are eligible to compete for a grant in November.

The DNR’s Surface Water Grant Program leverages money from the water resources account of the state conservation fund to help local communities accelerate water conservation efforts across Wisconsin. The funding can be used to support a wide range of locally driven projects that invest in watershed restoration and surface water protection.

Activities eligible for funding include:

  • Organizational capacity building
  • Educational programs on surface water
  • Data collection and ecological assessments
  • Lake and river management planning
  • Water quality improvement
  • Projects that restore habitat
  • Aquatic invasive species prevention and control
  • Conservation easements and land acquisition

This year, the DNR would like to call attention to the grant program’s ability to support integrated aquatic plant management. The department is currently proposing new rules that may require plans and monitoring to receive a permit for large aquatic plant control projects. The surface water grant program can provide financial support to help communities achieve their aquatic plant management goals. Eligible organizations can seek surface water planning grants for up to $10,000 per project to support plant monitoring and management plans.

Who Is Eligible To Apply For Grant Funding?

Eligible organizations include lake associations and districts, river management organizations, local units of government, nonprofits, schools and others. Individuals are not eligible for grants (with few exceptions) but may partner with an organization that is willing to sponsor a project. Reach out now to your local environmental grant specialist to confirm eligibility.


What Funding Is Available?

The amount of funding available varies by project. For example, education projects are eligible for up to $5,000 in state support. Comprehensive planning grants are available for $25,000 each, while the larger management plan implementation grants can provide up to $200,000 per project. Grants operate on a reimbursement basis and require matching funds ranging from 25% to 33% of the total project cost.

How To Apply

Submit a pre-application by Sept. 15. This will connect you to local assistance and ensure you are eligible to submit a final application on Nov. 15.

Pre-application forms can be found under the “applying” tab on the DNR’s Surface Water Grants webpage. Right-click the link to Surface Water Grant Application Form 8700-284 and download or “save as” to create a copy of the form on your computer. Open the form from your local drive and fill out the sections labeled “pre-application.”

Email the form by Sept. 15 to [email protected] The department will be in touch with more information following your submission.


For More Information

Visit the Surface Water Grant Program webpage for more information on applying and managing a grant project.

The DNR Surface Water Grant Applicant Guide is a comprehensive user manual for the program. This document has been updated for the 2022-2023 grant cycle. It is organized chronologically to explain how to navigate the grant program from application to closing. Start by reading Section 1, which contains enough high-level introductory information to get you started.

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