Strapped for cash: How to help fund public projects for communities

April 29, 2019 David Hayson

With the right approach, communities can fund flood mitigation using grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency

 

When it comes to funding projects, finding the money is rarely an easy task. Funding for community projects is generally allocated by city, state, and federal governments, as well as private organizations. But usually, there’s not enough money to go around—it’s just not in the budget. That’s why it’s crucial to strategically assess a community’s needs in a way that effectively puts public funds to good use.

Most communities face funding challenges. They have critical infrastructure issues that must be addressed, but they also need help paying for them. When available funding isn’t enough—or doesn’t exist—where can they get the financial assistance they need? The issues won’t go away on their own, so how can these communities find a way to fund their projects?

That’s where we come in.

 

Many communities face funding challenges. They have critical infrastructure issues that must be addressed, but they also need help paying for them.

 

_q_tweetable:The grants are extremely useful tools. And because the grants are limited to $4 million, they’re typically geared toward communities that don’t have the funding._q_

Knowledge transfer: A Stantec staple

The challenge of funding is especially true in the Water sector, but I can tell you that it doesn’t have to be so hard. At Stantec, we have the in-house tools and expertise to help communities establish effective and economical projects—projects that can qualify for grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Ohio Stormwater Conference is an annual gathering that focuses on important issues in the region and welcomes clients, stakeholders, companies, and city councilors from all over the state. The event is dedicated to advancing the knowledge and understanding of comprehensive stormwater management for those dealing in all aspects of planning, design, implementation, and regulatory compliance. I presented at the event in 2018 on our flood mitigation efforts in Findlay, Ohio, and was fortunate to be invited back to present on another local project. In 2019, the conference takes place in Sharonville, Ohio—a community that we recently helped achieve more than $1.9 million in FEMA grants.

 

 

Funding flood mitigation efforts in Sharonville, Ohio

The City of Sharonville is just north of Cincinnati. FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) reveals areas of concern for the community. Why? Because most of downtown Sharonville is at risk of flooding from a local creek due to runoff from large storms.

To combat this challenge, the City brought in our team to conduct a hydrologic and hydraulic analysis (H&H). We use H&H models to estimate the flood risk to communities and property owners. Then we develop multiple solutions of proposed improvements to the community and evaluate the benefits of each. That way, we can select the most appropriate project to reduce risk.

 

The City of Sharonville, Ohio, is at risk of flooding from a local creek due to runoff from large storms. The City was awarded a FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance grant with local match funding coming through the Ohio Department of Transportation—the owners of the culvert.

 

The results in Sharonville? Our analysis exposed deficiencies with the conveyance of the existing culvert under Main Street and lack of stormwater detention in the watershed. We recommended cost-effective alternatives and worked with Sharonville to identify funding opportunities. Ultimately, the City was awarded a FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance grant with local match funding (another $645,000) coming through the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT)—the owners of the culvert.

The proposed improvements will reduce the risk of flooding for the majority of downtown Sharonville with limited costs to the City.

 

An opportunity for all

This type of opportunity exists for many communities—in Ohio and in other states—that find themselves strapped for cash.

The grants are extremely useful tools. And because the grants are limited to $4 million, they’re typically geared toward communities that don't have the available funding. As part of the grant process, the community must prove that the project is cost-effective. This means our team must demonstrate that the benefits of the project outweigh the cost in order to earn the grant. Fortunately, we have the appropriate in-house expertise to get it done right.

As we continue to provide this support, we will only increase our understanding of the process. We will also work to share our success and encourage other communities to reach out for assistance.  

To find out more about grant opportunities in your communities, stop by for my presentation at the 2019 Ohio Stormwater Conference. I will be presenting at 10:30 am on Friday, May 10. Learn more here: https://ohstormwaterconference.com/

About the Author

David Hayson

David Hayson is a senior project manager in our Water Resources group based in our Cincinnati, Ohio, office. His background is mostly in hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, and he has helped communities with flood mitigation projects.

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