This tool helps you obtain funding to support long-term source protection.

Continuous funding is critical to meeting source water protection goals. Your source protection plan should identify ways to secure funding for each proposed activity. You must first obtain buy-in from leadership in your organization, because many funding bodies require political sign-off or support. Collaborating through multipurpose projects can provide access to otherwise unavailable grants, charities, lotteries, donations, and corporate partnerships.

Sustained funding allows programs to build over years, and it allows for long-term planning of projects, knowing that funding is going to be in place. However, benefits from the funding must be continually communicated to keep political will, or funds can be diverted. Building a business case for source protection (TOOL 4) is essential.

Option 1. Create a Source Protection Fund

(adapted from the Conservation Fund Guide)

 Bring partners together
Build a network of support with partners from the watershed, including First Nations, water suppliers, and governments. Create a Steering Committee with terms-of-reference and identify a champion to lead coordinated efforts. Together, create a vision and plan to establish a new source protection fund.

 Determine priorities (from your source water protection plan, but get specific now)
Identify the types of source protection measures that the fund will help implement. These can be land acquisitions, incentive programs, education and community engagement, green infrastructure, or other initiatives. Gauge the community’s support and priorities using opinion polls and focus groups.

 Identify and select best funding options

  • Establish a new service area (local governments)
    Local government water suppliers can establish a new service area either within your jurisdiction, or cooperatively through a regional approach. Read how the RDN did it and go to pg. 28 of their original Response Plan to learn about the benefits of a cooperative approach and their reasons to fund the service area through a flat rate parcel tax instead of a property assessment tax, fee, or charge.
  • Seek approval to increase revenue from existing streams of income
    Improvement & irrigation districts, water user communities, and water utilities can seek approval to increase revenue from existing streams of income (e.g., taxation, fees, rates, or a combination of) on the basis that the increase will be earmarked to fund source protection.

 Gain support and approval
Make a compelling case to convince the service users and any entity involved in the process of approving budgeting amendments. First, get approval from your council, board, or other governing body. Second, focus on the users—educate and engage them on the intent of the fund, how it will be financed, and how they will benefit from it. Third, present a separate case to any entity involved in the process of approving budget amendments. Make sure to present quantitative evidence of existing support from users.

Option 2. Collaborate to Access Funds from Grants, Donations, and Charitable Lotteries

First, recognize that stakeholders with competing interests are valuable partners even if their activities impact source water. Industry stakeholders and government ministries can have funding and permission to carry out work where your organization may not, and they can help implement solutions outside of your jurisdiction (this is why it is important to establish a TAC with stakeholder representation during STEP 1 of the ROADMAP to Source Water Protection and to follow the tips provided in TOOL 1). They may not directly fund a project, but their contributions in labour or other resources can reduce your costs.

Second, work together to find solutions. Also involve government agencies that regulate stakeholder activities because they can provide seed money from their annual budgets for collaboration (read pg. 7 of the Duteau Creek Watershed Assessment Response Plan to see the RDNO’s success in collaborating with forestry, ranching, and FLNRORD to improve cattleguards in the watershed).

Tap into otherwise unavailable funds with multipurpose projects that satisfy the goals of source protection along with those of another group. Various groups contribute financial resources, volunteer labour, or equipment to specific causes – leverage that using a project that fulfils mutual needs. For example, collaborating with financial institutions, environmental societies or community groups, and schools provides indirect access to funds such as the EcoAction Community Funding Program, RBC Tech for Nature grant, WWF-Canada, and Stewards of the Future – all the more reason to develop new relationships, strengthen existing partnerships, and help each other out with mutually beneficial projects.

Pro Tip: To find ideas for a multipurpose project, research available grants from various subject areas at, or conduct an online search of societies in your town to identify other community needs that could align with a source protection project. For example: an engineered wetland could be developed to also provide accessible bird viewing platforms and paths; a land purchase that protects greenspace could also be revitalized with native, edible vegetation and promoted as a foraging reserve for residents.

$140 million dollars are available annually through BC’s Community Gaming Grant for not-for-profit groups that deliver community programs and services. Environmental societies and not-for-profit environmental groups that seek to revitalize, protect, or provide education about the environment can also raise money through donations, charitable lotteries, and other grants. Further, essential services such as healthcare receive millions of dollars in donations from charitable groups. While we don’t want to take donations from healthcare, we should assert that water is an essential service too.

Approach environmental societies or not-for profit groups to form a collaborative partnership using the steps below2, 3 and the BMPs from TOOL 1:

 Determine what you want to achieve.

 Identify asks (what do you need) and gives (what can you contribute to create beneficial exchange).

 Find the fit. Search for organizations at the local, regional, and national levels with overlapping goals who can help implement solutions.

 Make the connection. When reaching out to new potential partners, find a shared connection who can help facilitate the introduction (via LinkedIn); this will increase the odds of being well received compared to reaching out as a stranger. Call or email the shared connection, asking if they know the potential partner well enough to introduce you to them, and provide a succinct memo that describes who you are, why you want to chat about a partnership, and how they can reach you.

 Formalize an agreement. Together, identify a common goal and create a plan that outlines how you’ll collaborate, what other groups might be involved, and what resources each partner will commit. This is a good opportunity to formalize the details on donations and charitable lotteries, such as, how much money is needed for a shared project, how much of it will be funded through donations and lotteries, among others.

Pro Tip: Launch a peer-to-peer campaign to increase the odds of success. People are more likely to support a cause if they’ve been encouraged to by someone they know.

Option 3. Develop Corporate Partnerships

Businesses recognize the benefits of a having a good environmental reputation. Many participate in programs to minimize or compensate for their environmental impacts because it increases their social licence to operate. Increasingly, citizens expect that businesses operate not only according to regulatory permission, but also to social standards; governments recognize this and are more willing to grant operational permits or licences to businesses with popular support.

Focus on developing corporate relationships with businesses whose community program goals align with your source water protection endeavours. They may be willing to volunteer labour and equipment or direct funds to a partnering environmental group.

Option 4. Earn Conservation Compensation Credits

Municipalities can create a compensation and credit system whereby fees are paid by developers when ecological services are disturbed due to construction, and credits are generated through the restoration and/or protection of habitat such as wetlands, riparian areas, and floodplains.

Option 5. Earmark Development Permit Fees

Municipalities could mandate environmental protection standards or rehabilitation as part of development permits. They could also earmark fees from development permits so that DPs cover more than just the staff time to manage them.

Option 6. Earn Activity-Specific Revenue

Municipalities could instigate a User-Pay-To-Play system to collect fees, such as boat launch fees. Municipalities could formalize an agreement to apply a standard rate at all major lakes for one of annual launch passes, daily launch passes, parking lot charges, or a combination pass.

A 2008 study of 27 boat launches found that 52,820 boats were launched between May 16 and September 14, averaging 429 boats/day in the Okanagan. Major boat launches in the Okanagan charge for parking, but some are currently free of charge. Port Moody charges $21.10/day + tax for launch access and parking. Annual passes are available to residents at $169.15 + tax and to non-residents for $269.75 + tax. If this user fee system was applied to the Okanagan, it could generate funds to support programs that protect the mainstem lakes such as, Don’t Move A Mussel.

Option 7. Obtain Grant Funding

Grants are a good source of short-term or supplemental funds but should not be relied on for long-term because programs usually operate for a short duration—hence frustration with unreliable funding.

Short-term funds are available from these providers: Infrastructure Planning Grants; Okanagan Basin Water Board; Green Municipal Fund; Civic Info; B.C. Economic Development and Funding Grants; Real Estate Foundation of B.C.; Government of Canada Environmental Funding; and Clean Water and Wastewater Fund Program.

Pro Tip: Prepare regular annual or biannual 1-page updates and brief (3 minute) presentations of source water protection wins that received sustained funding to maintain interest of funders and stakeholders.

Case Studies

Pops for Parks

Pops for Parks Funding Mechanism in the United States New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine and Michigan fund environmental programs by claiming deposit fees from unrecycled beverage containers, which otherwise remains…


Sustainable Financing in Drinking Water Management: Considerations for Local Government Administrators published in 2020 by the Auditor General for Local Government

Civic Info BC Grants database

Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Funding Opportunities.

Government of British Columbia, Infrastructure Planning Grant Program.

Government of British Columbia. Economic Development and Funding Grants.

Government of Canada, EcoAction Community Funding Program.

Government of Canada. Clean Water and Wastewater Fund Program Overview.

Government of Canada. Environmental Funding Services and Information.

Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. Grants.

Okanagan Basin Water Board Water Conservation and Quality Improvement Grant Program.

RBC Tech for Nature.

The Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia. REFBC Grants.

World Wildlife Fund.