What We Do

 Related Documents


 The Bronx River Watershed Initiative 2012 Request for Proposals

Online applications must be completed by Friday, June 1, 2012 by 5pm Eastern Daylight Time.

The Bronx River Watershed Initiative (BRWI) has approximately $1.1 million available for stormwater retrofit projects, including Low Impact Development (LID) initiatives, to address the root causes of pollution from stormwater outfalls to improve water quality and river ecology along the Bronx River. The funds come from a $7 million settlement generated by the New York State Attorney General’s Office and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, resulting from violations associated with discharges of raw sewage into the Bronx River from storm sewers. 

BRWI Management:  The New York State Attorney General’s Office and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) serve as trustees for the BRWI guiding its purpose and the final use of grant funds.  The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) manages the BRWI grants program under the direction of the trustees.

BRWI Goals: The BRWI is intended to support on-the-ground implementation of projects that are structural in nature with results including:

  • Improve water quality by directly removing pollutants from stormwater
  • Improve water quality by filtering pollutants through media
  • Increase rates of stormwater infiltration
  • Slow down stormwater runoff by reducing flow rates from a site and increasing time for infiltration
  • Improve or add retention capacity (the amount of water stored at the surface for the duration of a storm)
  • Improve or add detention capacity (restrain the flow of water temporarily before it moves further downstream)
  • Create CSO abatement or stormwater management programs to remove or reduce floatable debris from stormwater and/or waste-streams

Grant Size: Grant awards range from $50,000 to $350,000. Requests for less or greater than the specified amounts will not be reviewed.

Geographic Focus Bronx River Watershed: The Bronx River Watershed begins in Valhalla, New York near the Kensico Reservoir and flows south, draining a 56 square-mile watershed and emptying into the East River between Soundview and Hunts Point in the South Bronx. Please look at Bronx River Watershed Boundaries.

Are You Eligible for Funding? Because the original environmental injury triggering the $7 million settlement was to the Bronx River, projects must have a direct relationship to reducing or eliminating the quantity or improving the quality of the polluted stormwater flowing into the Bronx River. Before applying, you are encouraged to go to the Sewershed Map to confirm that your project is located in a specific part of the sewershed that flows directly into the Bronx River. Projects located within the brown boundary line of the watershed map or are otherwise documented to be located within the watershed or sewershed of the Bronx River are eligible for funding.

If you are still uncertain about whether your project fits within the boundaries of the program, please send an email to lynn.dwyer@nfwf.org with the address of your project site and latitude and longitude in degrees, minutes, seconds format.

Eligible Applicants

Federal, state and local government; non-profit organizations; educational institutions; and interstate entities or regional water pollution control agencies are eligible for funding.

Eligible Activities

Preference will be given to projects that include:

  • Measurable outcomes linked to project activities that reduce or eliminate the quantity or improve the quality of stormwater following into the Bronx River or otherwise enhance the ecological diversity of the Bronx River.
  • Specific provisions for long-term maintenance, management and protection, as appropriate (i.e., targeted water quality data sampling at designated locations; maintenance activities to document the effectiveness of projects or practices; and maintenance of debris-catching devices, Large Woody Debris (LWD) jams, or blockages; and mowing and weeding etc. to ensure proper function).
  • Activities consistent with the purpose of the BRWI.  Trustees of the BRWI are interested in demonstration retrofits located in areas that are highly visible or receive heavy foot traffic, such as community parks, greenway trails, schools or public buildings/facilities and municipal hotspots such as public works yards.
  • A minimum match of 25% of the total grant request.  While match is not required for BRWI proposals, larger match ratios at 1:1 or greater are strongly encouraged and will make a proposal significantly more competitive as shown in the evaluation factors used by the review team, described below.
  • Examples of the types of stormwater and Low Impact Development (LID) projects or practices eligible for funding under the BRWI include:
  • Innovative stormwater retrofit projects or programs used to maximize infiltration and filtration.  This includes: LID projects such as green roofs, rain gardens, street planters that intercept rainwater, rain barrels and cisterns, urban forestry, and bioretention areas etc.
  • Site redesign, redevelopment and retrofitting to integrate LID practices to provide improved stormwater control or otherwise enhance the ecological diversity of the Bronx River.
  • Bank stabilization: Enhance or restore native vegetation on stream banks to intercept and infiltrate stormwater and slow runoff and reduce erosion.
  • Riparian and Upland Buffers and Filter Strips: Plant native vegetation designed trap and filter sediments, nutrients, and chemicals from surface runoff or shallow groundwater or downstream of a runoff source.
  • Grassed Swales: Create one or a series of engineered, vegetated, open channel practices designed to treat and attenuate stormwater runoff for a specified water quality volume.
  • Infiltration Trenches: Create rock-filled chamber(s) with no outlet(s) to receive stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff passes through some combination of pretreatment measures, such as a swale or sediment basin before entering the trench where it infiltrates into the soil.
  • Greenstreets: Plant vegetation in street median or traffic/parking lot islands with strategically placed curb cuts that allow maximum flow of water to the area.
  • Programs to Disconnect Downspouts: Programs that redirect rooftop downspouts from underground pipes to irrigation systems for nearby gardens and green spaces, either directly or by using storage techniques like rain barrels, cisterns and/or stormwater planters.
  • Water Storage: Install storage techniques like rain barrels, cisterns and/or stormwater planters to receive, retain and filter runoff by allowing pollutants to settle.
  • Inlet Devices (a.k.a. hydrodynamic separators): Flow-through structures with settling or separation unit(s) to remove sediments and other stormwater pollutants. For example, hydrodynamic separators are ideal for areas with limited land availability such as stormwater "hotspots" (areas where higher concentrations of pollutants are more likely to occur; i.e., gas stations, municipal public works yards etc.).
  • Permeable Pavers: Install permeable pavers to allow water to seep through regularly interspersed gaps between the blocks capturing stormwater and pollutant runoff.
  • Permeable Pavement: Install permeable pavement that allows water to flow through and infiltrate into the underlying soil reducing runoff volume and rate and improving filtering of pollutants.
  • Retention or Wet Ponds: Install permanent pool(s) of standing water and plant with native vegetation to act as barriers to re-suspension of sediments and other pollutants removed during storms.
  • Constructed Wetlands or Detention Pond: Install shallow depressions to temporarily receive stormwater for treatment and allow multiple pollutant removal processes to operate.
  • Filtering Practices: Install practices that filter runoff through engineered media and collect treated runoff in an under-drain. The media may consist of sand, soil, compost, or a combination of these media.
  • Create CSO Abatement or Stormwater Management Programs: Programs to remove or reduce floatable debris from stormwater and/or waste-streams.

Attend a Workshop! 

We highly recommend you participate in a local workshop if you have not applied previously to the BRWI, if you have a new project and would like to receive feedback about the idea, or if you have applied previously and were turned down for funding. The focus of the workshops will address: types of projects sought under the BRWI, tips for preparing a successful application and comments about proposal ideas. The workshops will occur on Wednesday, May 9, 2012.

  • Westchester County, 10am – Noon.
  • Bronx, 1pm – 3pm.

You must register in order to participate in a workshop.  Follow the link to: Workshop Registration

Show How Well Your Project Fits!

For information about the fit of your proposal to important planning initiatives and priorities associated with stormwater management in the Bronx River Watershed, follow the link to: The Bronx River Watershed Management Plan. This is a comprehensive plan which lays out a strategy for limiting the amount of pollution entering the river and its tributaries via stormwater runoff in Westchester County.

Follow the link to: The Bronx River Greenway Plan and Ecological Restoration and Management Plan. This is a comprehensive plan which lays out a strategy for stormwater management in Bronx County. Review Chapters 5 and 6 which provide recommendations and information about plan implementation and management.

For more information about the fit of your project into broader stormwater strategy and management in New York City, follow the link to the: PlaNYC Sustainable Stormwater Plan.

Find Priority Project Sites!

Applicants please note that the Bronx River Alliance and the Westchester County Department of Planning have identified a number of priority sites for stormwater retrofits.

Follow the link to Bronx County Priority Stormwater Retrofit Sites and review Figure 5.2a for a list of projects and Figure 5.1 for location of projects on map.

Follow the link to Westchester Stormwater Management Priorities and review pages E-3 to E-5 for a list of priority projects.

Number of Applications

Please do not submit more than three applications per organization.  Universities are excluded from this limit if multiple departments or investigators are submitting proposals.  However, no more than one proposal will be accepted from any individual principal investigator. 


Applicants will be required to provide sufficient documentation about the status of all necessary permits and clearances that the project expects to receive and certification that the applicant is in compliance with federal, state, or local ordinances. Other types of permits an applicant may need to seek are as follows:

  • The applicant needs to report the Classification of the Bronx River or tributary under New York State law. Any portion of the river or tributary that is A, At, Ats, B, Bt, Bts, Ct, or Cts requires a DEC-issued Article 15 Stream Protection Permit to disturb the bed or bank of the Stream within 50 feet of the bank. For more information about this issue please follow the link to Bronx River Classification.
  • If the project will occur within 100’ of mean high water or the wetland, an Article 25 permit (construction of structures; alteration that includes earthwork) may be required.
  • If work is proceeding in the area of a mapped freshwater wetland, a DEC-issued Article 24 permit may be required.
  • If there is to be work on or about the bank of the Bronx River or tributary of the river, the applicant needs to provide the Area Flood Plain Map to insure that the project is not in a Flood Plain. If the project will occur on a Mapped Flood Plain, a Flood Plain Permit from your municipality is needed. Please note, all municipalities have copies of the Flood Plain maps. The discharge of pollutants to the waters of the state from any outlet or point source may require a DEC-issued SPDES Permit.  Depending on the project, SPDES permit requirements may be satisfied by coverage under a SPDES GP for Stormwater Discharges (MS4s, Construction Activity, Industrial Activity), or may require an individual SPDES Permit.
  • In addition, letters documenting permission to work on private, federal or state land not owned or managed by the applicant are required.

Time Period for Project Completion

Projects must begin implementation within three months of receipt of the formal grant award letter and should be completed within one to two and a half years. We understand a grant may cover only a single period of a longer-term project with multiple parts. However, the part of the project you are applying for must be completed in the designated time period. You can explain in the application that the funding will only be for the first phase of the project and that there are more elements to be developed and implemented to complete the larger project, but the part that is funded in this grant round must be completed in the time period described above.

Restrictions and Ineligible Activities

  • Proposals for research projects are not eligible for support under the BRWI. Those interested in funding for research should follow the link to LISS Research Grant Program.
  • Stand-alone education or outreach projects (educational projects that are not part of a stormwater retrofit or LID project) are not eligible for support under the BRWI. Those interested in funding for educational projects should follow the link to Long Island Sound Futures Fund.
  • Planning projects are not eligible for support under the BRWI. Those interested in funding for planning projects should follow the link to Long Island Sound Futures Fund.
  • Funds cannot be used for political advocacy, boycotts, litigation expenses, terrorist activities or activities conducted in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
  • Funds cannot be used for legally mandated actions under local, state or federal law, and/or associated with administrative permit conditions or terms of settlement agreements such as specific proposed projects that are listed in or pursuant to a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit.
  • Grantees and projects must be in compliance with all local, state and federal law.
  • Incomplete applications and proposals in formats other than the formal BRWI application will not be considered for funding.

Indirect, Administrative or Overhead Costs in Project Budgets

An organization may only include indirect costs in their project budgets if they meet the following conditions:

  • the organization has a formal federally-approved indirect rate;
  • the organization submits documentation* of its format federally-approved rate with its full proposal application; and
  • the indirect costs line item in the project budget does not exceed 15% of the total direct costs requested from the BRWI (even when the federally-approved rate is greater).

*Documentation includes the Indirect Cost Negotiation Agreement or the notification from a cognizant federal agency to an organization formalizing the approval of a final or provisional indirect cost rate.


While match is not required for BRWI proposals, larger match ratios at 1:1 or greater are strongly encouraged and will make a proposal significantly more competitive as shown in the evaluation factors used by review team described below.   We recommend a minimum match of 25% of the total grant request. 

Matching funds may include cash, in-kind contributions of staff and volunteer time, work performed, materials and services donated, or other tangible contributions to the project objectives and outcomes. To be eligible, matching contributions must be:

  • Raised and dedicated specifically for the project.
  • Spent between the project start and end dates designated in the grant application.  Please note: for ongoing projects or projects starting in advance of the BRWI 2012 award announcement, any match raised and dedicated specifically for the project from June 1, 2011 forward may be used towards BRWI match.  Need clarification?  Contact lynn.dwyer@nfwf.org.
  • Voluntary in nature (mitigation, restitution, or other permit or court-ordered settlements are not eligible to be used as match).
  • Applied only to the BRWI grant and not used as match for other grants.

Indirect Costs as Matching Contributions

  •  If an organization does not include indirect costs in its grant request, the organization and their project partners may include their full federally-approved indirect rate as a matching contribution towards a BRWI award. 
  • If an organization’s federally-approved indirect rate exceeds 15% of the direct costs requested from the BRWI, they may include indirect costs up to 15% of the direct costs in their budget and use the balance of the indirect rate as matching contributions.

Support Letters

You may provide a maximum of 5 letters of support. The purpose of a support letter is to show the level and type of support for the project among interested constituencies. Support letters should not be from persons affiliated with the applicant's organization (e.g., Board of Directors) or partners or direct participants in the project (i.e., federal or state employee providing long-term technical assistance).   Please note support letters will not be accepted after the application deadline.

Standards for Evaluation of Application

The review team for the BRWI will use the following standards to evaluate proposals. These standards are integrated into the application questions.


  • Relates to priorities of the request for proposal
  • Addresses the root causes of pollution from stormwater outfalls;  improves water quality and river ecology and/or reduces or eliminates quantity of stormwater
  • Includes an effective strategy to publically disseminate results
  • Develops transferability of information developed as a result of project

Potential for project success

  • Clarity & attainability of proposed conservation activities (deliverables at close of project period)
  • Soundness of technical approach
  • Reasonableness of timeframe to complete the project
  • Reasonableness and justification of budget request
  • Experience and qualifications of the applicant
  • Applicant has appropriate partners to complete the project

Comparison to other projects

  • Cost-effective project
  • Level of matching funds

How to Apply and Deadline for Application

Submit a full-proposal via the on-line application  system by Friday, June 1, 2012, 5pm Eastern Daylight Time.  The application will close at that time.

 You will need to register as a new user unless you have previously applied to NFWF under our online system.  Problems with the online system -- contact John Wright at john.wright@nfwf.org.


Award or turndown notification is projected to be made in October 2012.

Award and Contracting Process

Proposals received will be reviewed by the BRWI Review Team and ranked according to section Standards for Evaluation of Application.  Subsequently, applicants will receive email notification of the decision. After project selection, a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Project Administrator will work directly with the grantee to prepare grant agreements and other necessary paperwork based on the approved project proposal.

Following approval of the grantee's financial and legal documentation, budget and programmatic deliverables, a grant agreement will be drafted and emailed for signature by the grant recipient. The recipient then returns two copies of the signed agreement to NFWF, the grant is activated within the NFWF system and the grantee is able to request payment of a portion of grant funds.

Recipients will be expected to submit annual and final financial and programmatic reports.   Please note that 10 percent of the total grant award is held-back until NFWF receives and approves a final programmatic and financial report at the end of the grant period.


Contact Lynn Dwyer lynn.dwyer@nfwf.org with program or content questions.  Contact John Wright at john.wright@nfwf.org with questions about the online application system and the administrative aspects of the BRWI proposal (budget, legal and financial uploads etc.).