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grant opportunities.
loan opportunities.
Community Financial Assistance staff.
Contact information
For general information on DNR grant programs, contact:
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Surface Water Grants

The Surface Water Grants Program is currently undergoing changes. For information on the rule change process and timeline please visit NR 193 Rule Changes. The newly created administrative rule Chapter NR 193 Surface Water Grant Program is effective as of June 1, 2020. New draft program guidance will be posted at DNR’s Proposed Program Guidance webpage June 8, 2020. Please review the draft guidance and submit formal comments to within 21 days of it being posted. All comments received will be considered. The final program guidance document will be posted here and on Final DNR Program Guidance in July. Prior to this, all information on this website may be considered obsolete and we anticipate website updates will be complete in early July.

The Surface Water Grant Program offers competitive, cost-sharing grants for surface water protection and restoration. Grants are available to support surface water management from start to finish. Whether your organization is interested in education, ecological assessments, planning, implementation or aquatic invasive species, there is probably a grant program that can help you accomplish your goals.

More information is available below. For a quick rundown of the grant opportunities, see the “Details” tab. For more in-depth information, see the full Surface Water Applicant Guide [PDF].

Stay informed

Before applying:

DNR forms work best on desktop computers with Adobe Reader, see PDF Help.

Application deadlines

December 10 - Planning February 1 - Management Year-Round
  • Lake Management Planning
    • Small Scale
    • Large Scale
  • Lake Classification & Ordinance Development
  • Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)
    • Education, Prevention & Planning
    • Clean Boats Clean Waters
  • River Planning
  • Lake Protection
    • Land/Easement Acquisition
    • Wetland & Shoreline Habitat Restoration
    • Lake Management Plan Implementation
    • Healthy Lakes Project
  • AIS Established Population Control
  • River Protection
    • River Management
    • Land/Easement Acquisition
  • AIS Early Detection & Response
  • AIS Maintenance & Containment

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Who can apply

Applicant Types AIS Grants Lakes Grants* Rivers Grants
Counties, cities, towns and villages
Federally recognized tribal governing body
Other local governmental units as defined in s. 66.0131(1)(a), Wis Stats.
Public Inland Lake Protection & Rehabilitation Districts
Town sanitary districts
Qualified lake associations  
Qualified river management organizations  
Qualified school districts (not for Lake Protection Grants)  
Private and public colleges, universities and technical schools    
Qualified nonprofit conservation organizations
Qualified nonprofit organizations    
State and federal natural resource agencies    
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licensed hydroelectric corporations    

* Exception: Only counties may apply for Lake Classification Grants.


Your local DNR Lake or River Grant Coordinator can help determine which program(s) might be best for your project.

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Prevention and Control Grants

AIS Prevention and Control Grants [PDF] share the costs of aquatic invasive species education programs that teach about the threats posed by invasive species and how to prevent and control them. These grants also help with projects that prevent new introductions, control existing populations, and restore habitat. Here are five Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention and Control grants subprograms:

  • Education, Prevention and Planning Projects (including Clean Boats Clean Waters)
  • Early Detection and Response Projects
  • Established Population Control Projects
  • Maintenance and Containment Projects
  • Research and Demonstration Projects

Lake Management Planning Grants

Lake Management Planning Grants [PDF] help pay for developing management plans to protect and restore lakes and their watersheds. Often, these plans turn into projects funded with Lake Protection grants. There are two categories of lake management planning grants: small-scale and large-scale.

Lake Protection Grants

Lake Protection Grants [PDF] assist eligible applicants with implementation of lake protection and restoration projects that protect or improve water quality, habitat or the elements of lake ecosystems. There are four basic Lake Protection subprograms:

  • Fee simple or Easement Land Acquisition
  • Wetland and Shoreline Habitat Restoration
  • Lake Classification and Local Ordinance Development
  • Lake Plan implementation
  • Healthy Lakes [exit DNR]

Lake Classification and Local Ordinance Development Grants

Lake Classification and Local Ordinance Development Grants [PDF] help counties study lakes to assign them different management classifications in order to guide plans to protect lakes and their watersheds that use both regulatory and management strategies. Grants also help implement those plans.

Local Ordinance Development grants help any unit of local government develop local regulations or ordinance projects to protect or improve a lake's water quality or its natural ecosystem. Lake Classification and Local Ordinance Development projects can be funded separately or jointly.

River Protection Grants

River Protection Grants [PDF] provide assistance in the formation of river management organizations and provides support and guidance to local organizations that are interested in helping to manage and protect rivers, particularly where resources and organizational capabilities may be limited. In addition, this grant program protects rivers by:

  • providing information on riverine ecosystems;
  • improving river system assessment and planning;
  • increasing local understanding of the causes of river problems; and
  • assisting in implementing management activities that protect or restore river ecosystems.

The River Protection Grants have three subprograms:

  • River Planning
  • River Management
  • Land/Easement Acquisition


Application forms

Application guidance

Organizational eligibility forms (needed for new surface water grant applicants)

If you are having problems opening forms, see PDF Help.

Suggested timeline (for grants due December 10)

June/July Meet with your Lake/River Group to brainstorm potential grant project
September Meet with your DNR Regional Lake/River/AIS Biologist [PDF] to discuss project idea
October (or before) Identify project partners and meet with them to discuss partnership opportunities (in-kind donation of cash, volunteer time, etc)
November (at the latest) Complete draft grant application [PDF] and submit to DNR Regional Lake/River/AIS Biologist and/or Environmental Grant Specialist for review
December Email completed grant application and attachments to DNR Surface Water Grants
How to submit materials
Preferred method: electronic submission.
Email completed forms & materials to DNR Surface Water Grants at:
Alternate methods: mail or hand-delivered submissions.
To send by U.S. Mail (the street address for overnight delivery service is):
Surface Water Grants Manager - CF/2
Department of Natural Resources
101 S Webster St
PO Box 7921
Madison WI  53707-7921
To send by UPS or FedEx (the street address for overnight delivery service is):
Surface Water Grants Manager - CF/2
Department of Natural Resources
101 S Webster St
Madison WI  53703
Hand deliver to the State Natural Resources Building, also known as General Executive Facility II (GEF 2) State Office Building, located in downtown Madison near the State Capitol:
Wisconsin DNR Central Office
101 S Webster St
Madison WI  53703
  • Monday thru Friday
  • Counter hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Office hours are 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Introducing Healthy Lakes Initiative: Funding for Lakeshore Best Practices Presentation Webinar

It's going to get easier to install lakeshore best practices in 2015! Learn more about our new Healthy Lakes initiative, which includes technical assistance/information and potential grant funding for implementing projects like Fish Sticks, rain gardens and native plantings.


Contact information
For questions about project eligibility, contact your regional coordinator.
For questions about eligible project costs, contact your regional environmental grants specialist.
DNR contacts for Lakes & Aquatic Invasive Species Control Grant [PDF]

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Last revised: Friday May 29 2020