Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI) -- Request for Research Concepts: Fostering community engagement and enhancing community-municipal partnerships to address linkages between stormwater and trash, litter and/or illicit discharges in NC Sto

Funding Agency:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The Stormwater Group (SWG) was formed in 1998 as a subgroup of the Urban Water Consortium and is administered by the NC Water Resources Research Institute (NC WRRI). Membership comprises nine municipal stormwater programs1 in North Carolina, most of which are NPDES Phase 1 communities. Through membership dues, the SWG sponsors research and technology transfer on urban stormwater and management issues that are identified as priorities by the SWG. 

The priorities and needs of the SWG have evolved since its inception. Initial focus was on foundational research to better understand stormwater, its impacts and methods for control. The SWG has since shifted focus to a more applied research approach that can help the members more effectively manage their programs, address the many nuances and challenges of stormwater management, respond to local, state and federal requirements, and ultimately support projects that enable timely measurable impact to the local stormwater programs and the communities and waterways they serve.

The municipal stormwater programs that comprise the SWG routinely implement projects to reduce the impact of stormwater runoff on the water quality of receiving streams. These programs also provide education, outreach and engagement, both about projects being implemented and about surface water quality issues more generally, to a variety of demographics in their respective municipalities. Additionally, the programs interface with the public in other ways not typically considered community engagement, but that provide significant opportunities to address gaps in communication and relationship-building related to municipal stormwater activities (such as when field crews access easements, make infrastructure repairs, address flooding concerns or conduct other activities that require a physical public presence). The SWG recognizes that a single approach to communication, education and engagement in order to achieve stormwater program goals may not be equally effective across all demographics. 

The SWG also sees a need to better understand the interests of their constituents and to build relationships across all demographics in order to effectively serve their communities, respond to community needs and meet local, state and federal stormwater goals and permit requirements. The SWG is particularly concerned about underserved communities, marginalized communities, communities of color, low- orfixed-income communities and/or communities that may experience other socio-economic disadvantages (e.g. elderly communities or areas of lower municipal investments). 

The SWG seeks concepts for models and implementation of approaches that help member municipalities effectively engage communities and build partnerships around issues associated with stormwater and trash, litter, and/or illicit discharges.  

Projects proposed in response to this RFP should engage underserved communities, marginalized communities, communities of color, and/or low- orfixed-income communities. Proposals should include meaningful public engagement, public participation, and/or collaboration with members of the communities where research is to take place

Deadline: Feb. 11, 2019

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Eligible to apply to this funding opportunity are: research and/or extension faculty of any accredited college or university (public or private) in North Carolina; private consultants with an office in North Carolina; and non-profits with an office in North Carolina. Undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral support may be included in proposals, but students and post-docs are not eligible to apply as a PI. 

The SWG encourages applicants to collaborate with industry, local community groups, federal, state, or local agencies and/or with researchers from different academic institutions and disciplines. The SWG also encourages submissions from PIs in early-career status. 

An individual may be listed as an investigator on a maximum of two submissions and serve as lead PI on only one. That is, if you are involved in two concept submissions, you may be a co-investigator on both, or a co-investigator on one and lead PI on the other.

Recognizing that some students, faculty and professionals of color have been underserved and under-targeted with research opportunities, and that some students, faculty and professionals of color are underrepresented in the sciences, we strongly encourage submissions by and/or collaborative partnerships with one ormore of the following: - African American, Hispanic and Native American faculty, students and professionals - Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) - Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs)



Amount Description

Generally, projects may be 1-3 years in duration with a total project budget of $80,000. Indirect rates are under negotiation and could range from 0-10%. 

Funding Type



Minorities encouraged


Community Outreach and Engagement
Environmental & Life Sciences
Social Sciences

External Deadline

February 11, 2019