About Our Programs

The Water Research Foundation’s comprehensive One Water research programming includes five research programs designed to provide flexible funding and partnership opportunities to advance water research and innovation. Our focus is on applied research and innovative processes and technologies. We have a comprehensive and competitive selection process, proven quality control measures, and a nationally recognized expert review system.

Research Priority Program

The Research Priority Program enables us to address broadly relevant subscriber issues, challenges, and opportunities with targeted strategic plans for priority Research Areas. Individual project concepts are developed by advisory committees, made up of national and international experts, for each Research Area. Our Board-appointed Research Advisory Council prioritizes and approves projects for funding. Sixty percent of our annual research budget is allocated to this program.

> Learn more about the Research Priority Program

Scenic waterfall

Unsolicited Research Program

The Unsolicited Research Program funds novel, transformative research projects that can significantly advance the science of water and increase our ability to protect and preserve water in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. We also consider proposals that would take existing research to the next level of completion, resulting in practical solutions to water quality challenges. Our Board-appointed Research Advisory Council prioritizes and approves projects for funding. Ten percent of the WRF annual research budget is allocated to this program. This funding allocation will flow through each year, and the program launches every other year on even years (e.g., 2024) with the collective allocation.

> Learn more about the Unsolicited Research Program

Tailored Collaboration Program

Through the Tailored Collaboration Program, we partner directly with our utility subscribers on research and innovation. Under this program, a subscriber or group of subscribers can obtain up to $150,000 in matching funds for a research idea that they have developed. These ideas may be more specialized or regional in nature than those funded through our other research programs, but still have the potential for broader applicability. Projects in this program are approved by the Tailored Collaboration Review Committee. Twenty percent of our annual research budget is allocated to this program.

> Learn more about the Tailored Collaboration Program

Emerging Opportunities Program

The Emerging Opportunities Program makes it possible for us to sponsor time-critical research on emergent, high-priority subscriber issues. The program also allows us to commit funding for subscriber-relevant research ideas developed by approved partner organizations. Additionally, the program allows supplementary work (up to $25,000) to be added to ongoing projects. Individual projects are then approved for funding by the Board of Directors Executive Committee throughout the year, subject to need and available funding. In most cases, these projects are of relatively short duration (3–12 months) and typically range in value from $25K–$200K. Ten percent of our annual research budget is allocated to the Emerging Opportunities Program.

This is a staff-driven program. Those interested in submitting unsolicited proposals should refer to our Tailored Collaboration and Unsolicited Research Programs above.

> Learn more about the Emerging Opportunities Program

Facilitated Research Program

The Facilitated Research Program enables utility subscribers to tap into our expertise in research management, independent expert review, and project-specific procurement processes, as well as our long-standing, scientific credibility. Water utilities often require research to solve local, regional, or niche issues; we are available to manage these projects on an at-cost basis. Under this program, our services are fully funded by a specific utility or group of utilities. It is at the utilities discretion to make the research findings and products available to others, or to limit the findings to only the project team.

> View the Facilitated Research Proposal Instructions