Carmen Group is a full-service bipartisan government relations firm. Over the course of 25 years, we have built a record that rivals anyone in the industry, helping countless local government agencies navigate the often complicated process of winning Federal funding through appropriations and authorizations, as well as internally through the agencies. Where the bureaucratic hurdles have become burdensome and imposing, we have developed innovative agreements and resolutions with Federal agencies that open the door for our public agency clients to move their projects through. Our high level project managers work closely with our clients to formulate and implement an effective strategy specifically tailored to the client’s needs, and which result in real traction in Washington.
Carmen Group’s unique experience and success in water resources and environmental issues spans major flood protection agencies, water supply districts, metropolitan and urban water management districts, small cities, state environmental restoration departments, state water resources departments, and water conservation districts, open space districts and water reclamation districts.
We have a strong and very powerful national presence that has allowed us to become intimately familiar with water issues, be they California water recycling, Texas ecosystem restoration, or East Coast water quality issues.
We continue to maintain broad expertise in the public water resources and environmental restoration arena that allows us to achieve significant results for clients ranging from Washington, DC to Washington State and from Illinois to Nevada.
We have been successful for many years in appropriations bills securing funding within the agencies’ discretion, and are continuously working to secure authorizations for Corps of Engineers projects in the multi-year Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), in which we secured authorizations for over $1 Billion for our clients’ projects. And of course, we are also working with authorization bills on water recycling, water quality, water infrastructure, and natural resource issues, too.
Following are a few examples of Carmen Group’s signature accomplishments in the areas of water resources and environmental restoration:
California Coastal Conservancy
Carmen Group worked to develop a multi-faceted strategy to obtain the necessary approvals to amend an existing authorization for a significant wetland restoration project. This added considerable additional acreage to be restored, resulting in a near doubling of the size of the project area. The previously existing Corps of Engineers project sought to restore approximately 1,000 acres of habitat. Professionals at Carmen Group utilized their deep understanding of the legislative process to include a provision in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 that increased the project area to be restored by 1500 acres. This successfully authorized project was one of the largest environmental projects authorized in the 2007 bill, with a total project authorization of $228.1 million. Carmen Group also successfully secured significant appropriations for the project, including $14.25 million in FY 2010 and $42.5 million in federal funding received to date. Additionally, we succeeded in having the project included in the Administration’s FY 2011 budget request for $20 million.
- Authorized: $228.1 million
- Funding: $42.5 million
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago
Carmen Group developed a multi-objective strategy for addressing needs for budget, authorization, appropriations, and Federal contract approvals for the $3 billion Tunnel and Reservoirs Plan to combat combined sewer overflows in the Chicago land area and provide for a restored Lake Michigan, the source of the City's drinking water supply. The Carmen team worked with the House leadership and the Illinois Congressional delegation to increase the Federal budget funding for two reservoirs providing 15 billion gallons of storage for flood protection, storm water management, and water pollution prevention for over 3 million people. Based on a positive value engineering study, which reduced total costs significantly, thus raising the benefit to cost ratio, we made the District’s case with key Members of Congress and the White House, which resulted in the Corps and OMB agreeing with our position and securing 3 times the level of budget funding ever received for this project. In a no-earmark Corps’ Work Plan scenario for FY'11, the Carmen team worked with the congressional delegation and Corps leadership to increase the budgeted level by 80% resulting in the largest funding award for a project within the state of Illinois.
Santa Clara Valley Water District
Carmen Group worked closely with this progressive central California water resources agency to revive a long-stalled comprehensive flood protection project that not only will provide flood protection but also will create a treasured community resource through the environmental restoration components included in the project. Seeing opportunity in the stimulus bill months in advance, Carmen Group encouraged the District to update and prepare this project, which had not seen federal attention in a decade, for consideration of funds provided by the stimulus bill. We worked with District leadership to create a compelling business case for the project. Upon sharing this information with the District’s Congressional delegation, Carmen Group professionals worked to raise the profile of this USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) project at the State and National level. We met with key leadership in NRCS Headquarters to review expected project progress and the range of local benefits that would be realized upon completion of project work. Utilizing our Proven Process and unparalleled industry knowledge, over the period of a few months time, we successfully secured $20.75 million in funds for this project, thus reviving a long-stalled project the District had all but lost hope in pursuing. This was the largest economic stimulus award from the USDA to a flood protection project. Last year alone, we secured over $95 million in funding for the Water District’s federally partnered projects.
- Funding: $20.75 million
- Funding: $95 million
Carmen Group has worked closely with Napa County, California, over the last 12 years to address a wide range of needs resulting from the historic flooding of the Napa River. The successful strategy and campaign we developed resulted in reshaping what had been an unacceptable flood control project with 15-foot-high concrete walls into an innovative Federal project that coupled 100-year environmentally-sensitive flood protection with the creation of over 700 acres of tidal wetlands and significant recreational benefits. We worked with the highest levels of the Administration to secure approval of the $250 million project through multiple agency agreements, which, among other things, included early reimbursement to the County. We are now working to obtain significant Federal construction dollars for project implementation. To date, we have helped the California Congressional delegation secure over $170 million for project construction, including securing $100 million, the largest single award from the Corps for a flood protection project, from the stimulus legislation. This is now considered the premier multiple-purpose flood protection project for the Corps of Engineers in the country.
San Antonio River Authority
Based on a powerful and unique authorization developed by the Carmen team, the San Antonio River Authority secured over $60 million in reimbursement authority for the $250 million Mission Reach Ecosystem Restoration Project – the largest ecosystem reimbursement authority in the state of Texas. After turning the Corps of Engineers process upside-down by putting the Carmen client, the San Antonio River Authority, squarely in the lead to aggressively construct the project rather than the Corps and its slow pace, the Carmen team helped negotiate the unique contract with Corps Headquarters providing for advanced local construction and reimbursement provisions. Through Carmen project management expertise, we worked closely with the client and Pentagon lawyers to develop protocols for how the client would advance the project construction, and for development of the reimbursement process. We negotiated with Corps Headquarters to have them accept the concept that every dollar appropriated to the project would stay with the project, through agency audits, and flow to the client despite budgetary pressures to reprogram dollars away. The Authority then executed on the concept that our streamlined approach would bring efficiencies to the system by saving the Federal Government $25 million on the client’s first contract award, thus proving the marketplace argument for the Members and the Corps.
- Funding: $61 million in reimbursement authority
Washington National Cathedral
The Washington National Cathedral is a national historic icon that is in danger of falling into disrepair. Unlike most national landmarks, the Cathedral has never sought federal support for its mission. A wide range of infrastructure needs were identified by the Cathedral, and through the development of a detailed strategic plan, Carmen Group matched those needs with appropriate federal programs. Separation of Church and State made the Cathedral ineligible for many federal programs that otherwise could provide the necessary funding for upkeep.
Carmen Group worked with the Washington National Cathedral to secure competitive federal funding to ensure the Cathedral does not fall into disrepair by identifying a National Park Service grant program (Save America’s Treasures) that could provide funding for historic churches. Carmen Group worked closely with the Cathedral to amend its Historic Register nomination to correctly list the Cathedral as nationally significant to be eligible to compete for funding. Carmen Group drafted the Cathedral’s winning grant application and secured Congressional support.