Abandoned Watercraft Abatement Fund (AWAF)

Grant applications (normally due by April 30th) are temporarily not being accepted until further notice. New information is currently in progress. Thank you for your patience.


DBW is pleased to announce the NEW combination grant, the Surrendered and Abandoned Vessel Exchange (SAVE). This grant is available to local public agencies applying for both of the Abandoned Watercraft and Abatement Fund (AWAF) and Vessel Turn-In Program (VTIP) grants. The SAVE combines these two effective grants into one, providing the convenience of a single grant to manage, and allowing the flexibility to use the SAVE grant funds interchangeably for AWAF and VTIP issues. If your agency applies for both grants, you will automatically receive the SAVE grant. If applying only for the AWAF or VTIP, consider the SAVE. The option to handle both situations gives your agency the best flexibility.

Abandoned Watercraft and Abatement Fund (AWAF)

In October of 1997, Senate Bill 172 (Rainey) created the Abandoned Watercraft Abatement Fund (AWAF). It provides funds to public agencies to remove, store, and dispose of abandoned, wrecked, or dismantled vessels or any other partially submerged objects which pose a substantial hazard to navigation, from navigable waterways or adjacent public property, or private property with the landowner's consent.

As part of its commitment to provide clean, safe and enjoyable recreational boating on California's waterways, the Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) administers this statewide program. It allows public local agencies to apply for funding and, upon approval, enter into a contract grant agreement with DBW.

How to apply for an AWAF Grant?

  1. LETTER OF INTENT: On your agency's letterhead, title this page "Letter of Intent" and include the following information:
    1. Statement of Need: Briefly explain existing or historical abandoned vessel (AV) problems and state the amount of anticipated costs for any specific issues and/or estimated need.
    2. Plan of Action: Explain your agency's experience pertaining to abandoned vessels and detail the procedures followed regarding identifying abandoned vessels, removal, storage, lien sales and salvage.
    1. Complete the Grant Application. Note: the contact person is the individual representing your agency and will be DBW's direct contact who will address ALL questions and concerns on behalf of the grantee.
    2. Complete the Questionnaire: Answer questions, and complete and sign the bottom section of the page.

      Agencies interested in applying for an AWAF grant must submit a completed application packet by April 30 to:

      E-mail: Susan Sykes, Vessel Abatement Programs Analyst
      Call: (916) 327-1825
        One Capitol Mall, Suite 500
        Sacramento, CA 95814

Sinking Boat
Who is eligible?

Public local agencies that have jurisdiction over navigable waterways in California and meet the application assessment criteria are eligible.

Can a private marina receive an AWAF grant?

While a private marina cannot directly received a grant under the AWAF program, they can work through a public local agency to secure a grant to abate an abandoned vessel in their marina. Section 525(d)(1)(A) of the Harbors and Navigation Code states:

“Moneys in the fund shall be used exclusively, upon appropriation by the Legislature, for grants to be awarded by the division to local agencies for the abatement, removal, storage, and disposal as public nuisances of any abandoned property as described in Section 522 or for the disposal of surrendered vessels as defined in Section 526.1, wrecked or dismantled vessels, or parts thereof, or any other partially submerged objects that pose a substantial hazard to navigation, from navigable waterways or adjacent public property, or private property with the landowner’s consent.”

This section clearly indicates that grants must be awarded to public local agencies. Those agencies may use such grant funds to remove vessels from navigable waterways, or adjacent public property, or private property with landowner's consent. Furthermore, this section does not differentiate, limit, or restrict how the law is applied to private property; as long as the abandoned vessel in a private marina qualifies generally under the law, a public local agency may apply for grant funding to remove that vessel.

What does the grant cover and are there any special requirements?

The grant covers average costs to remove, store and/or dispose of abandoned vessels and other navigational hazards. Extra consideration will be given to applicant agencies that are proactive in keeping abandoned vessels off California's waters and that maintain a navigational hazard abatement plan. Note: The removal of commercial vessels is not reimbursable. Resources for commercial vessels may be available through CalRecycle or State Lands Commission.

DBW reimburses grantees for actual expenditures once a written request is submitted for completed work. Grantees must substantiate such requests by submitting the Reimbursement Claim Form and invoices to DBW, which must include (in triplicate) all receipts, invoices, and other instruments of proof of payment. Photos of vessels or other navigational hazards must be provided including CF number or other identifying information if possible.

What will it cost?

A grant awarded by DBW shall be matched by a 10-percent contribution from the local agency receiving the grant. AWAF recipients are required to expend their 10-percent contribution before receiving reimbursement from the AWAF program. The contribution may be rendered in cash, or through in-kind contributions which must be verified, and are at the discretion of DBW. These contributions may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Administrative costs
  • Personnel hours
  • Removal
  • Storage

Previously, DBW required that a Water Hazard Removal List (WHRL) and Photo Log be included with the application. These are no longer required to be included with the grant request.

Can the public local agency be reimbursed for an abandoned watercraft they have already removed, stored, and/or disposed?

No. Work cannot commence nor expenses incurred prior to an approved grant agreement being in place.

What are the grantees responsibilities under the grant program?

  • The GRANTEE must comply with California law regarding titles and liens in conjunction with each vessel, including those provisions set forth in the Harbors and Navigation Code Chapter 3, Article 1 regarding wrecked and salvaged vessels.
  • The GRANTEE must secure bids from vendors through the competitive bid process to select a contractor / subcontractor to perform the work defined in their contract grant agreement.
  • The GRANTEE, subject to DBW approval, must ensure that all employees, subcontractors, and salvage companies are qualified and adequately insured to perform work within the scope of the grant agreement.
  • The GRANTEE is responsible for securing any studies, permits, or authorizations associated with treatment, removal, storage, disposal, or any other handling of hazardous substances including but not limited to toxic waste, petroleum waste, asbestos, and like substances prior to the removal of any vessel.
  • The GRANTEE is responsible for the proper and legal disposal or recycling of vessels, parts of any vessels, materials, fluids, petroleum products, and associated chemicals.

In addition, please see Sections 511-527 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, specifically, Sections 525 and 527 regarding the grant program.


Use the following information only to appeal the denial of an application.

Contact the Acting Deputy Director of the Division at:

E-mail: Jared Zucker, Administrative Liaison to the Acting Deputy Director
Call: (888) 326-2822
Write: Colonel Christopher C. Conlin, USMC (Ret), Acting Deputy Director
  One Capitol Mall, Suite 410
  Sacramento, CA 95814