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State Water Boards: Nonpoint Source Program

Non-Point Source (NPS) Grant Program - Clean Water Act (CWA) §319(h) & Timber Regulation and Forest Restoration funds

Program Background | Concept Proposal | Full Proposal | Eligible Projects | Ineligible Projects

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Annually, the California Nonpoint Source (NPS) Grant Program allocates Clean Water Act section 319(h) (CWA Section 319[h]) (CWA §319(h)) funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.EPA) to support projects that implement full scale, on-the-ground management measures or practices in alignment with the watershed-based plans to address water quality problems in surface water and groundwater resulting from NPS pollution. The goal of these projects is to restore water bodies. Projects are required to be; (1) located in a watershed that has a nine-element watershed-based plan that may rely on an adopted/nearly adopted Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) (e.g., adopted by the Regional Water Board) and a suite of plans that together meet the requirements of a nine-element watershed-based plan (see Appendix 1 of the Solicitation Notice); and (2) identified in the Regional Water Board's NPS Program Preferences List (Program Preference) (Section I of the Program Guidelines). Projects focused on working toward achieving the goals of the TMDL to restore beneficial uses will be the most competitive in the selection process.

In addition and new for the 2016 NPS Grant Program, the 2015-2016 California Budget Act appropriated Timber Regulation and Forest Restoration Fund (Timber Fund) to fund existing restoration grant programs. The Timber Funds will fund projects that implement forest management measures on 'forest lands' to improve water quality.

Project proposals are selected through a two-phase statewide solicitation process - the concept proposal phase and the full proposal phase. This is a single solicitation for CWA 319(h) and Timber Fund proposals but process and schedule for each may differ. The application process is facilitated through the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST) operated by the State Water Resources Control Board’s (State Water Board) Division of Financial Assistance. The two-phase process, including development and approval of the final list of recommended funding projects by the State Water Board Executive Director, takes approximately ten months. Typically, the solicitation process for a NPS grant runs from August (of the previous year) through April when the CWA 319(h) funding is received from the U.S.EPA. For more information, see the current NPS Grant Program Solicitation.

Concept Proposal Phase

In the concept proposal phase, the applicant is addresses specific questions developed by the NPS Grant Program. Answers to these questions how the project (1) conforms to the priority implementation actions identified in the applicable nine-element watershed-based plan (and TMDL); (2) coordinates with other related water quality improvement efforts in the watershed; (3) implements nine-element watershed-based plan actions that achieve the water quality goals of the watershed; and (4) is identified as a priority in the NPS Program Preference List. Instructions for submitting a concept proposal are available in the Solicitation Notice.

The applications are then reviewed by a panel consisting of representatives from each of the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Water Board), State Water Board, and U.S.EPA (Review Panel). The Review Panel selects the concept proposal applicants that will be asked to submit an expanded proposal in the full proposal phase. A list of concept proposals invited back to submit a full proposal will available on the current NPS Grant Program webpage after the concept proposals are selected.

Based on the quality of the concept proposal, Timber Fund proposals may be invited directly into the Grant Agreement development process.

Full Proposal Phase

The full proposal phase consists of submitting additional and expanded information through a series of required attachments and tables outlined in the full proposal Solicitation Notice. The full proposal must include the following project information: (1) response to comments; (2) a detailed Scope of Work with schedule; (3) Project Assessment & Evaluation Plan (PAEP) table; (4) complete nine-element watershed-based plan table;(5) detailed budget broken out by both task and line item; and (6) commitment letters from the entities providing
the required match consistent with the Program Guidelines.

The full proposal submittal requirements can be found in the current full proposal Solicitation Notice and accompanying attachments to be updated on the NPS Grants Program Solicitation webpage after the concept proposals. The full proposals are then reviewed and ranked by the Review Panel and a list of recommended projects is sent to the State Water Board Executive Director for approval. The recommended list of funding projects will be available on the NPS Grant Program webpage after the projects have been approved by the State Water Board Executive Director.

Eligible Projects

In general, to be eligible for NPS grant funding, projects must meet the following requirements:

  • Address one or more of the NPS Program Preferences (section I of the NPS Grant Guidelines) identified by the NPS Grant Program.
  • Be located in a watershed that has a plan or suite of plans that meet the nine-element watershed-based plan (see Appendix 1);
  • Provide the minimum required match consistent with the Program Guidelines. A waiver of match is available for Disadvantaged Communities (see Appendix 4);
  • Be located in an area not subject to a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit (note: projects are not subject to this requirement if the project activity is specifically excluded/exempted from the requirements of the NPDES permit.); and
  • Implement forest management measures on ‘forest lands’ (specific requirement for Timber Funds)

In addition to be eligible the applicants must work with the appropriate Regional Water Board Grant Contact when developing their proposals. Grant contacts are identified in the current NPS Grant Solicitation Attachment 2.

Ineligible Projects

In general, ineligible projects for NPS grant funding are those that:

  • Are not a Program Preference;
  • Are in areas that are under or affiliated with a NPDES Permit;
  • Address an issue in a land use included in a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4s) Permit; or
  • Include any requirements, including mitigation of a project proponent or applicant, as a condition of any permit required by the Forest Practice Act and Forest Practice Rules. However, Working Forest Management Plans or Non-industrial Timber Management Plans will not be summarily denied on the basis that the project is a required condition of the plan.

For more details on eligibility, see the current NPS Grant Program webpage.

The 2016 NPS Grant Request for Proposal Solicitation will be available in August.