DEEP: 2014 319 NPS Grant Requirements

Section 319 Nonpoint Source Grant Requirements for FY2014
 
 
Background
Section 319 of the federal Clean Water Act (§319) establishes a national program to control nonpoint sources (NPS) of water pollution.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines NPS pollution as that which is “caused by diffuse sources that are not regulated as point sources and are normally associated with precipitation and runoff from the land or percolation.” Under this definition stormwater runoff regulated under a variety of general permits in Connecticut including the MS4 Stormwater General Permit.  Proposals to mitigate pollution from stormwater may not be eligible for §319 project funding, specifically if the proposed activity is a condition of an individual or a general permit.  319 can fund projects which provide stormwater mitigation above and beyond what is required as a condition of permits.

The section 319 grant program has undergone a transition over the past several years and is now focused on developing and implementing watershed-based plans (WBP) designed to correct NPS related impairments, particularly those listed as impaired on the “State of Connecticut Integrated Water Quality Report" (IWQR) or subsequent revisions.  Plan development has been a priority in recent years.  Plan implementation, specifically where identified impairments can be significantly reduced, will take first priority in 2010 and beyond.
 
Past activities such as demonstration projects, manual and guidance development, monitoring and best management practice (BMP) installation to address isolated nonpoint sources, while still eligible for funding, must have a clear connection to the management goals and objectives of a WBP. These projects must also show progress towards water quality goal attainment in impaired waters and be part of an overall plan to attain water quality standards and criteria.  EPA has provided detailed guidance on WBP structure and content, building on comprehensive watershed management approaches essential to NPS management successes.  See requirements mentioned for Watershed Based Plans, in EPA's: Guidelines for States' Implementation of Nonpoint Source Management Programs under §319 of the Clean Water Act, covering FY 2004 and after.

Section 319(h) authorizes the EPA to award grants to states and tribes with EPA-approved NPS management programs in accordance with state goals and objectives for abating NPS pollution and consistent with EPA guidance for the program.  In Connecticut, the §319 program is administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (DEEP) Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse.  DEEP coordinates the state’s NPS program in cooperation with other federal, state, regional, and municipal government agencies and organizations under a wide range of statutory and regulatory authorities relevant to NPS control.  EPA approved Connecticut’s NPS Management Program in November 1999 (see Nonpoint Source Management Program).
 
Each year the DEEP issues a Request for Proposals (RFP) for projects to be funded through a competitive process under the §319 program.  Proposals may be submitted by any interested Connecticut public or private organization in accordance with the schedule below.
 
Schedule for FY2014 Proposals
 
Date Activity

September 30, 2013

Proposals are due to DEEP. 

October 2013

DEEP NPS review committee reviews, ranks, and selects potential projects for FY2014.

May 2014

EPA provides final funding allocation to DEEP

June 2014

DEEP sends out letters announcing which projects are selected for potential funding, with suggested changes for full project work plans and recommended funding level

June 2014

Project applicants submit final project work plans

July 2014

DEEP submits grant application and program workplan to EPA

September 2014

EPA approves §319 grant application and DEEP prepares contracts / memo of understanding with project applicants.

 
 
Program Priorities for FY2014
The priorities for the FY2014 program follow the enhancements required in Nonpoint Source Program and Grants Guidelines for States and Territories  issued in 2013, which implements the Watershed Based Planning (WBP) approach.  WBP emphasizes implementation projects, particularly those that correct documented NPS-related water quality impairments identified on the State of Connecticut Integrated Water Quality Report.  Chapter 3 of the IWQR is also known as “Connecticut Waterbodies Not Meeting Water Quality Standards” or "303(d)" list of impaired waters.  EPA guidance allows funding of other projects outside of a WBP, e.g., those that would develop implementation plans or complete Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) analyses, but the WBP approach is prioritized.  Funding limitations under 319, and the desire to meet national water quality improvement goals linked to 319-funded projects, further constrain projects to the WBP model.
 
DEEP will place highest priority on implementation projects in watersheds with identified impairments where Watershed Based Plans have been developed or are near completion.  These projects are likely to consume available planning and implementation funds for several years.  DEEP is also receptive to focused watershed based plan proposals that include in their applications an explanation of how the EPA 9 Elements will be addressed as well as proposals for corrective implementation activities.  Applicants should also consider incorporating key WBP criteria in their application for small scale implementation projects or for site-specific situations where causes of impairment and implementation needs are well known.
 
DEEP encourages applicants to submit proposals to implement management activities in the high priority basins where WBPs are completed or under development. Of interest are activities that meet three basic management needs: 1) Best Management Practice (BMP) applications that correct existing problems with a goal of correcting existing impairments; 2) projects that promote low impact development (LID) and related pollution prevention activities to prevent further degradation; and 3) projects that promote local investments, lifestyles and stewardship consistent with sound nonpoint source and watershed management and are self sustaining.
 
All WBPs will, upon completion, establish local watershed implementation teams or committees to implement the recommendations of the plans. These entities may be continuations of study teams established to develop WBPs.  Applicants are strongly urged to consult with both study and implementation teams or committees for the high priority watersheds identified above, by contacting DEEP Watershed Managers, to ensure their proposals are consistent with WBP implementation needs.
 
In addition to watershed-specific WBP implementation activities, DEEP is also soliciting projects that provide tools and services that may be more generically applied throughout the state. These may include site plan reviews, low impact development techniques, nutrient management planning, integrated pest/nutrient management, naturalistic landscaping, urban “green” practices, low-impact construction, etc. that promote goals and objectives of WBPs through education, implementation, and existing programmatic or regulatory modifications, particularly at the local level. However, these proposals should provide a definitive link to specific watershed impairments and show how they will contribute to WBP implementation.
 
Project Priorities for FY2014
Project priorities for FY 2014 will further stress implementation projects which lead to actual pollutant load reductions.  This includes projects which will directly address causes of Beach Closures. (see item 6 below)

1.  Management and restoration of water bodies with completed WBPs or WBPs under development in accordance with Program Priorities identified above.  DEEP has developed a DEEP Clean Water Act Grant Guidance Watershed Based Plan Checklist that will be required for grant recipients to receive DEEP Clean Water Act Funding for Watershed Based Plan development for years 2010 and beyond.  It will also be useful for authors of Plans funded in previous years to review and complete the checklist to help keep them on track to meet DEEP and EPA's expectations for Watershed Based Plan development.
 
2.  Management and restoration of water bodies on Connecticut’s section 303(d) list of impaired waters in the State of Connecticut Integrated Water Quality Report .  The document is a comprehensive listing of impaired surface waters located in Connecticut for which additional pollution controls or other management needs may be necessary to achieve Water Quality Standards.   If a WBP has not been completed or is not under development, applicants should briefly address as many of the nine elements of a WBP as possible (see (a) – (i), below) and frame the outcome of their proposal in terms of pollutant load reductions, leading to the restoration of water quality (see Table below for DEEP priorities and “Implementation Projects” under “Additional Information”, below).  This process is also known as preparing a  focused watershed based plan. 
 
3.  Developing WBPs, especially in the waterbodies specified below, but also for other waterbodies listed on the Impaired Waters List.
Applicants should be aware that limits on funding and the existing priority list may preclude funding additional WBP development in FY13. It is recommended that the appropriate DEEP Watershed Manager be consulted before investing in a WBP proposal.  Required components of a watershed-based plan include:
(a)  Identify causes and sources of impairment
(b)  Estimate expected load reductions
(c)  Describe needed NPS management measures
(d)  Estimate needed technical and financial assistance
(e)  Public information and education
(f)  Implementation schedule for NPS management measures
(g)  Measurable milestones
(h)  Performance criteria
(i)  Monitoring plan
 
4.  Projects to assist DEEP with the implementation of TMDLs for waterbodies listed on the Impaired Waters List.  These projects are best identified and proposals developed with forethought and communication with DEEP staff to ensure consistency and value with DEEP TMDL and Watershed Management priorities.
 
5.  Other types of activities to combat NPS pollution, especially installation of best management practices, but also including relevant activities such as outreach, education, and training unless linked to a WBP (See Program Priorities above for more detail on tool and service projects and WBP links).
 
6.  DEEP is looking for project proposals that help reduce fresh water swimming beach closures that result from excess bacteria, nutrients (by exacerbating cyanobacteria, as an example), or other water quality standard violations.
 
List of priority projects that DEEP is encouraging project proponents to submit for their watershed as noted in above table.(Priority Codes)
1. 303d Priority Watershed Based Plan implementation.  (high priority)
2. 303d Priority implementation:  focused WSBP efforts leading to small implementation projects, including project resulting from track down survey and/or streamwalk projects.  (high priority) 
3. TMDL Implementation.  (high priority)
4. Restoration projects, for waters which are not on the 303(d) list, but have a high potential of being listed next cycle.  (medium priority)
5. Augment existing watershed planning efforts to a Watershed Based Plan with future implementation in mind. (Individual project planning not to exceed $20-$30K)  (medium priority)
6. 303d Priority Watershed Based Plan development:  full WBP individual projects suggested average $75,000 - $120,000.  (low priority)
7. Non-303d Watershed Based Plan development.  (low priority)
8. Non-303d/non-TMDL implementation.  (low priority)
9. Other, i.e. establish a USGS monitoring station, etc (low priority)
 
Project Duration:
DEEP will generally limit project duration to a two year period, with rare options to extend to three years if justifiably needed for completion.  This is because of new EPA emphasis on closing out grants within two fiscal years of initiation.  Projects that are not promptly initiated or fall substantially behind schedule once underway may be considered for reprogramming to other 319 priority projects.   Consequently, DEEP suggests that potential grantees examine their needs for permits and other factors that may cause delays as early as possible before or once a project commences. 
 
Additional Projects:
 
TMDL Projects: DEEP has also established priorities for TMDL projects, including the following:
  • Projects involving monitoring of bacteria impaired water bodies; 
  • Lake monitoring projects to establish trophic conditions and/or nutrient loading; and 
  • Projects aimed at mitigating shellfishing impairments, eutrophication, and habitat loss (i.e. eelgrass, wetlands) of coastal and nearshore embayments.
These projects are applicable to waterbodies included on the "List of Connecticut Water bodies Not Meeting Water Quality Standards".
 
Statewide Implementation Projects: For implementation projects not covered under a WBP, investigators should be familiar enough with the selected watershed to be ready to document benefits, usually in terms of pollutant load reduction or attainment of water quality standards, of the proposed Best Management Practices (BMP’s). Consideration should be given to including the Nine Elements of a Watershed Based Plan in the project proposal to strengthen the application.  These projects should be capable of being implemented with a minimum of planning and investigators should show that application of the selected BMPs will result in demonstrable improvements in water quality that contribute to the resolution of the problem identified on the Impaired Waterbody list.  If the proposed FY2014 activity is part of a multi-year or phased project, whether implementing a WBP or not, applicants shall provide rough estimates of the complete cost of remediating the impairment of the project waterbody.  DEEP is receptive to a phased approach, with each year’s funding allotment representing an individual phase. However, applicants should recognize that each year or phase of funding will be competitive –DEEP does not automatically agree to fund future phases by committing to the initial phase.  Proponents shall establish a schedule for the additional phases and costs needed to complete the job, which will be considered in the evaluation of the FY2014 portion.  For examples of some of the projects that have been funded in the past see Connecticut DEEP Nonpoint Source Pollution Projects
 
Non Structural Implementation
DEEP intends to continue to support these lower priority activities as available funding allows, but at a substantially reduced portion of total grant funding than in past years. These types of projects will rank higher when they are paired with implementation projects. 
  • Monitoring and Assessment Projects:  DEEP has used §319 funds to support projects for monitoring, modeling, assessment, nonpoint source pollution trackdown studies and water quality management relevant to the control of nonpoint source pollution.
  • Watershed or Statewide Education and Outreach Projects Demonstration, habitat restoration, technical assistance, public outreach, education and involvement, and watershed management relevant to the control of nonpoint source pollution.  
 
Additional Information
Technical Assistance and Regulatory Guidance:  It is not within the purview of the Planning & Standards Division to provide technical assistance or regulatory guidance on project proposals.  For this, a request and submission must be made to the applicable regulatory programs.
 
Permitting Requirements:  The following permits, registration or authorizations may be required from the Department (in addition to your local approvals), but may not be limited to:
 
  • Water Diversion Permit
  • Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 Water Quality Certification, if a CWA Section 404 Discharge Permit is required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Stream Channel Encroachment Lines Permit
  • General Permit for the Discharge of Groundwater Remediation Wastewater Directly to Surface Water; or possibly a National Pollutant
     
  • Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Surface Water Discharge Permit
  • General Permit for Diversion of Remediation Groundwater
     
    Applicable policies, guidelines and regulations may include:
    • Water Diversion Regulations
    • CT Water Quality Standards and Criteria
    • List of Connecticut Waterbodies Not Meeting Water Quality Standards and subsequent revisions
    • Remediation Standards
    • General Conditions Applicable to Water Discharge Permits and Procedures and Criteria for Issuing Water Discharge Permits
    For further information on permitting and policies, guidelines and regulations, if applicable to your proposed project, please contact the following DEEP staff:
     
    Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse:
    Inland Water Resources Division
    • Robert Gilmore (860) 424-3866
    • Jennifer Perry (860) 424-3802
    Remediation Division
    • Thomas Riscassi (860) 424-3781
     
    Stormwater Projects: DEEP will consider projects to eliminate or reduce stormwater runoff whose activities are not requirements of CT’s Stormwater General Permit program established pursuant to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase 2 Stormwater Rule.  For clarification, contact Chris Stone (860) 424-3850
     
    Pollutant Load Reduction Reporting: As part of EPA’s Grant Reporting and Tracking System (GRTS), DEEP requires grantees to provide pollutant load reduction estimates for all NPS implementation projects.  The grantee will also be responsible for providing an initial assessment to DEEP in a prescribed format.  If cost effective, the grantee may want to also consider field monitoring to strengthen final pollutant reduction data from implementation projects.
     
    Other Nonpoint Source Funding:  DEEP may occasionally fund projects with additional sources of State and Federal funding, based upon ranked priority lists generated from 319 project proposals received through this process.  For other potential funding sources see: 
  •  
    Additional Contacts:
    Watershed Managers: DEEP recommends that applicants consult with DEEP’s Watershed Managers before proposing any TMDL or watershed-based planning or implementation project.  Please contact the appropriate manager listed below for your geographic area:
  • Western Coastal, Central Coastal, and Connecticut Mainstem Manager: Chris Malik (860) 424-3959
  • Housatonic and Farmington Manager: Susan Peterson (860) 424-3854
  • Eastern Coastal, Thames, Salmon, and Eight Mile Manager: Eric Thomas (860) 424-3548
  • Contact DEEP TMDL Staff at (860) 424-3735 for additional information regarding TMDL projects.
     
     
    Content last updated: October 14, 2014