DEEP Section 319 Request for Proposals for Non-Point Source Pollution

General Eligibility and Focus

As of November 15, 2022, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is accepting proposals for the Federal Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23)  Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source (NPS) Grant Program.  Section 319 of the Federal Clean Water Act is a grant program to address NPS water pollution.  DEEP receives funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Section 319 grants that can be passed onto communities, local conservation groups, and other organizations for NPS implementation projects, plans, and statewide NPS management efforts within Connecticut. Proposals may be submitted by any interested public or private organization (award recipients must be registered with the CT Secretary of State).

EPA defines NPS pollution as pollution that is "caused by diffuse sources that are not regulated as point sources and are normally associated with land use and runoff from the land." Common NPS pollutants include: bacteria, nutrients, sediment, salt, petroleum products, heavy metals, pesticides, and debris.  These pollutants are typically carried by stormwater runoff into streams, lakes, and estuaries from diffuse land use and other activities that are not regulated as point source discharges ("end of pipe"). Projects intended to meet mandated requirements of stormwater permits are not eligible for Section 319 grants.  However, proposals that provide stormwater mitigation above and beyond permit requirements may be considered.

Section 319 grants have a 40% non-federal match requirement for each awarded grant; see additional details in the Non-federal Matching Funds section below.

The application for the Section 319 NPS Grant Program is linked here:

DEEP Section 319 Grant Application

The application for FY23 proposals must be submitted to DEEP by the February 9, 2023 deadline. Proposals should be submitted by email to DEEP.watershed@ct.gov

Project Priorities for FY23

*NEW* Environmental Justice and Environmental Equity

The Section 319 NPS Grant program is committed to DEEP’s NPS efforts and awareness of NPS environmental problems in environmental justice communities. In Connecticut, an environmental justice community is defined as a census block group with 30% or more of a low-income population OR a distressed municipality (details can be found on Public Act 20-6). Additional information can be found on DEEP’s Environmental Justice website AND the federal census website.

As such, applications for proposed work within a designated environmental justice community will be  considered a priority during the competitive review process. Applicants can determine where the environmental justice communities are in Connecticut by viewing the Connecticut environmental justice communities map.

For the competitive review process, the applicants should use the map to identify percentages for minority, poverty level and/or limited English proficiency within the environmental justice community.

Non-federal Matching Funds

Demonstrating match from non-federal sources is an important component for the Section 319 NPS Grant program and EPA requires a 40% match for each award. Applications that include financial or in-kind contributions will demonstrate a commitment to the project that is considered by DEEP and recognized in the competitive review process. 

Applicants should demonstrate a goal of at least 40% match in their application. Applicants that cannot achieve this match goal due to financial burden should contact DEEP.Watershed@ct.gov, well in advance of the RFP deadline.

Watershed Based Plan Implementation Projects

DEEP will prioritize funds for larger, contiguous projects rather than funding many smaller, un-related projects. Project priorities will continue to stress implementation projects in watersheds that have approved Watershed Based Plans (WBP) which lead to targeted pollutant load reductions and/or restoring impaired waters.  Implementation projects should have a clear connection to the management goals and objectives of the WBP and show progress towards attaining water quality goals. Such implementation projects may include but are not limited to: habitat improvements, dam removal, improved stormwater runoff management, and improved agricultural practices.

Implementation Projects Not Associated with Watershed Based Plans

DEEP may consider implementation projects that are not connected to an existing WBP, but the project should target an impaired water(see State of Connecticut Integrated Water Quality Report). Applicants must be able to document benefits toward pollutant load reduction and attainment of water quality standards. For implementation projects not covered under a WBP, applicants may be required to document how the 9-Elements of the Watershed Based Planning process will be addressed. 

Watershed Based Plan Development 

DEEP will focus on WBP development for impaired waters which are prioritized in DEEP’s Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM).  WBP development is considered an Action Plan in the IWRM strategy. DEEP may consider WBP development for impaired waterbodies that are not identified by DEEP’s IWRM strategy (see State of Connecticut Integrated Water Quality Report).  DEEP may also consider a WBP proposal when the impairment is not specific to a pollutant, or when addressing a small scale water quality problem, or for development of a protection plan as a Healthy Watershed Based Plan (see DEEP WBP website). EPA has provided detailed guidance on WBP structure and content (see EPA requirements and guidance).

Project Requirements

Note: The following items are strongly recommended for consideration by the applicant when planning a project budget and timeline.
 

EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 Grant Requirements

The proposals must comply with the Nonpoint Source Program and Grants Guidelines for States and Territories issued on April 12, 2013.

Grant Reporting Tracking System (GRTS) and Pollutant Load Reduction Estimates

For all 319 grants, the grant recipients (grantees) will be required to complete a spreadsheet for the EPA Grant Reporting Tracking System (GRTS). A grantee will accomplish this task by completing and submitting the GRTS worksheet to DEEP electronically. A copy of the GRTS worksheet is available on the Nonpoint Source Management site

Pollution Load Reductions Estimates for GRTS

For implementation projects that involve constructing structural best management practices (BMPs):

  • The grantee will provide the pollutant load reduction estimates for each BMP(s) after construction.
  • The grantee will identify which pollutants and their respective units of measure will be calculated for each constructed BMP.
  • The grantee will consider and specify the method to estimate the load reductions such as: site-specific calculations, peer-reviewed literature or a publicly available model (models such as the Watershed Treatment Model or EPA PLET model for estimating Pollutant Load Reductions). The GRTS spreadsheet assists grantees to provide pollutant load reduction estimates that are required for all NPS implementation projects.
*NEW* Federal Build America, Buy America (BABA) Act

As of 2022, implementation projects funded under the Section 319 NPS Grant program must follow the federal Build America, Buy America (BABA) requirements. For recipients of Section 319 NPS Grant funds, EPA’s website explains that grantees should “…to the greatest extent practicable under a Federal award, provide a preference for the purchase, acquisition, or use of goods, products, or materials produced in the United States.” Applicants and grantees must consider their options and impacts to budget items for their proposal and project, respectively. For additional information see EPA’s website.

NPS Site Report and Operation & Maintenance Plan (O&M)

For projects that involve constructing structural BMPs, the grantee will be responsible for completing a NPS Site Report and an O&M Plan(s). Additionally, an O&M Plan will be required for each constructed structural BMP and/or project site. The plan will identify the responsible party(s) for ensuring the practices are regularly maintained and continue to function for the expected lifespan to reduce NPS pollution at target reduction level(s). The grantee will also be required to review the O&M documents with the responsible party(s) and provide appropriate training. DEEP will provide a format for the NPS Site Report and O&M plan as part of the grant agreement.

Funding Acknowledgement

For all Section 319 grants, the grantee will be required to provide credit to the 319 NPS Grant Program with any publication distributed or sign produced or any publicity conducted for the project. For projects that involve structural implementation, the grantee will be required and responsible for providing onsite signage to identify the project and provide credit to the 319 NPS Grant Program. The onsite signage will require approval by DEEP and EPA prior to installation.

Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP)

For projects that are collecting, analyzing or manipulating data, the grantee will be required to develop a QAPP for DEEP and EPA approval. The QAPP must be approved before any data-related work can occur. The grantee should account for the QAPP development and approval process when planning the project timeline. See EPA guidance for a QAPP.

*NEW* Data Entry for EPA’s Water Quality Exchange (WQX)

WQX is a web-based portal to submit water monitoring data to EPA. For any grantee that is collecting water monitoring data with Section 319 funds, the grantee is required to ensure the data and metadata are submitted to WQX before the expiration of the DEEP grant agreement. DEEP staff may be able to offer assistance and see further details at EPA's WQX website.

Other Details

*NEW* Project Stakeholders

DEEP encourages the applicant/grantee to work with local communities, groups, property owners and/or municipalities in all aspects of the proposal/project. Local knowledge and assistance can be invaluable to achieving overall project success as well as future implementation opportunities. It is recommended the applicant/grantee consider a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or similar agreement to ensure commitment from all or specific project partners.

Multi-year Projects

If the proposed project is a multi-year or phased project, applicants should provide rough estimates of the complete cost of restoring the water body. DEEP will consider 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 committing to the initial phase does not automatically guarantee funding in future phases. Applicants shall establish a schedule for the additional phases and costs needed to complete the project, which will be considered in the proposal evaluation for this fiscal year.

Grant Agreement

DEEP will notify the selected grantees after receiving grant approval from EPA, which is typically the summer after the RFP has closed. DEEP will work with each grantee to develop a grant agreement (contract) for the project. The process to establish a signed grant agreement is lengthy, and any project work cannot be paid for until a signed grant agreement is established. The grantee should account for the ample time needed to develop and approve the grant agreement when planning the project timeline.

Project Duration

DEEP will generally limit the project duration to a two-year contract period (longer terms for completion of larger, more complex projects would be at the discretion of DEEP).  DEEP recommends that applicants examine their needs for permits and other factors that may cause delays as early as possible. Funding for projects that are not promptly initiated or fall substantially behind schedule may be considered for reprogramming to other Section 319 priority projects.

Questions

Any questions for the CT DEEP Section 319 NPS Grant Program should be submitted by email to DEEP.watershed@ct.gov

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Content Last Updated November 16, 2022