Governmental entities in Florida, including state agencies, local governments and special districts, public universities or colleges, water management districts and national estuary programs. See section 287.012(14), Florida Statutes (F.S.), for the definition of a governmental entity.
What types of grants are available and how much funding is available annually?
The Nonpoint Source Management Program administers federal and state grant funding for projects that reduce pollution from nonpoint sources, particularly to address impaired waterbodies and meet restoration goals related to TMDLs and restoration plans. There are no set maximum or minimum funding request caps per project but be aware we may not be able to fully fund your project request since these funds are distributed statewide.
State funding - approximately $5 million is appropriated annually to the department through the Florida legislature for our State Water-quality Assistance Grant (SWAG). This funding is intended for “shovel ready” capital improvement construction projects treating waters not attaining standards (i.e., impaired).
Federal funding - approximately $6 million is awarded annually to the department by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act. The grant stipulates that a minimum of 50% (~$3 million) of the state’s grant funds must go towards projects that implement adopted EPA-approved nine element Watershed Based Plans (WBPs), e.g., Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) or Reasonable Assurance Plans (RA Plans). The remaining 50% or less of the funding is not limited to projects that implement the BMAPs but are mostly used by the state administratively to run the grant program, therefore these funds are more limited for project use.
What kinds of projects are eligible for grant funds?
Examples of fundable projects or programs include, but are not limited to:
Nonpoint source pollution reduction in priority watersheds (i.e., areas with Water Quality Restoration Plan(s), treatment of impaired waters, etc.).
Ground water protection from nonpoint sources.
Public education programs on nonpoint source management (319h Grant only).
Septic to sewer projects, including(319h Grant only).
Laying the lateral from the residence/business to the main sewer line.
Connection to sewer line.
Installing a grinding station [if on the resident’s property].
Abandonment of the septic if the remaining septic tank is a continued source of pollution.
While it is important to identify all project components being requested under both the grant and match funds so that the project can be fully evaluated, each submitted proposed project will be categorized into one of the following general categories for evaluation:
Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems (OSTDSs or "septic systems");
Water Quality Monitoring Only (of installed nonpoint source BMPs);
Nonpoint Source Education Only;
Hydrologic Restoration; or
Other Water Quality.
The proposed project will also be categorized by its sub-category(ies), which include: Urban Stormwater Runoff; Treatment Train; Erosion Control; Low Impact Development (LID)/Green Infrastructure; Indirect impact to coastal waters; Direct impact to coastal waters; Protection of Unimpaired Water(s); Protection of Groundwater; Education – LID/Green Infrastructure; Education – Nonpoint source pollution; Education – OSTDS; Education – Florida Friendly Landscaping; Education – Waterfront Property Owners; OSTDS Septic Tank Abandonment; OSTDS Connecting Property Owners to Sewer, not including main line installation; OSTDS Inspection and Education; and OSTDS Inventory/Update of DOH Database.
My project example, category or subcategory is not listed, is it eligible for nonpoint source grant funding?
Contact the grant coordinator to discuss your project details to determine funding eligibility. If your project is not eligible for these grants, check out these other funding sources. Please note that neither of these resources is an exhaustive list of all project funding opportunities.
When are funds available and for how long are they available?
This depends on whether the project receives state funding through the State Water Quality Assistance Grant or federal funding through EPA's Section 319h Grant. Note, the application is the same for both and the department selects the type of funding a project receives.
State funding is available after July 1, which is the start of the state's fiscal year (FY) after legislative appropriation. The duration these funds are available is about three years, commonly referred to as the "grant period." However, with good reason, this money can be "certified forward" (i.e., extended) by the department at the end of each fiscal year after the original grant period has passed. Note, when the department refers to state's fiscal year 2020 or "SFY20" that is the period from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.
Because the state must apply for the federal grant for the following federal fiscal year, there is a longer lead time before federal funding is available for projects. It generally takes about 1-1/2 years from the time a project proposal is submitted to the Department before the money is available. Proposals are usually submitted in spring, selected by the department by the end of summer, submitted to EPA in the fall, and awarded to DEP the following summer/fall.
State fiscal year and federal fiscal year are different. "Federal FY2019" refers to the federal fiscal year starting Oct. 1, 2019 and ending Sept. 30, 2020. Grant and match-funded work must be completed by the end of a 3-year grant period that ends on the last day of that federal fiscal year after three years.
To pull this all together in an example - a project that you apply for in spring of 2019, would get notified of selection by the fall of 2019, would be approved by EPA to receive 319(h) FY2020 grant funds in summer/fall of 2020 (whose fiscal year ends Sept. 30, 2021), would need to completed by Sept. 30, 2024, or those funds may get reverted and the federal award to the department jeopardized.
IMPORTANT--Whether a project receives state or federal funding, work to be reimbursed by the grant cannot begin until an agreement, drafted by DEP, is fully executed by both parties.
Is there a local match requirement for these grants?
State-funded projects (i.e., State Water Quality Assistance Grants) do not require a local match, but your proposal will receive additional credits in the evaluation process if there is a local commitment to accomplish the project.
Federal-funded projects (i.e., 319h Grants)generally require a minimum 40% non-federal match. Another way of stating this is that Section 319(h) funding should generally not exceed 60% of the total eligible project cost. Grantees can claim match dollars spent from Oct. 1 of the previous federal fiscal year. A Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) loan can be the match.
If so, what are eligible activities for match funding?
Eligible projects and activities that qualify as match include the same types of projects and activities that are eligible for grant funding. In addition, planning, engineering and design activities are eligible to use for match funding as well as certain in-kind services related to the project. Likewise, the same projects and activities that are ineligible for grant funding are also ineligible for match funding, with the exception of planning, engineering and design. Federal funding, with the exception of a CWSRF loan, and other federally-funded in-kind services cannot count as a match.
Are there any restrictions to the federal 319(h) Grants?
Yes, there are a few restrictions and caveats on the use of 319(h) Grant funding under the Clean Water Act. They are:
"No pipes or ditches" - Section 319(h) Grants cannot be used for any project that EPA considers a point source. Or rather the project must meet EPA's definition of a nonpoint source as defined in section 502(14) of the Clean Water Act. For more on nonpoint source versus point source, go to EPA's Basic Information about Nonpoint Source (NPS) Pollution.
"Not required by permit" - Any project listed as a requirement under an MS4 permit is not eligible for Federal funding. If the project is not listed as required under the permit or is well above and beyond requirements, it may be eligible for funding.
"Monitoring required" - Federal funding requires an evaluation of project effectiveness. For structural construction projects, this typically involves water quality monitoring of the installed BMPs to verify pollutant load reductions. For nonstructural projects such as educational program implementation, this can involve tracking of behavior change and validation of knowledge gained by outreach to the target audience(s).
Eligible governmental entities will complete a project proposal request as stated in the grant solicitation and submit supporting documents to the program's grant coordinator. Proposals may be submitted anytime throughout the year. Contact the grant coordinator to get a copy of the proposal request document or with any questions.
I submitted a project proposal, now what?
The department anticipates reviewing and evaluating submitted proposals each spring and fall (March/April and September/October), or as needed. You may be contacted during the review period for additional information and/or questions that came up during the evaluation process. Once evaluations are done for all projects reviewed in that funding cycle, you will receive one of the following four notification emails:
Selected/state-funded - The department has selected your project for state funding and you will be contacted shortly to begin the process of executing a cost-reimbursement grant agreement between the Department and your organization. Grant-funded work cannot begin until the agreement is fully executed. The department will assign a project manager who will coordinate drafting the agreement, managing the grant project and handling your reimbursement requests. It is important to work closely with and respond in a timely manner to your assigned grant manager.
Selected/federal-funded - The department has selected your project for Federal funding and will send on your proposal to EPA. If EPA also approves the project for section 319(h) grant funding, you will receive a second notification that you have passed the second step and you will be contacted shortly to begin the process of executing a cost-reimbursement grant agreement between the department and your organization. Grant-funded work cannot begin until the agreement is fully executed, but eligible match-funded work can start at the beginning of that federal fiscal year (e.g., Oct. 1, 2019, for a federal 2020 fiscal year funded project). Similarly, the department will assign a project manager who will coordinate drafting the agreement, managing the grant project, and handling your reimbursement requests. It is important to work closely with and respond in a timely manner to your assigned grant manager.
Not selected/no further action required - The department has not selected your project for state or federal funding in the current selection cycle but we will hold it for consideration in the next selection cycle, with no need to resend the proposal unless updates are needed.
Not selected/action required - The department has not selected your project for state or federal funding. If you would like to resubmit your application for review in the next cycle or send in future proposals, the request will be accepted and reviewed.
What do some of these terms mean that are referred to during the application process?
Size of Land Area Being Treated – The size of the contributing land area, in acres (usually a watershed or sub-basin) that drains to the project being constructed.
Size of Project Impact – The size of the site in acres where the project is being constructed (usually the extent of the permitted plans).
Waterbody Identification (WBID) - The term is used interchangeably with waterbody segment. For more information on WBIDs, please visit the DEP Basin 411 website.
Pollutant of Concern – The pollutant or pollutants that have been identified as causing the impairment of a waterbody.
Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) – A scientific determination of the maximum amount of a given pollutant that a surface water can absorb and still meet the water quality standards that protect human health and aquatic life. Waterbodies that do not meet water quality standards are identified as "impaired" for the particular pollutants of concern—such as nutrients, bacteria, mercury, etc.—and TMDLs must be developed, adopted, and implemented for those pollutants to reduce concentrations and clean up the waterbody.
Verified Impaired Water as defined by rule 62-303.200(7) of the Florida Administrative Code – A waterbody or waterbody segment that does not meet its applicable water quality standards as set forth in Chapters 62-302 and 62-4, F.A.C., as determined by the methodology in Part IV of [Chapter 62-303, F.A.C], due in whole or in part to discharges of pollutants from point or nonpoint sources. The process for verifying that a water is impaired is described in Rule 62-303.400, F.A.C.
What about my septic system?
Individual citizens that are having issues with their septic systems are not eligible for nonpoint source grant funding. The federal section 319(h) grant can help fund abandonment of septic tanks and connections to sewer, but a local government or water management district (WMD) would have to apply for the grant. Homeowners would then get reimbursed through that local government or WMD. This is typically accomplished on a street or neighborhood scale rather than one homeowner at a time.
For more information on fixing or upgrading your septic system, visit these other resources:
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