§319 Guideline Revisions
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) issued revised guidelines to states, territories, and the District of Columbia for the award of §319 grants under the Clean Water Act. These guidelines are requirements that apply to recipients of grants made with funds appropriated by Congress under §319 of the CWA. States and USEPA regions will implement these guidelines beginning in fiscal year 2014 and in subsequent years. These guidelines provide updated program direction, an increased emphasis on watershed project implementation in watersheds with impaired waters, and increased accountability measures.
Below are highlights of the revised §319 guidelines. It is important that you read and understand how these apply to your current and future 319-funds.
By default, all gudelines that must be met by States are passed on to sub-grantees.
Other significant changes in these revised guidelines include:
The 2004 guidelines allowed states to use a portion (up to 20%) of their incremental funds for the purposes of developing WBPs and total maximum daily loads (TMDLs). In an effort to increase the focus of §319 funding on watershed project implementation, the revised guidelines remove this allowance and require planning activities to be funded with nonpoint program funds.
The guidelines continue to place a strong emphasis on taking a watershed based approach to restore NPS-impaired waters. States will focus watershed project funds primarily on these efforts. A limited amount of watershed project funds may also be used for projects to protect unimpaired/high quality waters when protection is cited as a priority in the state’s updated NPS management program.
The guidelines include a renewed focus on updating state NPS management programs on a five year basis, with the expectation that 50% of NPS management program plans will be updated by September 2013, and all management programs will be up-to-date by September 2014.
The guidelines provide an increased emphasis on coordination with USDA Farm Bill programs as a way to leverage water quality investments.
The 20% base funds cap on the use of §319 funds for statewide NPS monitoring and assessment from the 2004 guidelines has been removed in recognition of the importance of these activities for measuring success and in targeting watershed restoration and protection efforts.
For states that go well beyond an expected level of non-federal funds leveraging, the revised guidelines provide an incentive to use the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and other state or local funding for NPS watershed projects by providing additional flexibility with §319 funds when states provide funding for watershed projects equal to their total §319 allocation.