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Water: Safe Drinking Water Act

Request for Applications: Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions for Small Systems Request for Application

Questions may be sent to smallsystemsRFA@epa.gov  no later than
September 6, 2013.

In accordance with EPA's Assistance Agreement Competition Policy (EPA Order 5700.5A1), EPA will respond to questions from individual applicants regarding threshold eligibility criteria, administrative issues related to the submission of the proposal, and requests for clarification about the announcement. However, consistent with the provisions in the announcement, EPA staff cannot meet with individual applicants to discuss draft proposals, provide informal comments on draft proposals, or provide advice to applicants on how to respond to ranking criteria.
Applicants are responsible for the contents of their proposals.

Categories

  1. Applicant Eligibility
  2. Project Eligibility
  3. Threshold Issues
  4. Evaluation Issues
  5. Timing and Logistics
  6. Budget Concerns
  7. Funding Clarifications
  8. Miscellaneous

A.  Applicant Eligibility:
A1: Am I eligible to apply for the RFA?

Eligible applicants under this competition are nonprofit organizations, nonprofit private universities and colleges, and public institutions of higher education.  Nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in prohibited lobbying activities as defined in Section 3 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 are not eligible to apply. For-profit organizations are not eligible to apply.

A2: How does EPA define nonprofit organization?
In accordance with the Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act at 31 USC Sec. 6101, the term “nonprofit organization” means any corporation, trust, association, cooperative, or other organization that - (A) is operated primarily for scientific, educational, service, charitable, or similar purposes in the public interest; (B) is not organized primarily for profit; and (C) uses net proceeds to maintain, improve, or expand the operations of the organization.

A3: Are states, municipalities or tribal governments eligible to apply for the RFA?
No, states, municipalities and tribal governments are not eligible to apply. Eligible applicants are described in Section III.A. of the Request for Proposals (RFA), where it is stated: “Eligible applicants under this competition are nonprofit organizations, nonprofit private universities and colleges, and public institutions of higher education. For-profit organizations are not eligible to apply.... Nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying activities as defined in Section 3 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 are not eligible to apply.”

A4: If I have questions regarding this announcement, will EPA respond to them?
It depends.  EPA will respond to questions from individual applicants regarding threshold eligibility criteria, administrative issues related to the submission of the application, and requests for clarification about the announcement.  Questions must be submitted via e-mail (smallsystemsRFA@epa.gov) by September 6, 2013. Written responses will be posted on EPA’s website at http://water.epa.gov/grants_funding/sdwa/smallsystemsrfafaq.cfm.  However, EPA staff will NOT discuss draft applications, provide informal comments on draft applications, or provide advice to applicants on how to respond to ranking criteria. Applicants are responsible for the contents of their applications.

A5: A consultant has offered to help my organization prepare our application if we agree to hire her firm as a technical assistance provider if our application is successful. Is that practice acceptable to EPA?

No. Successful applicants must comply with the Procurement Standards in 40 CFR Part 30 when acquiring services from consultants and other contractors. These standards require recipients to hire contractors through open competition to the maximum extent practicable. There are a number of firms in the commercial marketplace qualified to compete for the types of services a successful applicant would need to provide technical assistance with EPA funding available under this announcement. 

As stated in section IV. G, Contracts and Subawards, please note that applicants may not award sole source contracts to consulting, engineering or other firms assisting applicants with the application solely based on the firm's role in preparing the application.

A6: May successful applicants charge fees for training and technical assistance services that are funded in whole or in part under their EPA cooperative agreements?
It depends. Under the statutory authority for the cooperative agreements, section 1442(c) of the Safe Drinking Water Act, recipients may not charge fees for training and technical assistance provided to personnel of state and local government agencies. However, the statute does allow recipients to charge reasonable fees to other personnel. Please note that recipients must account for any fees they receive for training and technical assistance funded in whole or in part under their cooperative agreement with EPA as program income under 40 CFR 30.36.

A7: Is the EPA going to provide the actual training, or is this grant opportunity for the small systems to provide their own training, with the assistance of the grant money from EPA?
This funding opportunity is designed to provide funding for eligible non-profit organizations (as described in Section III.A. of the announcement, quoted below). These organizations in turn will provide training and technical assistance to eligible drinking water and wastewater systems and private well owners. Successful grant applicants will provide the training and technical assistance using their own personnel, contracting with other individuals or organizations, or through some other approved mechanism. State and municipal government entities are not eligible for receiving funding under this announcement.

Section III.A. of the Request for Proposals states: “Eligible applicants under this competition are nonprofit organizations, nonprofit private universities and colleges, and public institutions of higher education. For-profit organizations are not eligible to apply.... Nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying activities as defined in Section 3 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 are not eligible to apply.”

A8: Can individual non-profit water systems apply for a grant to make improvements to their systems?
No, individual water systems are not eligible for funding under this announcement. It is designed to provide funding to eligible non-profit organizations (as described in section III.A. “Eligible Applicants” of the Request for Applications, quoted below), which in turn will provide training and technical assistance to eligible drinking water and wastewater systems and private well owners.

Section III.A. “Eligible Applicants” of the Request for Applications states: “Eligible applicants under this competition are nonprofit organizations, nonprofit private universities and colleges, and public institutions of higher education. For-profit organizations are not eligible to apply.... Nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying activities as defined in Section 3 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 are not eligible to apply”.

A9: In reviewing the application package for this grant I noted that the eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations, nonprofit private universities and colleges, and public institutions of higher education. Can you tell me if a public health agency would be eligible under these grant criteria?
If your public health agency is an agency of your county government, then you are not eligible to apply. For the purpose of this Request for Applications, EPA does not consider units of government such as counties as well as their component agencies to be nonprofit organizations.

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B.  Project Eligibility:
B1: The RFA restricts training and technical assistance to small PWSs, serving 10,000 or less people. We have several water system owners including municipal owners, which have both small PWSs and large PWSs. Would these water system owners be eligible for training under the RFA contracts? If so, we have only 1 large system that would not be eligible for the training. Would the selected technical assistance provider be allowed to provide and charge for training to this large system?

The training and technical assistance described in National Priority Areas 1 and 2 is specific to addressing the short and long-term needs of small systems in meeting the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Personnel receiving training and assistance should be associated specifically with systems that meet the criteria of this funding announcement, namely those systems serving 10,000 persons or fewer. We presume that you are asking whether a technical assistance provider could provide services to a large system without using EPA funds by charging the large system a fee to finance the services. That decision would be up to the technical assistance provider rather than EPA. However, the provider would need to maintain accounting data to demonstrate that it did not charge the cost for providing technical assistance to a large system to its EPA cooperative agreement.

B2: Does an onsite/decentralized wastewater system include an individual home sewerage system?

A home septic system is an example of an onsite/decentralized system. The funding opportunity is intended for technical assistance activities that would help multiple onsite/decentralized systems (e.g., a community, a collection of houses, part of a watershed, a geographic region, etc.) to improve their performance.  In Section I.B of the Request for Applications, on-site/decentralized systems are defined as: publicly-owned or privately-owned onsite or clustered systems used to collect, treat, and disperse or reclaim wastewater from a small community, tribe or service area that are publicly or privately-owned and/or serve tribal communities (with the exception of systems that are owned by U.S. federal entities).

B3: I was wondering if the funds would enable small water systems/disadvantaged communities to update water system planning documents.

A nonprofit organization that received funding under this announcement could potentially provide technical assistance to small water systems/disadvantaged communities to update water system planning documents if such an activity were included in its EPA-approved scope of work. The Request for Applications includes the following as an example of eligible activities:
“Conduct preliminary engineering evaluations to assess treatment, storage and distribution system issues, and identify low-cost alternative technology and management techniques…” (Request for Applications, Section I.B.)

B4: Can you please direct me to information that clearly delineates the types of projects that are eligible to apply for these funds?
For example, I work with a number of small communities who need funds to conduct or update their Technical, Managerial, and Financial assessments for water systems, do planning and/or design work for needed water or wastewater system improvements, and to construct improvements to their systems.
Which of these activities would qualify? And can we request funds for specific communities, or does it have to be broader, i.e. across a number of states ?

The types of activities and services that are eligible for funding are described in Section I.B. of the announcement, under “National Priority Areas.” Additionally, the funding opportunity is intended to provide training and technical assistance on a national basis. Applicants are asked to describe a process for consulting with appropriate agencies in each state or territory prior to initiating training and technical assistance activities. This process would take place before assistance is provided to individual communities or systems.
Also, please note that this funding opportunity is designed to provide funding for eligible non-profit organizations (as described in section III.A. "Eligible Applicants" of the Request for Applications), which in turn will provide training and technical assistance to eligible drinking water and wastewater systems and private well owners. States, tribal governments, municipal government entities, and for-profit organizations are not classified as nonprofit organizations and are not eligible to apply under this announcement.

B5: CIf a county/municipality operates several distinct "systems" that are not connected to each other, and one of these distinct systems serves less than 10,000 people, would it qualify as a "small system," or do we aggregate all the distinct systems operated by single entity to determine "smallness?
Yes, the system you describe, a distinct system serving 10,000 persons or fewer, is eligible for receiving training or technical assistance from a grant recipient under this funding announcement. However, the Request for Applications also requires funding recipients to prioritize the use of their funds by working with the state or territory where they are providing assistance, to identify the systems in greatest need of assistance. The Request for Applications, Section I.B., "National Priority Areas" states:
" Applicants should also describe a process whereby they will consult with the appropriate regulatory authority (such as the state or territorial primacy agency or EPA regional direct implementation coordinator) in each state or territory in which the assistance is to be expended or otherwise made available prior to providing training and technical assistance in that state or territory.  In particular, applicants should indicate how they will work with the state, territory or EPA to identify the systems in greatest need of assistance; how they will keep those agencies, the EPA grant project officer and appropriate EPA regional coordinators informed regarding the assistance provided; and how they will document these results."

B6: Is this grant just for training or more than that? We are a small private (Board run) drinking water system that serves 1,281 at present. Would this grant help us with repairs/replacement to existing lines? Is there another choice that would better?

This funding opportunity is designed to provide funding for eligible non-profit organizations (as described in Section III.A. of the announcement, quoted below). These organizations in turn will provide training and technical assistance to eligible drinking water and wastewater systems and private well owners. Successful grant applicants will provide the training and technical assistance using their own personnel, contracting with other individuals or organizations, or through some other approved mechanism. State, tribal and municipal government entities are not eligible for receiving funding under this announcement.
[Section III.A. of the Request for Proposals states: “Eligible applicants under this competition are nonprofit organizations, nonprofit private universities and colleges, and public institutions of higher education. For-profit organizations are not eligible to apply.... Nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying activities as defined in Section 3 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 are not eligible to apply.”]
Also, repairs or replacement of existing water lines would not be eligible for funding under this announcement. The funding announcement covers training and technical assistance activities only.

B7: We have a population of 1,779 in our Municipality and are currently undergoing a mandatory upgrade to our waste water treatment facility. We were wondering if this project would meet any of the criteria of the grant monies to be awarded, or if this type of grant is for training only.

This funding opportunity is only for training and technical assistance projects. A project for adding new equipment or upgrading, retrofitting or rehabilitating existing equipment would not be eligible for funding under this announcement.

B8: The RFA states the performance period will be for eighteen (18) months.  May an applicant submit a twelve (12) month period proposal?  If so submitted, will it be viewed negatively?

Section II.A of the RFA states that cooperative agreements funded under this announcement will have an eighteen month project period.  However, in paragraph 4 “Milestone Schedule” on page 28, under Section IV C., the applicant is requested to “Provide a projected milestone schedule for the proposed project period (up to eighteen months).”  Thus, an applicant can submit an application with a project period and milestone schedule that is eighteen months or shorter.  The milestone schedule should provide a breakout of the project activities into phases with associated tasks and a timeframe for completion of tasks and an approach for ensuring that awarded funds will be expended in a timely and efficient manner.  In accordance with Section V, criterion number 4 “Milestone Schedule/Detailed Budget,” applicants will be evaluated on a number of factors  such as adequacy and completeness of the milestone schedule, including timeframes and major milestones to complete significant project tasks, and an approach to ensure that awarded funds will be expended in a timely and efficient manner.

B9: Am I to understand that “urban” communities are ok for us to service as long as they are below 10,000 in population?  Is that the same for decentralized WW systems?

As indicated in the announcement, the systems targeted to receive training and technical assistance under National Priority Areas 1 and 2 are "small public water systems," which are defined as "community and non-community water systems serving a population of 10,000 persons or fewer."  The systems targeted for assistance under National Priority Area 3 are "small publicly-owned wastewater systems" or "onsite/decentralized systems".  "Small publicly-owned wastewater systems" are defined as "wastewater systems or treatment facilities that have permitted and actual flows of less than 1 million gallons per day (MGD) and are: owned by a public entity (such as a municipality) or not-for-profit entity (such as regional sewer districts), and/or serve tribal communities (with the exception of systems that are owned by U.S. federal entities)."Onsite/decentralized systems" are defined as "publicly-owned or privately-owned onsite or clustered systems used to collect, treat, and disperse or reclaim wastewater from a small community, tribe or service area that are publicly or privately-owned and/or serve tribal communities (with the exception of systems that are owned by U.S. federal entities)."  There is no size designation for onsite/decentralized systems, and as long as the criteria in the above definitions are met, any of the water and wastewater systems described above may be located in either rural or urban communities.

B10: RFA, Section C, “Providing Training and Technical Assistance on a National Basis”: is this stating that the awardees must provide their training on a national basis?

Providing training on a national basis is not a threshold eligibility criterion that if not met will result in the elimination of the application from consideration of funding.  However, applicants are asked to demonstrate and will be evaluated on their ability to providing training and technical assistance on a national basis.  Section I.C. of the RFA states that applications "...should demonstrate the applicant's ability to and approach to making training and technical assistance available on a national basis."  Section I.C also states that: "Applications will be evaluated based on the criteria in Section V, including the demonstrated ability and described approach to making training and technical assistance available nationally in the maximum number of states and U.S. territories through face-to-face/on-site and/or remote training and technical assistance.  EPA will give priority consideration to applications that describe a flexible approach that tailors the training and technical assistance techniques and resources to address the specific needs of the target audience in as many states and U.S. territories as possible."

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C.  Threshold Issues:
C1: If I put charts and exhibits in my proposal can they be a smaller font than the 12 point font that is required of the body of the proposal?

The RFA does not establish a required minimum 12 point font for the project narrative or any charts and/or exhibits; however, the RFA does indicate that readability is of paramount importance. Section IV.C.2, Project Narrative, states in part
"...It is recommended that applicants use a standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins. While these guidelines establish the minimum type size recommended, applicants are advised that readability is of paramount importance and should take precedence in selection of an appropriate font for use in the Project Narrative." EPA recommends that all of the project narrative, including any charts and/or exhibits is in a 12 point font.

C2: Is there a grant ceiling & floor for applications?

There is a ceiling but no floor for the amount of funds applicants may request. The Request for Applications (RFA) section III.C., “Threshold Eligibility Criteria” states that:  Applications for awards under National Priority Area 1 cannot exceed $8.5 million; applications for awards under National Priority Area 2 cannot exceed $2.5 million; applications for awards under National Priority Area 3 cannot exceed $1.4 million; and applications for awards under National Priority Area 4 cannot exceed $300,000.  Applications exceeding these amounts will be rejected.  EPA has not established a minimum amount of funding for applicants.

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D.  Evaluation Issues:
D1: The RFA states the performance period will be for eighteen (18) months.  May an applicant submit a twelve (12) month period proposal?  If so submitted, will it be viewed negatively?

Section II.A of the RFA states that cooperative agreements funded under this announcement will have an eighteen month project period.  However, in paragraph 4 “Milestone Schedule” on page 28, under Section IV C., the applicant is requested to “Provide a projected milestone schedule for the proposed project period ([up to] eighteen months).”  Thus, an applicant can submit an application with a project period and milestone schedule that is eighteen months or shorter.  The milestone schedule should provide a breakout of the project activities into phases with associated tasks and a timeframe for completion of tasks and an approach for ensuring that awarded funds will be expended in a timely and efficient manner.  In accordance with Section V, criteria under Item number 4, “Milestone Schedule/Detailed Budget,” applicants will be evaluated on a number of factors  such as adequacy and completeness of the milestone schedule, including timeframes and major milestones to complete significant project tasks, and an approach to ensure that awarded funds will be expended in a timely and efficient manner.

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E.  Timing and Logistics:
E1: When does EPA anticipate that awards will be announced?

EPA anticipates making funding awards by January 2014, but this is only an estimate, and not a guarantee. 

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F.  Budget Concerns:
F1: Would the selected technical assistance provider be allowed to charge for training?

Under the statutory authority for the cooperative agreements, section 1442(c) of the Safe Drinking Water Act, recipients may not charge fees for training and technical assistance provided to personnel of state and local government agencies. However, the statute does allow recipients to charge reasonable fees to other personnel. Please note that recipients must account for any fees they receive for training and technical assistance funded in whole or in part under their cooperative agreement with EPA as program income under 40 CFR 30.36.

F2: The RFA states an eighteen-month project period. Do you anticipate that this type of funding would be available in future years?

The funding announcement is based on EPA’s current budget. The Agency is not making any commitment to future funding.

F3: We have a question regarding the application review process. If an applicant applies for a certain amount...ex., $1,000,000...and after reviewing the applications the agency feels that the work in the proposal is eligible but that there is only $750,000 available. Would the agency go back to the applicant and invite a revised application for the lower amount? Or would the application just be rejected because the amount was higher than the funds available?

EPA would not necessarily reject an otherwise meritorious proposal if the Agency did not have adequate funding to provide the full amount the applicant requested provided the applicant did not request more funding than specified in section III C. 3 of the RFA.
The following provision of the RFA (section II A) would apply:
“In appropriate circumstances, EPA reserves the right to partially fund applications by funding discrete portions or phases of proposed projects. If EPA decides to partially fund an application, it will do so in a manner that does not prejudice any applicants or affect the basis upon which the application or portion thereof, was evaluated and selected for award, and therefore maintains the integrity of the competition and selection process.”

F4: Does EPA have a limit on indirect costs that can be charged?

While there is no “limit”, per se, indirect cost rates must be negotiated with the cognizant federal funding agency in accordance with the procedures in OMB Circular A-122, “Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations”. 
As specified in the Request for Applications, section IV.B.1.i:
“You must submit a copy of your organization‘s Indirect Cost Rate Agreement as part of the application package if your proposed project budget includes indirect costs.”

F5: If when calculating the total cost, you propose $10 million for the cost of the program plus $1 million for cost share/matching, would the total cost be $11 million which would be over the $10 million maximum or is it looked at that the $10 million would be the award amount and $1 million would be the cost share/match?

The "not to exceed" dollar amounts listed under threshold criterion 3 (under section III.C. of the Request for Applications), include only the requested federal funding, and do not include any cost share/matching amounts. In your example, if an applicant submitted an application requesting $10 million of federal funding and agreed to provide an additional $1 million in  cost share/matching, then the application would be evaluated as a $10 million project for the purposes of determining compliance with the threshold requirement in Section III C. 3. The application would comply with the requirement in your example.

F6: When determining cost share/match, can the average hourly wage of the trainees attending the courses be used as cost share?
No. Trainees would not be performing services for the applicant and, accordingly, their wages would not meet the standards at 40 CFR 30.23(d) and (e) for allowability as cost share. Additionally, it is likely that trainees may charge EPA or other federal grants for their salaries and recipients may not use costs charged to federal grants as cost share without statutory authority. 40 CFR 30.23(a)(5). Applicants may pay trainee travel as a "participant support cost" with their own funds and include those costs as a match. However, EPA has determined that other forms of participant support cost such as trainee stipends or child care expenses are unallowable and applicants may not count these costs towards their cost share.

F7: If the applicant develops curriculum for training delivery, can that curriculum be used as voluntary cost share/match? and if so, who then owns the curriculum?
Yes, provided the applicant can meet the requirements at 40 CFR 30.23(a) for documenting that the amount of cost share it claims reflects the fair market value of the curriculum. The applicant will "own" the curriculum. However, if the applicant uses the costs (i.e., personnel or contractor expenses) for developing the curriculum as cost share, EPA would have a "federal purpose" license to use the curriculum under 40 CFR 30.36(a).

F8: If the applicant develops curriculum for training delivery, will the developer be able to use the material developed for systems not targeted by the grant? For example: municipalities larger than the target group.
Yes. The applicant will "own" the curriculum and can use it for its own purposes as long as the cost of the additional use of the curriculum is not charged to this grant.

F9: I understand that according to the RFA, when I am completing the SF424A I include the subgrant/subcontract funding requested in Section h, “Other.”

  • Should I include a separate SF424A for each of the subgrant/subcontracts as an attachment or can I incorporate the explanation of the subgrant/subcontracts in the Budget Narrative?
  • Do I need to include a copy of each subgrant/subcontracts’ Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement as an attachment?
No, you do not need to include a separate SF424A for each subgrant and/or subcontract.  Please note that all subgrant funding should be located in the "other" cost category.  All subcontract funding should be located in the "contractual" cost category. Yes, you can include a narrative description of the budget or aspects of the budget found in the SF424A such as "other" or "contractual" in the detailed budget narrative.
Please also see Section IV.G., Contracts and Subawards, for additional information on contracts and subawards as it is unlikely that EPA will accept sole source justifications for professional services, including services provided by individual consultants, that are available in the commercial marketplace. The Agency will not agree to a sole source contract based on a determination that a firm or individual is the “best” or provides “unique capabilities.”
Categorizing an agreement with a commercial firm or individual consultant as a subgrant is not an acceptable practice. EPA does recognize subgrants between educational institutions or between an educational institution and a nonprofit organization provided the funding arrangement meets the standards for a subrecipient relationship described at 210 of OMB Circular A-133. No, you do not need to include copies of each proposed subgrantee’s Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement as an attachment.

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G.  Funding Clarifications:
G1: I teach Water Operator Certification Courses for both small and large systems and have questions about the RFA. In particular how the application process would work, is it a reimbursement program or up-front funding and how would this work with the College’s typical payment procedures.

EPA will provide payments to successful applicants under procedures described in 40 CFR 30.22. Essentially, the Agency will pay recipients for eligible and allowable costs in a manner that minimizes the length of time between when the recipient incurs the costs and the payment to the recipient. This is the usual method of reimbursing colleges that receive federal financial assistance. The Agency will not provide an “up front” lump sum payment to the recipient that bears no relationship to actual costs incurred.

G2: Can the funds for this grant program be used for the purchase of sewer maintenance/inspection equipment?

Equipment purchases solely for the purpose of providing training or technical assistance are eligible under this funding announcement. Equipment purchases would need to be included in the application budget and approved by EPA as part of the final project work plan.  In general, equipment purchases should represent a small portion of the total project budget.

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H.  Miscellaneous:
H1: Page two of the guidelines state, "EPA has previously awarded financial assistance agreements to nonprofit organizations to provide technical assistance activities that are similar to those described in this announcement."  Can you please advise what programs are being referenced in this section and what applicants received those funds?

Training and technical assistance activities similar in scope have been funded in recent years through competitively-awarded grants to several organizations.  These grants are summarized below, and are also summarized in EPA’s Grant Awards Database (found at http://yosemite.epa.gov/oarm/igms_egf.nsf/HomePage?ReadForm).

  • (National Rural Water Association, Grant 83536001, $6,987,500): Training & Technical Assistance for Small Public Water Systems
    This project provides classroom and/or on-site training and technical assistance to small rural public (including tribal) drinking water systems to help these small public water systems improve and maintain their compliance with National Primary Drinking Water Regulations and consistently supply safe drinking water. This project also provides training and technical assistance for source water protection efforts to help ensure that sources of public water supplies are protected from contamination.
  • (Texas A&M University Engineering and Extension Service, Grant 83535901, $2,987,500): Training and Technical Assistance to Improve Water Quality
    The project will provide training and technical assistance to small public water systems in the 50 states and the territories to improve the competency of system personnel in the area of drinking water treatment and the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • (New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Grant 83536101, $2,500,000): Training and Technical Assistance to Small Public Water Systems
    The project will provide training and technical assistance to small public water systems to improve their financial and managerial capabilities in order to provide safe drinking water. Topics include asset management, water loss, regional collaboration, fiscal planning, energy efficiency, access to multiple funding sources, and managerial & financial leadership training.
  • (Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Grant 83535701, $2,000,000): Training and Technical Assistance to Improve Water Quality
    TRural Community Assistance Partnership, Inc., will administer a national program to provide training and technical assistance to owners and managers of small, publicly owned wastewater treatment systems and onsite wastewater systems, and trainings for private drinking water well owners.


H2: Will EPA seek external reviewers for the Training and Technical Assistance to Improve Water Quality and Enable Small Public Water Systems to Provide Safe Drinking Water RFA?

No. EPA will not seek external reviewers for this announcement. Section V.B of the RFA states that a panel(s) comprised of EPA staff will review the eligible applications by National Priority Area based on the evaluation criteria listed in Section V.A.

H3: What systems within the 50 states are we to work with, how are those systems chosen, who will choose them, and who has the contact information?

Identifying the small public water systems to work with will be the responsibility of the successful applicant. EPA will evaluate your approach to identifying systems to serve under the “National Priority Area” and “Providing Training and Technical Assistance on a National Basis” described in section V.A. of the Request for Applications (RFA).
As required by section I.B. of the RFA, the successful applicant must work with the appropriate regulatory authorities to identify and prioritize systems in greatest need. Your application should describe a process that you propose to follow to assure proper consultation with the appropriate regulatory authority such as the state or territorial primacy agency or EPA regional direct implementation coordinator.

H4: We operate a few small water systems and I’d like to know more about the above funding opportunity. Could you please give me your phone number so that I can ask you some questions?

A telephone conversation would not be fair to other applicants. [As stated in the funding announcement under section VII, “In accordance with EPA’s Assistance Agreement Competition Policy (EPA Order 5700.5A1), EPA staff will not meet with individual applicants to discuss draft applications, provide informal comments on draft applications, or provide advice to applicants on how to respond to ranking criteria.”]
Also, please note that this funding opportunity is designed to provide funding for eligible non-profit organizations (as described in section III.A. of the announcement, quoted below), which in turn will provide training and technical assistance to eligible drinking water and wastewater systems and private well owners. State and municipal government entities are not eligible for receiving funding under this announcement.
[Section III.A. of the Request for Applications states: “Eligible applicants under this competition are nonprofit organizations, nonprofit private universities and colleges, and public institutions of higher education. For-profit organizations are not eligible to apply.... Nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying activities as defined in Section 3 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 are not eligible to apply.”]

H5: We are planning to apply for this grant and would like to know how more about the trainees. If this a cooperative agreement, how can we get the contact information for the trainees?

Obtaining contact information for trainees will be the responsibility of the successful applicant. EPA will evaluate your approach to identifying potential trainees and conducting outreach to potential trainees under the “National Priority Area” and ”Providing Training and Technical Assistance on a National Basis” described in section V.A. of the Request for Applications. Additionally, section I.B., "National Priority Areas" states: " Applicants should also describe a process whereby they will consult with the appropriate regulatory authority (such as the state or territorial primacy agency or EPA regional direct implementation coordinator) in each state or territory in which the assistance is to be expended or otherwise made available prior to providing training and technical assistance in that state or territory.  In particular, applicants should indicate how they will work with the state, territory or EPA to identify the systems in greatest need of assistance; how they will keep those agencies, the EPA grant project officer and appropriate EPA regional coordinators informed regarding the assistance provided; and how they will document these results.”
The state or territorial agencies, in addition to assisting with prioritizing the systems in greatest need, should be able to help provide the successful applicant with contact information for those systems.

H6: Our organization has been asked by two different entities to act as a sub-awardee on the submissions. Each response covers a different National Priority Area (they do not overlap responsibilities or programs within our organization).  Would it be appropriate for our organization to be listed on two separate applications or do we need to choose one?
There is no restriction in the announcement that would preclude a subawardee from being included in more than one application.
 
Please note that any applications that include a subawardee must comply with the provisions of Section IV.G of the Request for Applications (RFA), entitled “Contracts and Subawards.”

Also, please note that Section III.C.2 of the RFA states that: “Applications must address one, and only one, of the four National Priority Areas listed in Section I.B, although eligible organizations may submit more than one application as long as each one is separately submitted and addresses only one National Priority Area.  Applications that address more than one National Priority Area in a single application will not be reviewed.  In addition, applications for National Priority Area 3 must address the two elements of that priority as described in Section I.B.” 

H7: Does this RFA require a Significant Financial Interests Disclosure (SFI) such as that required by some other funding agencies?

Under this funding announcement there is no requirement for a Significant Financial Interests Disclosure for key personnel or any equivalent requirement.

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