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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

Tribal Section 319 Projects

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In 1987 Congress added sections 319 and 518 to the Clean Water Act to enable states, territories, and tribes to address the problems caused by nonpoint source pollution. Section 319 established baseline requirements for state and territorial nonpoint source management programs and authorized national funding to support implementation of approved management programs. Section 518 authorized EPA to treat federally recognized Indian tribes in the same manner as states and to grant up to one-third of 1 percent of national 319 grant funds to tribes.

In FY 2000 and FY 2001, Congress authorized EPA to award grants to Indian tribes under section 319 in an amount that exceeds the statutory cap, recognizing that Indian tribes need and deserve increased financial support to implement their nonpoint source programs. As a result, in FY 2000 and FY 2001, $2.5 million and $6 million (respectively) were made available to tribes—the first time that total national 319 grants to tribes had exceeded $1 million. EPA's long-term goal is for the cap on tribal nonpoint source grants to be permanently eliminated.

EPA annually awards section 319 grants to tribes that submit approved nonpoint source assessments and management plans. Each grant awarded under section 319 requires a 40 percent nonfederal match. If a tribe demonstrates a special financial need, however, EPA may (and frequently does) approve a 10 percent nonfederal match. As of September 2001 more than 70 tribes (representing more than 70 percent of Indian Country) have EPA-approved nonpoint source assessments and management programs. Despite very limited resources, a number of tribes have been able to implement some good-quality projects designed to achieve water quality improvements on tribal lands. Several examples of these projects are highlighted in this special feature section.


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