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Water: Tribal

Tribal Nonpoint Source Information

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The EPA offers grants and technical assistance to support tribal environmental programs in assessing and managing their nonpoint source pollution problems and threats. Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution, unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, comes from many diffuse sources. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground waters.  A wide range of activities are eligible for funding under CWA section 319, including but not limited to: NPS training for tribal staff, developing watershed-based plans, riparian planting, livestock exclusion fencing, lake protection and restoration activities, NPS ordinance development, outreach and education, and many more. View the list of NPS pollution categories and subcategories (PDF) (3 pp, 61K).

Tribal CWA section 319 funding is awarded via base grants and competitive grants. To learn about current nonpoint source funded work in Indian Country, see the project summary descriptions of recent competitive grant awardees.

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Eligibility for CWA section 319 Funding

Four eligibility conditions must be met before tribes or intertribal consortia may submit for CWA section 319 funding:

  1. Be federally recognized
  2. Have an approved NPS assessment report in accordance with CWA section 319(a)
  3. Have an approved NPS management program in accordance with CWA section 319(b)
  4. Be approved for treatment in a similar manner as a state (TAS) in accordance with CWA section 518(e)

More detailed information regarding program eligibility can be accessed in the Handbook for Developing and Managing Tribal Nonpoint Source Pollution Program (PDF) (182 pp, 8.6MB), as well as your regional EPA NPS Tribal Coordinator.

Fiscal Year 2015 Funding

Tribes interested in applying for Fiscal Year 2015 funding must have secured program eligibility by October 10, 2014 (the second Friday in October, per base grant guidelines). Base grant work plan application deadlines are set by each EPA Region, whereas the national grant competition has a single deadline. Funding information regarding Fiscal Year 2015 is available at the Information Related to FY2015 Section 319 Funding page. For funding information from previous fiscal years, please visit the Past Section 319 Grant Guidelines.


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Program Resources

  • Handbook for Developing and Managing Tribal Nonpoint Source Pollution Programs (PDF) (182 pp, 8.6MB)
    This updated handbook provides guidance and practical templates for tribes interested in obtaining federal funds to manage nonpoint source pollution under section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act. Specifically, it describes the 319 (h) grant process, as well as how to develop a nonpoint source assessment report and management program. This version includes new tribal examples, and also a section focused on the watershed-based planning approach. The final section includes additional resources for tribes related to the nonpoint source pollution program goals.
  • Tribal Watershed Based Plan Example
    • Many tribes are pursuing watershed based planning efforts to better protect and restore their water resources. For examples of watershed based plans in your EPA Region, contact your EPA Tribal NPS Coordinator. The Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe developed a plan for the Dungeness River Watershed. Dungeness River Watershed Based Plan (PDF) (155 pp, 5.6MB) Exit EPA Disclaimer
  • Training
    • The tribal NPS program has supported in-person regional training opportunities for several years, as well as two national tribal NPS conferences. Check with your EPA Regional Tribal Coordinator (contact information below) for upcoming training opportunities. Materials from previous training, including archived webcasts maybe be found below:


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