Nonpoint Source Pollution Grant Funding

The State Water Board receives grant funding from US EPA under section 319 of the Federal Clean Water Act to fund projects that reduce nonpoint source pollution. Examples of projects include:

  • Installation of fencing and off-stream watering systems to manage livestock grazing operations and prevent livestock from negatively impacting surface waters
  • Forest road improvements to upgrade or decommission failing dirt roads and reduce erosion and sedimentation to surface waters
  • Stream restoration to address historic hydromodification that is causing erosion and sedimentation
  • Agriculture best management practices such as cover crops, filter strips, pesticide management plans, nutrient management plans, irrigation improvements, and sediment basins to reduce pesticides and nutrients in surface and ground waters
  • Improvements to dairies or equestrian facilities to manage manure and prevent stormwater runoff of pathogens and nutrients to surface waters

Most grant funding is earmarked for projects that improve impaired waters and implement Total Maximum Daily Loads. However, some funding is earmarked for protecting high-quality waters, or waters that are not impaired. The Grant Program typically awards about $4 million per year to eligible projects. Read below for details on how to apply for funding.

Important Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility – Applicant must be a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, Federally Recognized Tribe, or federal, state, local, or other public agency or public college

Priority Watersheds and Pollutants - Projects must reduce nonpoint source pollution in areas prioritized by the Regional Water Boards. See the Program Preferences in the current Grant Program Guidelines for a list of priority watersheds and pollutants for each Regional Water Board.

Watershed Based Plans - All projects must have a nine-element watershed-based plan (WBP) that identifies activities needed to address watershed concerns and show that the project to be funded is a priority. Watershed plans may compile information from Basin Plans, Total Maximum Daily Load implementation plans, watershed assessments, or other reports or analyses of watershed health. The nine elements help assess the contributing causes and sources of nonpoint source pollution in a watershed, involve key stakeholders and prioritize restoration and protection strategies to address water quality problems.

The nine elements are:

  1. Identification and quantification of pollution sources in the watershed
  2. Identification of the water quality target or goal and pollution reductions needed to achieve the goal
  3. Identification of the best management practices (BMPs) that will help to achieve reductions needed to meet the water quality goal/target
  4. Description of the financial and technical assistance needed to implement the BMPs identified in Element C
  5. Description of how stakeholder input was incorporated into the plan; and what their role is in implementing the plan
  6. An estimated schedule to implement the BMPs identified in the plan
  7. Identification of the milestones and estimated timeframes for BMP implementation
  8. Identify the criteria that will be used to assess water quality improvement as the plan is implemented
  9. Describe the monitoring plan to collect water quality data that will be used to measure improvements using the criteria described in Element H

Creating a WBP can be a daunting task but once a WBP is developed, it can be used for many years to apply for section 319 nonpoint source grant funding. Funding is available to prepare a watershed plan if one does not exist. See the current Grant Program Guidelines for instructions to apply for watershed planning funds.

The following resources may provide assistance with developing nine-element watershed based plans.

US EPA Handbook for Developing 9 Key Element Plans

US EPA Quick Guide for Developing 9 Key Element Plans

Watershed Planning Map

This map viewer provides a geographic representation of the planning and assessment documents available for each watershed. These documents can help develop a nine-element Watershed Based Plan. Each highlighted area (yellow polygon) contains documents that may address one or more of the nine key elements required to create a Watershed Based Plan.

Funding Amounts

  • Funding minimum is $250,000 and maximum is $1,000,000 for implementation projects
  • Funding minimum is $50,000 and maximum is $250,000 for planning projects

Match Funding – All projects must provide a 25% match unless the project qualifies for a waiver.

Application Process

Create an account on the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST) and submit a completed project proposal through FAAST. More information about using FAAST can be found in the Nonpoint Source Webinar Recordings below. Requirements for a complete proposal are in the current Nonpoint Source Grant Program Guidelines.

Nonpoint Source Grant Program Webinar Recordings

The following webinars were conducted in November 2022 to answer questions and explain eligibility and application requirements, funding timelines, instructions on the online application system, scoring criteria and more.

November 1, 2022: Ineligible Projects, Project Examples, Attachments A-J, Scoring Criteria and Questions and Answers

November 2, 2022: Full Presentation with Question and Answers

Other Information

Fundable Project Lists

NPS Grant Program

  Subscribe online to receive email notifications and updates @ Look for the "Financial Assistance (Grants & Loans)" section of the subscription topics and the “Nonpoint Source 319 (h)” topic.

For questions or comments about the Nonpoint Source Grant Program please contact William (Bill) Christner, Div. of Water Quality by email at or phone at (916) 322-8428

NPS Grant Project Information

Grant Reporting and Tracking System - is an online database that provides status of the grant projects from the USEPA grant tracking database.

Other Funding Opportunities

Funding Programs at the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) - The Division of Financial Assistance (DFA) administers the implementation of the SWRCB's financial assistance programs, that include loan and grant funding for construction of municipal sewage and water recycling facilities, remediation for underground storage tank releases, watershed protection projects, nonpoint source pollution control projects, etc. Funding programs can be found in the "current funding" tab on the DFA website.