SEATTLE, WA, AUG 25, 2017 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $3,080,000 to the Washington Department of Ecology to help protect human health and the environment through a Nonpoint Source Program Clean Water Act (Section 319) grant. This grant is given to states to implement environmental programs that address nonpoint source pollution in surface and groundwater in order to meet and maintain water quality standards.
"Providing funds directly to Washington is an excellent example of EPA partnering with states to help address their unique and critical environmental challenges," said EPA Administrator Pruitt via a statement. "EPA is making investments like this grant to help empower states who know best how to protect resources, and grow their economy while solving real environmental problems in local communities."
A total of nine proposals were selected for funding this year. These proposals are planned to be funded when the Washington state Legislature passes a new two-year capital budget for the 2017-19 biennium, as these funds provide the critical match for the federal grants. Non-point pollution grant funding can be just the "shot in the arm" that local projects need. For example, in Stevens County, a $132,900 grant will provide necessary funding for projects to restore hundreds of acres of wetlands and repair riparian vegetation along a wetlands easement negotiated by USDA and NRCS on a 950-acre property in the Lower Spokane River watershed.
From the EPA: "Nonpoint source pollution encompasses a wide range of sources that are not always subject to federal or state regulation. These sources include agricultural runoff, unpermitted urban runoff, abandoned mine drainage, failing onsite disposal systems, and pollution caused by changes to natural stream channels."
Congress enacted Section 319 of the Clean Water Act in 1987, establishing a national program to control nonpoint sources of water pollution. Through Section 319, the EPA provides states, territories, and tribes with guidance and grant funding to implement their nonpoint source programs and to support local watershed projects to improve water quality. Collectively, this work has restored over 6,000 miles of streams and over 164,000 acres of lakes since 2006. Hundreds of additional projects are currently underway across the country.