San Francisco Bay Delta

Frequent Questions

On this page: Answers to questions regarding—

New FAQs added July 2, 2013

  • Q. Can existing equipment count towards the required 50% match?

    Equipment is eligible as match as long as it is pertinent to the project’s expected environmental outcomes. Details on matching fund requirements can be found at 40 CFR 31.24 or 40 CFR 30.23. Use of equipment as match is not commonly used and its suitability as match will likely be determined on a case-by-case basis. For further guidance, please contact us directly with your example.

  • Q. How important is describing a logic model in the initial proposal?

    Applicants are not required to include an example of a logic model in their initial proposal. We are providing example logic models on our website because they are a planning tool that can be useful to applicants. The RFIP evaluation criteria take into account well-planned projects. You may choose to provide a logic model framework to describe your project and its environmental outcomes.

  • Q. Does EPA consider partners to be only entities receiving EPA funds? Or could partners be sources of match?

    EPA awards a grant to one entity. That entity, the grantee, may choose to partner with other entities. Those entities may be able to receive funds from the grantee through a contract or a subaward (also referred to as a subgrant). However, if an applicant names a specific contractor (also referred to as subrecipient) in its application then the applicant must ensure that it has complied with the applicable procurement regulations in 40 C.F.R. Part 30 or Part 31. If a grantee partners with another Federal agency, Federal agencies may receive payment through a reimbursable agreement.

    State, local, nonprofit agency partners, and in limited cases federal agencies, may provide match.

  • Q. Is funding advocacy for on the ground low impact development work without an implementation piece/output an eligible activity?

    A. Promotion of institutionalizing LID is an eligible activity. However, proposals that will lead to implementation and measurable environmental results will be more competitive under this solicitation per the criteria. We have funded a project with Save the Bay (PDF)(11 pp, 57 K) that included working with Bay Area cities to implement plastic bag bans. Advocacy is sometimes used as a term for lobbying, so applicants should be aware that there are prohibitions on the use of federal funds as follows: any recipient of funding must agree to comply with restrictions on using assistance funds for unauthorized lobbying, fund-raising, or political activities (i.e., lobbying members of Congress or lobbying for other federal grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts).

General

  • Q. What is the San Francisco Bay Area Water Quality Improvement Fund (SFBWQIF)?

    A. The SFBWQIF is a competitive grant program aimed at protecting and restoring the water quality and aquatic habitat of San Francisco Bay and its watersheds. To date, EPA has awarded over $27 million in 20 grants supporting 48 projects, matching and leveraging over $100 million, and involving 69 partners. Emphasis is on projects encouraging innovation, cost-effectiveness, leveraging of additional resources and fostering widespread implementation.

  • Q. How much funding is available this year?

    A. There is approximately $5 million available this year and EPA expects to award three – five grants.

    Funding Opportunity Number

    EPA-R9-WTR3-13-001

    Available Funds

    ~$5 million

    Funding Range for Projects

    $800,000 to $2,000,000

    Match (statutory authority)

    50%

    Evaluation Criteria

          - Initial Proposals (100 pts)

    Scope/Approach (45 pts)

    Environmental Results (45 pts)

    Budget Summary (10 pts)

    Evaluation Criteria

          - Full Proposals (100 pts)

    Partnerships (35 pts)

    Budget Detail (40 pts)

    Programmatic Capability and Past Performance (20 pts)

    Expenditure of Awarded Grant Funds (5 pts)

Submitting a Proposal

  • Q. Where do I start?

    A. You should start by closely reading the funding announcements. Determine your eligibility by reviewing the Threshold Evaluation Criteria (Section III. C). Carefully consider the Program Priorities (Section I.B) and Evaluation Criteria (Section IV.B) to develop your proposed activities to achieve specific outputs and outcomes in a manner that will address the evaluation criteria.

  • Q. What kind of materials do I need to submit for the initial proposal?

    A. To be considered for a SFBWQIF grant, EPA requires that each submission contain a set of common elements that are described in Section IV.B (Content of Initial Proposal Submission.) The materials that must be included in the initial proposal package include: Application for Federal Assistance Standard Form 424, Standard Form 424A, Proposal Narrative including Environmental Results, and a map of the project. It is also highly recommended that you include a one paragraph summary of your project including the expected environmental results.

  • Q. What is the initial proposal submission deadline?

    A. Initial proposals must be received by EPA via Grants.gov, mail, hand-delivery, express delivery service, or by email by 5:00pm Pacific Standard Time on July 9, 2013 as specified in Section IV of the announcements. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that their proposals reach the designated person/office specified in Section IV of the announcement by the submission deadline.

  • Q. How will EPA review proposals?
    1. Initial Proposals. Eligible initial proposals will be evaluated by the EPA Region 9 Review Committee which will score and rank the proposals using the evaluation criteria identified above in Section V.A.1. The Review Committee will consist of EPA staff and may also include representatives from other state or Federal agencies. Applicants with the highest ranking initial proposals will be invited to submit full proposals.
    2. Full Proposals. Those applicants identified to submit full proposals for review will be notified by EPA and will be asked to submit additional information (including the information identified in Section IV.C.) which address the full proposal evaluation criteria in Section V.A.2. The Review Committee will rank and score each full proposal based on the evaluation criteria described above in Section V.A.2.
    3. Final Selections and Awards. The Review Committee will provide rankings and funding recommendations based on the full proposal scores to the selection official (Director of EPA Region 9 Water Division.) Final funding decisions will be made by the selection official, in consultation with the Regional Administrator. In making the final funding decisions, the selection official in consultation with the Regional Administrator, may also take into account the following factors: geographic distribution of funds, diversity of projects, and availability of funds. Proposals selected for funding will be asked to submit a final application package in order to award funds.

Eligibility

  • Q. How can I tell if I am eligible to apply for a grant?

    A. The following entities are eligible to apply for funding under this announcement unless restricted by the authorizing statute(s): State, local government agencies, districts, and councils; regional water pollution control agencies and entities; State coastal zone management agencies; public and private universities and colleges, and; and public or private non-governmental, non-profit institutions. Non-profit organizations must have documentation of non-profit status from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service or their state of incorporation, except that non-profits organizations as defined in Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying as defined in Section 3 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act 1995 or superseding legislation are ineligible.

  • Q. What is ineligible for funding?

    A. Projects that do not address San Francisco Bay water quality issues in the nine Bay Area counties (Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco) are ineligible.

    EPA also conducts a threshold eligibility review of all proposals (Section III.C). Applicants deemed ineligible for funding consideration as a result of the threshold eligibility review will be notified within 15 calendar days of the ineligibility determination.

  • Q. Are preaward costs eligible?

    A. In certain circumstances, costs incurred within 90 days prior to the grant award may be eligible for reimbursement. However, this does not include any costs associated with responding to this solicitation or in finalizing the application package. If costs are incurred before the award, they are incurred at the applicant’s own risk.

Environmental Outputs and Outcomes

  • Q. What are "Outputs and Outcomes"?

    A. Outputs and outcomes are explained in Section I.C.2 of the RFIPs. The terms outputs and outcomes are derived from the EPA’s increased focus on environmental results (EPA Policy Order 5700.7 Environmental Results). Therefore, EPA’s priority is to support projects that are likely to achieve quantifiable outcomes. Applicants must include specific statements describing the environmental results of the proposed project in terms of well-defined "outputs" and "outcomes".
    More details, including graphics, about environmental results.

    Outputs are the activities or deliverables that are to be accomplished as a result of a grant. Outputs are generally described as deliverables or milestones in a workplan or timeline. EPA project officers track the completion of outputs to monitor the progress of a grant. Outputs include things like workshops held, volunteers trained, studies, watershed management plans, outreach materials, etc.

    Outcomes are the environmental impacts or results of the work of the grant. While outputs are accomplished during the life of the grant, outcomes may occur after the completion of the grant. It may be useful to categorize outcomes as short-term and/or long-term. Documenting environmental outcomes can be challenging, so a wide range of methods can be utilized including estimation, modeling and monitoring.

  • Q: Are there environmental outputs and outcomes for projects that are not on-the-ground?

    A. Yes. We encourage local governments and partners to propose outputs related to projects that establish institutional capacity, such as those that involve land use zoning, watershed mitigation management approaches, sub area plans, development standards, regulatory measures in comprehensive plans, and other regulations (or incentive based regulatory programs) to implement stormwater controls, and low impact development (LID). Outcomes in the long term could include projected estimated pollutant load reductions through modeling or providing a range of potential improvements. All outcomes must be quantitative and outcomes to be achieved beyond the assistance agreement funding period should be included.

Types of Projects

  • Q. What kinds of LID projects are eligible?

    A. EPA is encouraging proposals that achieve measurable water quality improvements and provide for more widespread and ongoing implementation through establishing institutional capacity. The following are some examples of LID-related institutional capacity building and on-the-ground activities that are eligible under the RFIPs.

    Institutional Capacity Examples:

    • Develop and carry out laws, ordinances, and incentive programs to implement watershed programs such as systematic implementation of low impact development, land acquisition, and transfer of development rights.
    • Enhance and implement watershed protection and land use plans, stormwater controls and/or land development standards to achieve water quality objectives and maintain native vegetation and natural hydrology. Tools expected to be part of these improvements include watershed models predicting hydrologic impacts of alternative, future land cover conditions, development scenarios, and anticipated climate change impacts.
    • Implement watershed-based, interagency monitoring and project tracking systems to foster coordinated adaptive management to achieve TMDL and aquatic resource protection goals.
    • Increase data and information available to local decision-makers who write and implement laws, ordinances, and permits.


    On-the-Ground Examples:

    • Implementing BMP's to reduce impervious surfaces in watersheds and drainages so as to protect and/or restore water quality and downstream beneficial uses, etc.
    • Restoring a floodplain and/or wetlands to buffer affects from high flow events and enhance habitat.
    • Systematically improving and/or replacing culverts, drainage pipes, road drainage systems, etc. which re-connects watershed hydrologic features and reduces pollutant loads in stormwater.
  • Q. Is land acquisition eligible as a project type if it meets the RFIP criteria?

    A. Land acquisition is not explicitly prohibited, thus it is an eligible project activity. We would stress, however, that the land acquisition would have to be directly linked to or demonstrated to be a key factor in improving water quality conditions in impaired waterbodies. And we would highlight that since 2008, we have not received any proposals for acquisition and thus, none of the SFBWQIF funds have been used for acquisition.

  • Q. Can the funding be used to meet municipal stormwater permit requirements under NPDES permits if the proposed activities meet the grant criteria?

    A. Yes. The funding can be used to meet the municipal stormwater permit requirements under NPDES permits if the proposed activities meet the announcement requirements and criteria. EPA is encouraging proposals that address stormwater to go beyond the regulatory requirements of the permit. Examples of the types of stormwater system improvements that go beyond stormwater permit requirements on a watershed scale are as follows:

    • Retrofitting existing development to reduce stormwater impacts.
    • Systematic preservation and restoration of streams and wetlands critical to maintenance and restoration of watershed hydrology.
    • Removal of local institutional barriers to facilitate the systematic implementation of LID.
    • Incentive programs for private homeowners to incorporate LID measures.
    • Changes to future land use patterns and practices.

TMDLs and Watershed Plans

  • Q. Why is EPA emphasizing that implementation be based on TMDLs, appropriate climate change scenarios, watershed plans and other quantitative water quality assessments and plans?

    A. EPA's national experience overseeing state nonpoint source (NPS) programs has led us to conclude that significant environmental results are more likely where Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and associated assessments and plans provide detailed information to identify priority activities to achieve water quality objectives and beneficial uses within a specific time frame. The most effective plans should contain sufficient accountability and feedback mechanisms to allow for adaptive management to ensure ongoing progress. Such specific information helps ensure that limited resources can be directed, and leveraged, to address the most significant pollutant sources. For this reason, proposed activities in response to this announcement are expected to be based on data, analysis and information contained in TMDLs, climate change models, watershed plans and related assessments. Evidence should be provided that sufficient planning and assessment has been completed to ensure that the proposal is undertaking priority activities that will achieve significant and sustainable environmental results.

    For more information concerning watershed plans you may want to refer to the Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect our Waters (March 2008)

Match Requirement

  • Q. Is there a match requirement?

    A. Yes. There is a 50% match requirement, essentially a one-to-one match. The match may be in the form of cash or in-kind contributions. Monies from other federal sources, unless specified by law, may not count toward the match.

  • Q. Regarding the 50% match requirement, what exactly does “of the total project cost” mean?

    A. In the solicitation announcements, EPA states that the match must cover 50% of the total cost of the project. This indicates that the federal government will not pay more than half of the total project cost, essentially a 1:1 match.

    Calculating match is one of the most common mistakes in proposal submissions. Please read this carefully and use the following formulas and examples to develop the correct match amount for your project.

    1. Example Formula: (Total Project Cost X .5 = Match)
      If you know your TOTAL project cost is, FOR EXAMPLE, $2,000,000, then multiply that amount by .5 to find the required match, $1,000,000, and the REMAINDER, $1,000,000, is the federal amount to be requested, which provides 50% of the project total.
    2. Example Formula: (Federal Portion / .5) - Federal Portion = Match)
      If you know the federal amount you would like to request is, FOR EXAMPLE, $1,500,000, divide that amount by .5 ($3,000,000) and subtract by $1,500,000 to identify your required $1,500,000 in matching funds or services.
  • Q. What is considered to be an in-kind match?

    A. In-kind contributions can be an organization’s staff time, the use of volunteers, and/or donated time, equipment, expertise, etc., consistent with the regulations governing matching fund requirements (40CFR 31.24 or 40 CFR 30.23).

  • Q. How do I "certify" my match?

    A. The procedures relating to match certification are standard for all EPA grants. In general, the nominee should verify that a match is committed by appending letters from the party (on its own letterhead) that is supplying the match and the amount of the commitment.

  • Q. What is the value of volunteer time?

    A. EPA's policy has been that volunteer time is worth whatever hourly wage you would pay an individual if you were to go out and hire a person to do the work that you are asking a volunteer to perform.

  • Q. Can resources (e.g. in-kind services, cash) expended for a mitigation project be used as match for a SFBWQIF project?

    A. There may be instances where an applicant's proposed SFBWQIF project involves activities associated with a mitigation project/activity. Whether the mitigation project/activity can be used as match for the proposed SFBWQIF project will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. However, if the applicant is proposing to perform the mitigation project to comply with a Consent Decree or Administrative Order the mitigation funds/resources cannot be used as a match for the SFBWQIF project. If an applicant wants to use the match for a mitigation activity above and beyond the work that is required under the grant, the activity might be considered out of scope and therefore not eligible as a match. To be eligible for match, the mitigation project-related activities must be allowable under the terms of the grant, must comply with the Federal cost principles found at 2 CFR Part 220, 2 CFR Part 225 or 2 CFR Part 230, and be conducted during the grant's project period.

Contracts and Subawards

  • Q. Can grant funding be used by the applicant to make subawards, acquire contract services, or fund partnerships?

    A. Yes, funds can be used for contracts and subawards in accordance with the Contracts and Subawards/Subgrants requirements in Section IV.H of the announcement. EPA awards funds to one eligible applicant as the “recipient” even if other eligible applicants are named as “partners” or “co-applicants” or members of a “coalition” or “consortium.” The recipient is accountable to EPA for the proper expenditure of funds and reporting requirements.

  • Q. May EPA grant recipients enter into agreements with federal agencies to carry out tasks/activities under the grant work plan?

    A. Reimbursable Agreement- Grant recipients may enter into reimbursable agreements with federal agencies as long as those federal agencies are authorized under applicable federal laws to enter into such agreements with federal grant recipients. This is the mechanism by which a grant recipient can work with a federal agency as a partner. Reimbursable agreements do not have to be competed, but grant recipients must provide a brief explanation as to why they are selecting a federal agency to carry out the work.

    Grant recipients MAY NOT enter into subgrants with federal agencies as part of their project activities. The only way to partner with a federal agency is through the reimbursable agreements described above, which is a type of contract.

  • Q. What are EPA’s bonding requirements for contractors?

    A. EPA’s bonding requirements can be found at 40 CFR §31.36(h). These requirements apply to local government grant recipients, not to State government or non-profit grant recipients. States and non-profits follow their own procurement rules with respect to bonding. 40 CFR §31.36(h) states:

    (h) Bonding requirements. For construction or facility improvement contracts or subcontracts exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold ($100,000), the awarding agency (EPA) may accept the bonding policy and requirements of the grantee or subgrantee provided the awarding agency has made a determination that the awarding agency's interest is adequately protected. If such a determination has not been made, the minimum requirements shall be as follows:

    1. A bid guarantee from each bidder equivalent to five percent of the bid price. The “bid guarantee” shall consist of a firm commitment such as a bid bond, certified check, or other negotiable instrument accompanying a bid as assurance that the bidder will, upon acceptance of his bid, execute such contractual documents as may be required within the time specified.
    2. A performance bond on the part of the contractor for 100 percent of the contract price. A “performance bond” is one executed in connection with a contract to secure fulfillment of all the contractor's obligations under such contract.
    3. A payment bond on the part of the contractor for 100 percent of the contract price. A “payment bond” is one executed in connection with a contract to assure payment as required by law of all persons supplying labor and material in the execution of the work provided for in the contract.
  • Q. May recipients apply local geographical preferences (also known as “local hire” preferences) for contracts procured using EPA grant funds?

    A. The answer depends on whether or not the grant recipient is a state government, local government or non-profit organization.

    • State government recipients generally follow their own procurement rules. If the State rules allow geographic preferences they may utilize this option. However, States must comply with other EPA procurement rules including the Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) Rule (see EPA's Small Business Programs Resources and Training webpage ).
    • Local government recipients may not include geographical preferences in the evaluation of bids or proposals (see EPA grant regulation 40 CFR §31.36 (c) (2). This applies to both EPA grant funds and match dollars.
    • Non-profit organization recipients are not prohibited from utilizing geographical preference in their EPA funded contracts, but they must comply with other procurement rules including the DBE rule.

    Note—EPA grantees/subgrantees may not hire contractors who have been debarred or suspended.

Other Questions

  • Q. What are indirect or overhead costs?

    A. Indirect costs represent the expenses of doing business that are not readily identified with a particular grant, contract, project function or activity, but are necessary for the general operation of the organization and the conduct of activities it performs (source: Indirect Cost Overview, Dept. of Education ). In order to charge interest costs to the grant, the applicant must have an up-to-date approved indirect cost rate agreement with its cognizant agency (the federal agency the applicant receives the most funding from). EPA does recognize indirect cost agreements negotiated with other federal agencies.

  • Q. How do we answer question 19 in the SF 424?

    A. The SFBWQIF (Program) is covered by Executive Order (EO) 12372. The appropriate answer for this box is A. If your proposal is selected for a grant award, then you will need to send a copy of your SF 424 to the California Grants Coordination State Clearinghouse.

    Grants Coordination
    State Clearinghouse
    Office of Planning & Research
    P.O. Box 3044, Room 212 Sacramento, CA 95814-3044
    Telephone: (916) 445-0613
    FAX: (916) 323-3018 Email: state.clearinghouse@opr.ca.gov
  • Q. Do “Measure W” watersheds receive special treatment in the proposal evaluation process?

    A. The evaluation criteria do not give preference to Measure W watersheds (see EPA-Region 9's Measure W webpage for more context). The level of watershed planning that each proposed project is based on is considered under the context of the "Scope/Approach" evaluation criteria as follows: "activities are based on watershed plans, appropriate climate change scenarios, TMDLs and/or related assessments to ensure that priority activities are being undertaken that will lead to water quality objectives and the protection of beneficial uses within a specific timeframe." You can find the full description of the evaluation criteria in Section V.A of the RFIP.


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