Questions & Answers on the Watershed Improvement Grant
These are commonly asked questions about the Watershed Improvement Grant (EPA-R7WWPD-06-002). If you have questions beyond those in this Question & Answer document, or would like paper copies of the Notice of Request for Proposals, please call Jeannette Schafer at 913-551-7297 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Robert Bukaty at 913-551-7846 (email@example.com).
1. Where can I find the SF-424 and SF-424A forms and other grant writing information?
2. Who is eligible to apply?
3. What projects are eligible for funding?
4. What is the difference between demonstrations and implementation?
5. Are other activities not mentioned by the Request for Proposals (RFP) eligible? For example, are groundwater projects eligible for funding?
6. Is an urban pesticide and water project eligible as a Watershed Improvement with Pesticide Emphasis Project?
7. Who will be administering these grants?
8. How likely is my project to be funded? Is a large or small project more likely to be funded?
9. How much detail is needed in the proposal?
10. I am having difficulty with the Grants.gov Website. Who can I call for help?
11. How much cost share is required?
12. What is the difference between a proposal and an application?
13. When will the project start? How long can projects be?
These can be found at the EPA national grants, EPA Region 7 grants, and Federal grants Websites. The Request for Proposal (RFP) uses the required format for all Federal RFPs. Important sections include: Section 3 - Eligibility Information, Section 4 - Application and Submission Information, and Section 5 - Application Review Information.
As defined under Section 3A (Page 6), eligible applicants include states, territories, Indian tribes, and possessions of the U.S., including the District of Columbia, public and private universities and colleges, hospitals, laboratories, other public or private nonprofit institutions, and individuals. This includes county and local governments, natural resource districts, and soil and water conservation districts. Nonprofit institutions that engage in lobbying activities as defined in Section 3 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 are not eligible to apply. For those that are ineligible, you may consider partnering with an eligible applicant.
There are three basic criteria [Section 3C, Page 7]: 1) projects must occur or primarily occur within Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and/or Nebraska; 2) proposals must be submitted by the deadline [see Section 4C]; and 3) must be one of two types of eligible projects [Page 3]. The first project type is a Watershed Improvement Project that supports the coordination and acceleration of research, investigations, experiments, training, demonstrations, surveys, and studies relating to the causes, effects (including health and welfare effects), extent, prevention, reduction, and elimination of water pollution. The second type of project is the Watershed Improvement with Pesticide Emphasis Project that meets the Watershed Improvement Project requirements and supports the transition to using less and lower risk pesticides in crop production and increasing farmers’ adoption of ecologically-based, systems approaches using integrated crop, pest, soil and water management methods. Pesticides include insecticides, fungicides, rodenticides, and herbicides. A Watershed Improvement with Pesticide Emphasis Project must include activities that address farmers’ crop production to meet the additional criteria.
Demonstrations are eligible for funding and include activities that show the overall effectiveness of an approach in solving a problem. These activities must be innovative in their use of technologies, approaches, and/or practices, and include outreach to share lessons learned. Demonstrations must build the capacity of programs and focus on long-term solutions (Page 3). Implementation is not eligible for funding and includes new or ongoing programs to implement environmental controls. Implementation also includes routine or regularly conducted projects with little or no outreach to share knowledge, where the program staff has basic knowledge of proposed projects and outcomes (Page 14). For example, proposed activities by an applicant that are required to meet their Phase II Storm Water requirements would not be eligible for funding. Activities in addition to those required in Phase II Storm Water regulations that also meet the demonstration definition above would be eligible.
If the activity has a significant component of and connection to eligible activities, and also meets all grant, guidance, statutory, regulatory, or other restrictions, the activity is eligible. For example, a groundwater project that considers the connection with surface water is eligible. Monitoring activities are eligible and can be used as a baseline for Section 4B5f “Environmental Results, Step 6) Established Baseline for Measurement” [Page 11].
No. Only projects that address farmers’ crop production are eligible under this type of project. However, it would still be eligible as a Watershed Improvement Project.
The Watershed Improvement Grant is specific to EPA Region 7, and is a special grant we have created to address a Regional Strategic Priority. EPA Region 7 will manage these grants directly with the applicant. This grant is different from Clean Water Act Section 319 grants in that: 1) EPA Region 7 directly selects and manages the grants; 2) state agencies are also eligible applicants; and 3) a nine-element watershed plan is not required.
In order to assess the strength of your proposal and the likelihood of your project being funded, you may compare your proposal against the criteria and assigned points, as stated in Section 5A (Pages 16-18). All proposals will be reviewed and ranked using these criteria. Section 5B (Pages 18-19) gives additional information regarding the review and selection process. Qualified EPA staff will review the proposals and make funding recommendations to the EPA Regional Administrator. The final selection by the Regional Administrator will be based upon these recommendations and five additional factors: agricultural pesticide funds available, geographic distribution of funds, diversity of projects, diversity of watershed size, and cost of project. The RFP estimates funding projects that cost between $50,000 and $100,000, but there is no requirement or criteria to be within this range. This is an estimate only, and is a factor that the Regional Administrator may take into account in the final funding decision.
Enough detail is needed to meet all of the content requirements listed in Section 4B (Pages 8-13) and provide information for the criteria listed in Section 5 (Pages 16-18). The level of detail should be balanced with the need for ease of review by EPA Region 7 by staying within about 11 pages that are double-spaced and easily readable (Page 8). EPA reviewers will use the information provided in your proposal to review and rank proposals according to the Section 5B criteria. The only exception is Section 5A, Criteria 11, “Program Capability (12 points)”, where EPA has stated that other sources of relevant information may be considered including agency files and prior/current grantors (also Section 4B5j). Section 4B5b “Detailed Itemization of Amounts Budgeted by Object Class Categories” refers to those categories given in the SF-424A form (e.g., personnel, supplies). Generally, one page of explanation is sufficient. For example, the narrative for personnel would explain the number and type of personnel, their wages, and estimated work spent on the project (hours, months, and percent of time). Letters of support do not count toward the 11 pages.
10. I am having difficulty with the Grants.gov Website. Who can I call for help?
First consider reviewing the Grants.gov Customer Support Website, which lists helpful information including frequently asked questions, a user guide, and references. If these resources do not provide the support you need, call the Grants.gov Contact Center directly at 1-800-518-4726 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No cost share is required for the proposal to be eligible (Section 3B, Page 6). Leveraging of funds is encouraged and may be demonstrated in various ways. This is referred to in Section 4B5i “Major Partnerships” [Page 11] and Section 5A3 “Strong Partnerships and Leveraging Funds (15 points)” [Page 16].
An application is longer and more detailed than a proposal. For an application, there will be 1) additional forms; 2) requirements to include in the workplan; and 3) additional workplan details to clarify the work to be done and whether all statutes and regulations will be met. If your proposal is selected, additional details and next steps will be included in the notification letter.
We anticipate that notifications of proposals selected will be sent no later than July 11, 2006, depending on the number of proposals received. The project will start when the grant is awarded, even if the activities do not start until spring of 2007. The award date likely will be no earlier than late August 2006 and no later than October 1, 2006. Generally, eligible activities should be of a relatively short time frame of one to three years (Page 5).p>