Equity and Environmental Justice in the Nonpoint Source Program
NPS Guidelines Revisions - Currently Available for Comment
The national NPS Program has released draft updated Guidelines for review until 12/31/23. For more information, click here.
On this page:
- Guiding documents and commitments
- Engagement notes and recordings
- Tribal Engagement
The national nonpoint source (NPS) program recognizes the importance of environmental justice (EJ) and is exploring how the program may expand investments for pollution reduction projects that ensure fair and equitable access to improved water quality. The program is making strides to understand how:
- past benefits have been distributed across the landscape,
- to address challenges that disadvantaged communities (DACs) are facing in the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section (§)319 grant process, and
- to bring historically silenced voices to the conversation about water quality benefits.
The CWA §319 program is considered a covered program by the Justice40 Initiative that was introduced with Executive Order (EO) 14008. These efforts rely on the language and terminology therein. Interim guidance from the Office of Management and Budget can be found here.
New information and materials will be posted on this site as it is finalized.
In March 2023, EPA released this memo that outlines EPA’s allocation plan for the FY23 CWA §319 appropriation, notably committing the $4 million increase in the appropriation above the FY22 level to the Tribal CWA §319 set-aside. This action represents a significant step towards EPA’s goal of increasing the Tribal CWA §319 set-aside meet Tribal NPS program staffing needs more fully. The FY23 Tribal set-aside will support increases to Tribal CWA §319 base grants via a revised allocation formula developed based on Tribal engagement over the last year.
- Individual FY23 Tribal CWA §319 base grant amounts can be found here: FY23 Tribal Allocation Table (pdf)
In September 2022, a follow up memo was issued to highlight efforts and actions taken to address identified barriers and to outline upcoming program changes. This memo includes information on EPA decisions and actions, including increasing:
- money that is set-aside from the overall CWA §319 appropriations to be spent supporting Tribal programs,
- flexibilities for CWA §319 funding in DACs and on Tribal/Nation lands, and
- efforts to offer assistance to address technical capacity.
In September 2021, the NPS program issued a memo encouraging state and territorial CWA §319 programs to assess and advance delivery of NPS benefits to disadvantaged communities and commits EPA to take a number of actions in support of this goal.
The NPS program has held quarterly meetings to update all grantees on efforts and progress since September 2021. These meetings have been recorded and can be found here:
- December 2021: Kick off Call
- March 2022: Quarterly Update
- June 2022: Quarterly Update
- October 2022: Quarterly Update
- February 2023: Quarterly Update
The nonpoint source program plans to continue quarterly updates with grantees on these efforts through 2023.
In 2022, the NPS program held listening sessions with all grantees, Tribal/Nation grantees specifically, Territories, and local watershed/community groups. These sessions were not recorded as a way to encourage open commentary, but comments were collected and have been compiled as a reference resource:
- All Grantee Listening Sessions Notes (pdf)
- R9 Territory Listening Session Notes (pdf)
- Subgrantee Listening Sessions Consolidated Notes (pdf)
After the grantee listening sessions, the EPA NPS equity team synthesized perspectives shared during those discussions to form topic specific workgroups. Each group discussed topics and barriers that were heard during the listening sessions. Final reports included synthesis of discussion, as well as a list of suggested actions to for EPA to consider in FY23 and beyond. Workgroup reports can be found here:
- Technical Capacity Workgroup Report (pdf)
- Partnerships and Funding Workgroup Report (pdf)
- Baseline Analysis Workgroup Report (pdf)
Recognizing that Tribal programs and staff face unique challenges from state grantees, Tribal specific engagements were held to allow discussion of these nuances.
An EPA/Tribal workgroup was formed to discuss potential actions to address the key challenges facing Tribal NPS programs. The following workgroup report identifies options EPA could consider to better support Tribal NPS programs and compiles current Tribal NPS program approaches for addressing these challenges.
A formal consultation process was also run in conjunction with this effort. A formal letter opening the consultation was sent to Tribal leaders and invited comments through two 60-day comment periods.
Comment Period 1: The first comment period took place from March 29, 2022 to May 27, 2022.
Comment Period 2: The second comment period took place from October 24, 2022 through December 23, 2022.
- Tribal Consultation Package: Comment Period 2 (pdf)
- Factsheet: Tribal Consultation Comment Period 2 (pdf)
- Tribal Consultation Summary: Comment Period 2 (pdf)
Additional information can be found on the EPA Tribal Consultation Opportunities Tracking System
This report summarizes methods and takeaways of pilot analytical assistance projects with three state Nonpoint Source (NPS programs). Each project applied the EPA Recovery Potential Screening (RPS) Tool to identify subwatersheds where NPS issues and disadvantaged communities co-occur. The subwatersheds identified with the RPS Tool can be further evaluated for designation as priorities for NPS management.
If you have questions on these materials or efforts, please reach out to Cyd Curtis (firstname.lastname@example.org). For Tribal specific questions, reach out to Steve Epting (email@example.com).