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Monitoring Initiative Grants under Section 106 of the Clean Water Act

Each year, EPA provides approximately $18.5 million in Section 106 funding to states (including the District of Columbia and territories), eligible interstate agencies, and eligible tribes to support ambient water quality monitoring programs and implement a multi-year, statistically valid survey of the condition of the nation’s waters to track changes over time.

In 2005, Congress began appropriating additional funds within Section 106 grants to support this Monitoring Initiative. This was done in response to reports indicating that EPA and states did not have all the monitoring data needed to support the full range of water programs, make statistically valid statements about the condition of waters across the nation, and track changes over time. The Monitoring Initiative allows EPA, states, territories, and eligible tribes to report on the condition of the nation’s waters and track changes and trends in water quality over time in a scientifically defensible manner.

On this page:

Is there guidance for the Monitoring Initiative?

EPA has developed guidance to assist states, interstate agencies, and tribes with the award requirements and process:

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How can Section 106 Monitoring Initiative funds be used?

Monitoring Initiative funds are targeted for enhancing monitoring programs and providing statistically valid reports on water conditions throughout the nation.

  • Enhancing monitoring programs: A portion of Monitoring Initiative funds are provided to states, eligible interstate agencies, and eligible tribes to enhance existing monitoring efforts and help them achieve their long-term monitoring program goals. Each state has completed a monitoring strategy as outlined in the March 2003 guidance document, "Elements of a State Water Monitoring and Assessment Program." This guidance provides the recommended elements of a state water monitoring program and calls for states to develop monitoring strategies and timelines for enhancing their monitoring programs.
  • Statistically valid reports on water conditions: EPA, states, eligible tribes, and eligible interstate agencies have used Monitoring Initiative funds to undertake a series of statistically valid surveys, known as the National Aquatic Resource Surveys (NARS). NARS provides statistically valid national assessments of the condition of the nation’s waters (streams and rivers, lakes, coastal waters, and wetlands). Approximately 1,000 locations across the continental United States are randomly selected and sampled by states and eligible tribes using the same protocols and methods annually. Each year a different type of waterbody is sampled.

How are Monitoring Initiative funds allocated?   You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.

Monitoring Initiative funds are allocated to states, eligible interstate agencies, and eligible tribes using a formula that targets funds to enhance monitoring strategies and develop statistically valid reports on water condition.

The allocation approach is based on the president's budget and congressional appropriation language. EPA developed this allocation formula in consultation with states. See the Code of Federal Regulations for the basis and components of the Allotment Formula for the Section 106 Program (40 CFR Part 35.162(d)) (PDF). (4 pp, 284 K, About PDF)

  • Enhancing monitoring strategies: Approximately $10 million is provided annually to implement monitoring strategies and enhance monitoring programs. Each state receives an equal share of the funding, with territories receiving half of a state’s share. In addition, each year, the eligible interstate agencies share approximately $250,000 (distributed to the agencies through the existing allocation formula), and eligible tribal programs share approximately $500,000 (distributed to EPA regional offices through the tribal allocation formula).
  • Statistically valid reports on water conditions: EPA, states and other partners collaborate to design the National Aquatic Resource Surveys, which cover the continental United States. For each sampling site selected through the survey design that falls within their jurisdiction, a state, eligible interstate agency, or eligible tribe receives approximately $8,000. Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories are not included in the National Aquatic Resource Surveys but receive some of this funding for statistical survey projects.

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Additional Guidelines

EPA developed guidelines to set out the process for allocating Monitoring Initiative funds. The guidelines also outine specific activities states must undertake to be eligible for this funding. Access the official versions of the guidelines in the Federal Register:

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