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Contact EPA Pacific Southwest Water Division

Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Watershed Priorities

San Francisco Bay Fund 2009: Frequent Questions

You may submit questions
to Luisa Valiela via Email.

We are able to respond to questions from individual applicants regarding:

  • threshold eligibility criteria,
  • administrative issues related to the submission of the proposal,
  • and requests for clarification about this open announcement.

Additional answers will post on this web page periodically.

To help you prepare your proposal, here are answers to FAQ about the SF Bay Fund 2009 announcement.

FAQ Topics On This Page


What is the San Francisco Bay Area Water Quality Improvement Fund (SF Bay Fund)?

This is the second year of funding for the SF Bay Fund which is the result of a Congressional appropriation for partnership competitive grants that leverage additional funds for the protection and restoration of San Francisco Bay watersheds.  This year EPA Region 9 is soliciting proposals to fund implementation projects that achieve significant and measurable improvement in water quality and the attainment of beneficial uses for the San Francisco Bay and its watersheds.  EPA is seeking proposals based on sound plans to achieve significant results concerning one or more of the following water quality priorities:

  • Reducing polluted run-off from urban development and agriculture.
  • Implementing TMDLs to restore impaired water quality.
  • Protecting and restoring habitat including riparian corridors, floodplains, wetlands, and the Bay.

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Environmental Outputs and Outcomes

What are "Outputs and Outcomes"?

Outputs and outcomes are explained in Section I.C of the RFP. 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 for the FY2009 funds must include specific statements describing the environmental results of the proposed project in terms of well-defined "outputs" and "outcomes".

The term "output" means an activity, effort, or associated work product related to an environmental goal or objective that will be produced or provided over the period of time of the project funding. The term "outcome" means an environmental result, affect or consequence that will occur from carrying out an environmental program or activity that is related to an environmental or programmatic goal or objective.  Outcomes may be environmental, behavioral, health-related or programmatic in nature, but must be quantitative.  Outcomes to be achieved beyond the assistance agreement funding period should be included.  Special emphasis should be placed on specifying quantitative outcomes related to the achievement of water quality objectives and the protection of beneficial uses.

Please refer to the Section I. Funding Opportunity Description in the RFP for a more complete discussion and examples of outputs and outcomes as they relate to this program.

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

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) can 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. 

Are both types of activities (institutional capacity building and on-the-ground) eligible?

Yes. EPA is encouraging proposals that achieve direct environmental benefits and provide for more widespread and ongoing implementation through establishing institutional capacity.  The following are some examples of both on-the-ground watershed restoration activities and institutional capacity building activities that are eligible under this RFP. 

On-the-Ground Restoration Examples:

  • Implementing BMP's (including LID) to reduce effective impervious surfaces in priority 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.
  • Replacing a culvert and/or drainage pipe to re-connect small stream and wetland courses (or possibly filtering swales) such that affects from stormwater are reduced.

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 by protecting and restoring wetland, riparian, upland, and near shore habitats, and ecological processes.
  • Implement watershed-based, interagency monitoring and decision systems to foster coordinated adaptive management to achieve TMDL and related aquatic resource protection goals.
  • Increase data and information available to local decision-makers who write and implement laws, ordinances, and permits.
  • Refine and implement watershed and land use plans based on watershed models predicting hydrologic impacts of alternative, future land cover conditions, development scenarios, and resulting aquatic resource conditions.

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TMDLs and Watershed Plans

Why is EPA emphasizing the implementation based on TMDLS, watershed plans and other quantitative water quality assessments and plans?

EPA's national experience overseeing state nonpoint source (NPS) programs has lead us to the conclusion that significant environmental results are more likely where 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 Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), 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)

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

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. However, EPA is encouraging proposals that address stormwater to go beyond the regulatory requirements of the permit. Through this solicitation, we emphasize connections between land use decisions and watershed planning and management across watersheds to address both existing and future development. Stormwater prevention could be addressed on a comprehensive watershed scale through:

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

These are just a few examples of the types of eligible activities that would help to address stormwater issues, yet go beyond stormwater permit requirements.

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

The following entities are eligible to apply for funding: interstate, intrastate, state, and local government agencies; public, private or quasi-public nonprofit institutions/organizations; international organizations; Federally recognized Tribes or certain Intertribal Consortia; U.S. territories or possessions; and public/private institutions of higher education.  Federal agencies are not eligible to receive direct grant awards under this announcement unless statutorily authorized to do so.  Nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying activities as defined in Section 3 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 are not eligible to apply.  Other entities may be eligible for subwards and subcontracts where appropriate as partners for a particular project.  See more details on subawards in Section IV(G) of the funding announcement.  An intertribal consortium must meet the definition of eligibility under 40 CFR 35.504 (66 FR 3782. January 16, 2001) (FRL-6929-5).

What types of projects are eligible for funding?

This announcement seeks to fund implementation projects that achieve significant and measurable improvement in water quality and attainment of beneficial uses.  A wide range of projects are eligible, though successful proposals are expected to have some combination of the following attributes:

  • Involve partnerships that lead to significant environmental results concerning one or more of the following SF Bay water quality priorities:
    • Reducing polluted run-off from urban development and agriculture.
    • Implementing TMDLs to restore impaired waterbodies.
    • Protecting and restoring habitat including riparian corridors, floodplains, wetlands, and the Bay.
  • Activities based on data, analysis and information contained in TMDLs, watershed plans and related assessments.
  • Priority activities that will achieve significant environmental results within a specified timeframe.
  • Involve agencies and organizations that have purview over water quality and land use decisions. 
  • Include natural resource managers to protect and restore watershed functions and values. 
  • Proposals concerned with stormwater are encouraged to address “retrofitting” of our existing developed areas and sustainability of new development. 
  • Establish institutional capacity (e.g. local ordinances, zoning, etc.) or other methods to remove barriers to widespread utilization of innovative practices and provide for ongoing water quality improvement.
  • Integration with comprehensive water quality and land use management efforts such as the San Francisco Estuary Project’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP), the Bay Area Integrated Water Resource Management Plan (IWRMP), the SF Bay Regional Monitoring Program (RMP), and the Association of Bay Area Government’s FOCUS Project, as well as local general plans, stormwater management plans, and TMDL Implementation Plans. 

All proposals that include a monitoring component should be compatible with the California Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP) and the San Francisco Bay Regional Monitoring Program (RMP).  All proposals should include an information transfer component to promote the use of project results by other San Francisco Bay watersheds.

The EPA guide, Tips On Writing a Grant Proposal, may also be helpful.

Should a proposal only address one watershed or can it address several watersheds (e.g., for comparative purposes) as long as the watersheds, or the sub-units, have clearly defined boundaries?

Yes.  A proposal can address one or more watersheds. EPA wants to see applicants using a watershed approach.

What types of projects are ineligible for funding?

Only proposals that meet that meet all of the threshold eligibility criteria in Section III.D will be evaluated against the ranking factors (See Section V) of this announcement.  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.

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.  If proposals are submitted that include more than 20 percent of the requested funding to be used in a subaward competition component, that portion of the proposals will be ineligible for funding.

Can organizations submit multiple or repeat proposals?

An organization may submit more than one proposal. There is no limit on the number of proposals submitted by an entity.

Can an applicant submit two applications for two different (but loosely related) projects or should they put those together into one application?

Yes.  EPA will consider multiple proposals submitted from one organization. It is really up to the applicant to decide how to submit their proposals.

How much funding is available and what is the most and least that I could apply for?

The total amount anticipated to be awarded under this announcement is $5 million.   EPA anticipates awarding 1 to 5 grants under this solicitation.  Awards will range from approximately $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 of federal funds with each project period being up to four years.  Applicants must provide a minimum non-federal match of 25 percent of the total cost of the project. 

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Match Requirement

Is there a match requirement?

Section III, B of the RFP states that a minimum non-federal match of 25% of the total cost of the project is required. 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.

Regarding the 25% match requirement, is that 25% of the requested amount, or 25% of the total project cost?

In the solicitation announcement, EPA states that the match must cover 25% of the total cost of the project(s). This means that EPA will support up to 75% of the project. For example, if the total project cost is $1,500,000, the applicant must provide $375,000 in matching funds or services and the federal portion would be $1,125,000.  To calculate the correct match amount use the following formula:

Formula: (Federal Portion / .75) - Federal Portion = Match

Can the state provide some of the in-kind match?

Yes.  All or part of the match can come from the state. It can be in the form of cash or in-kind contributions.

What is considered to be an in-kind match?

In-kind contributions can be 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).

How do I "certify" my match?

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.

Regarding in-kind contributions, can contributions from activities that are on-going or have been completed count toward the match requirement?

The value of the in-kind contributions must be an estimate of future contributions that will be utilized during the project period. Services that have already occurred can be helpful in determining what the estimate should be but cannot count toward the 25% match requirement.

The solicitation announcement states that federal funds cannot be used toward the match unless authorized by the statute governing their use. What does this mean?

This means that funds obtained via another federal grant cannot be factored into the 25% match calculation. These funds can certainly be used to support or supplement the work being done, but cannot be considered "matching funds".  There are some federal statutes, however, that allow awarded funds to be used as matching dollars. (The Clean Water Act is not one of them.) For example, P.L. 638, administered through the Bureau of Indian Affairs specifically states that federal tribal money disbursed under the statute can be used for matching purposes. If a nominee wishes to use federal funds as part of the match requirement, it is incumbent upon them to provide the citation in the law that allows them to do so.

What is the value of volunteer time?

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.

"Gather written statements from the volunteers testifying to their commitment to volunteer services to your program. Remember, these must be like services. For an attorney to be valued at $40.00/hr. in your program, he/she must be providing legal services to you - not driving children to football games every Saturday. These statements establish the value of the volunteered time. They also are good credibility letters from persons sufficiently impressed with you to volunteer. Volunteers who have not the needed skills to qualify for a specific role, and who have not been paid a salary in that role, must be rated at the current minimum wage. This happens no matter how well they perform."

What is the difference between the match and leveraged resources?

Proposals are encouraged to leverage additional resources (beyond the required minimum 25% match).  The match must be detailed in the application (Standard Form 424A and the Budget Information/Proposal Narrative).  Information on leveraging should be provided in the Proposal Narrative but not on the Standard Form 424A.  Leveraged resources are the same type of resources that are used to develop the match, cash and in-kind services.

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How Can Contracts Be Used

Can funding be used for the applicant to make subawards, acquire contract services, or fund partnerships?

Yes in accordance with the Contracts and Subawards/Subgrants requirements in Section V.G 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.

How will an applicant's proposed subawardees/subgrantees and contractors be considered during the evaluation process described in Section V of the announcement?

Section V of the announcement describes the evaluation criteria and evaluation process that will be used by EPA to make selections under this announcement. During this evaluation, except for those criteria that relate to the applicant's own qualifications, past performance, and reporting history, the review panel will consider, as appropriate and relevant, the qualifications, expertise, and experience of named subawardees/subgrantees and/or named contractors during the proposal evaluation process as long as the applicant complies with the requirements in Section V.G.

Can you further explain the restriction on subawards in excess of 20% of the requested funding?

The 20% restriction is referring to a smaller-scaled competition within the proposal scope. While subgrants or subawards to third parties are eligible under this announcement, proposals containing a subaward project to regrant funds to third parties via a smaller-scale competition cannot exceed more than 20 percent of the total requested funding amount.

If proposals are submitted that include a subaward competition component that is more than 20 percent of the requested funding, that portion of the proposal will be ineligible for funding. 

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Putting Together Your Proposal Package

Where do I start?

You should start by closely reading the funding announcement.  Determine your eligibility by reviewing the Threshold Evaluation Criteria (Section III.D) and Funding Restrictions (Section III.E). Carefully consider the Program Priorities (Section I.B) and Evaluation Criteria (Section IV.A) to develop your proposed activities to achieve your specific outputs and outcomes in a manner that will maximize your ranking in the selection process. 

What kind of materials do I need to submit?

To be considered for a SF Bay Fund grant, EPA requires that each submission contain a set of common elements that are described in Section IV.C (Content of Proposal Submission).  The materials that must be included in the proposal package include: Standard Form 424, Application for Federal Assistance, Standard Form 424A, Budget Information and Proposal Narrative.  

What is the submission deadline?

Proposals must be received by EPA via mail, hand-delivery, express delivery service, or by email by 5:00pm Pacific Standard Time on September 23, 2009, as specified in Section IV of this announcement, on or before the proposal submission deadline published in Section IV of this announcement.  Applicants are responsible for ensuring that their proposals reach the designated person/office specified in Section IV of the announcement by the submission deadline. 

Are there any forms required?

EPA is requiring that two forms be submitted as part of the proposal package. A signed SF 424 form is now required at this stage. In addition, all applicants must provide a detailed breakdown of cost by category for each project and submit the information on the Standard Budget Form, SF 424A. Both forms can be found online at www.epa.gov/ogd/AppKit/application.htm. Selected watershed organizations will have to subsequently submit a final workplan and all other required forms.

What happens after the deadline? When will the final decision be made?

All proposals received by EPA will be evaluated against the threshold criteria listed in Section III Eligibility Information of this announcement. Proposals that do not pass the threshold review will not be considered for funding, and the applicant will be so notified.

All eligible proposals will be evaluated by the EPA Region 9 Selection Committee which will score and rank proposals using the evaluation criteria above in Section V.A.  The Committee will consist of EPA staff and may also include representatives from other Federal agencies.  Final selection will be made by the Director of the EPA Region 9 Water Division based on the selection committee rankings as well as programmatic diversity, available funds and geographic diversity.

All applicants, including those who are not selected for funding, will be notified in writing on or around October 30, 2009 either by email or U.S. Postal Service.  Successful applicant(s) will be invited to submit a complete application package prior to award (see 40 CFR 30.12 and 31.10) that will be due approximately 30 days after being notified. Required forms and instructions for preparing and submitting the completed application will be provided at that time.

How do I submit an additional question that has not been addressed in this document?

We are able to respond to questions from individual applicants regarding threshold eligibility criteria, administrative issues related to the submission of the proposal, and requests for clarification about the announcement. You may submit your questions via email to Luisa Valiela at Valiela.luisa@epa.gov.  Additional answers to questions will be posted on this page.

Additional Questions and Answers

How do I know if my project requires compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and can my budget include NEPA costs? 

If your proposed implementation project includes on-the-ground activities (e.g., installation of storm water controls, BMPs for sediment control from vineyards, wetlands restoration, etc.) you will need to comply with NEPA.  Compliance with NEPA is intended to mitigate adverse environmental impacts and maximize the environmental protection of proposed actions.  NEPA is required for a wide range of federal actions, including for certain projects funded through EPA annual Appropriations Acts. Complying with NEPA can range from finding your project categorically exempt from preparing an environmental document to having to prepare an environmental document, and can include consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  

If NEPA compliance has not been completed, it is possible for you to include these costs in your proposed project budget.  If your proposal is selected, EPA will negotiate as to the best way to proceed with cost recovery for this component of the project.  

Does EPA provide guidance on how to estimate costs for monitoring and what monitoring should entail?

EPA expects the applicant to be able to budget out appropriate monitoring costs associated with measuring success of a particular project, using appropriate scientific expertise and current methods.  EPA encourages collaboration with partnership organizations that have expertise in monitoring if an applicant needs assistance in determining appropriate indicators or measures of success.  Please review this following EPA link which provides overall guidance on how to develop Quality Assurance Project Plans for the monitoring that is appropriate to your project. 

Is land acquisition eligible as a project type if it meets the RFP criteria?

Yes, land acquisition 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.

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