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Contact EPA Pacific Southwest

Pacific Southwest, Region 9

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

Managing Your Special Appropriation Act Project

EPA is often directed to provide funding to a specific entity for water infrastructure projects. These are not part of an established program and are limited to the special situations defined in EPA's annual Appropriations Act.

EPA does not, however, advocate or nominate entities for drinking water, wastewater, stormwater or other water infrastructure projects for directed funding. If, however, you are a community or other entity which has been identified in one of EPA's Appropriation Acts to receive funding for an eligible water infrastructure projects, the information which follows will be of interest to you if:

  • you are responsible for getting the funding for the project, or
  • you will be responsible for overseeing the project to completion.

The following information explains how you apply for the funding, get paid, and what your responsibilities are after you have received the funding. It contains links for getting the forms which must be completed. The forms can be completed on screen and printed for mailing. All information can be read on screen or downloaded.

Each year EPA publishes guidelines for the award of Special Appropriation projects, which must be followed to award these grants. EPA may not award funds until the guidelines are published. So, if you received funds in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 Appropriation which runs from 10-1-2009 to 9/30/2010 usually EPA Headquarters would have published the guidelines by May 31, 2010. Below are links to past years guidelines.

EPA is required to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and a series of cross cutting laws and regulations prior to awarding funds in most cases. This will require you to complete the suggested outline for the environmental information document (EID) and the EID checklist and provide it to your EPA Project Officer. Once received and accepted by EPA, we need to consult with numerous agencies and then publish our tenative decision. We then invite public comments and consider all comments received.

This on-line training course is designed to help you prepare an acceptable EID: Environmental Review Training for Special Appropriation Grants

Your EPA Project Officer will work with you to develop an acceptable work plan which contains measureable environmental results and whenever feasable incorporate recommended environmental best practices.

EPA-Recommended Environmental Best Practices for Federally-Funded Projects (PDF) (4 pp, 78k) (Green Grant Practices)

We hope you find this information helpful. (Please contact your EPA Project Officer for programmatic questions and your EPA Grants Specialist for Administrative Questions.)

Frequent Questions

Click on a question to open or close its answer.

1. Who should I call with questions? »

For programmatic questions, contact your EPA Grant Project Officer.

If you uncertain who your project officer is, you may contact Joe Jung (Jung.Joe@epa.gov) at (415) 972-3583 to determine if an assignment has been made.

Beginning is October 2001, EPA has authorized to take 3% of each earmark appropriation for project management. The funds may be used to fund the State, Corps of Engineer or for contractor support for the management and oversight of the special projects. This means that the set-aside monies cannot be used to pay for EPA staff or travel expenses. EPA Region 9 utilizes the 3% set-aside to fund a national contractor to conduct on-site project inspections for those projects under EPA Region 9 oversight.

Additionally, the government’s budget usually gets cut across the board and a small rescission is often taken from all our funding, including earmarks. It varies from year to year and will be specified in the guidelines.

2. What kind of projects may be included? »

Each earmark has corresponding language in the appropriations bill. The scope of work must fall within that language. For instance, if the language in the bill specifies wastewater infrastructure improvements the grant couldn’t fund the upgrading of drinking water mains.

To get a language change, you should request the change through your sponsoring federal House of Representatives Member or Senator. They then must get it approved and changed in the following year’s appropriation bill. You may also request a language change by submitting your request to your EPA Project Officer (PO). The PO will submit the request to the Water Division Grant Coordinator who will submit your request To EPA Headquarters. Headquarters will submit requests to the Appropriation Committee for consideration.

3. What is the non-federal match requirement? »

There is a requirement for a 45% non-federal match. This means that you must pay at least 45% of the total project cost, not 45% of the federal amount being provided.
Use the following formulas to calculate the total project cost and your required minimum match amount.

Total Project Cost = Federal Grant Amount / 0.55
Minimum Match Amount = Total Project Cost x 0.45

For example, if your federal grant amount is $275,000, then the total project cost is $275,000 / 0.55 = $500,000

Your minimum match amount is $500,000 x 0.45 = $225,000.
The recipient share of the project funding may not come from another federal funding source, unless that source is specifically allowed to match other Federal funds. There are a number of Federal sources which can be used as local match:

  • Department of Agriculture, Rural Development program;
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development, Community Development Block Grant Program;
  • Appalachian Regional Commission Grants

State Revolving Loan Funds (SRF) may also be used in some situations. You must check with your state’s State Revolving Fund contact to determine whether this is an option for your particular project.

Also, you are not required to include your entire matching grant or loan on the EPA grant application. For instance, if you have a rural development grant for $2 million and you only need $300,000 in local match for the earmark grant, you don’t have to include the entire $2 million. You may include only what is necessary.

4. What must I send to EPA Region 9 in order to gain access to the funds? »

Although these funds have been earmarked for your organization, you still have to go through the grant application process in order to gain access to the funds. The EPA Project Officer will mail the applicant a Guidance Letter outlining specific requirements for your project and further information in how to obtain an “Application Kit” needed to apply for the grant funds.

All Applicants Must Submit the Following:

4.a. Project Workplan

The project workplan is where you tell us exactly what you are going to do with the funding.

Your Workplan Should Include the Following

  • Project Title: Please be consistent with the grant application.
  • Applicant Name: Please be consistent with the grant application.
  • Project Description and Activities:
    • Describe the overall project.
    • Is it multi-phased?
    • What are those phases and which is being funded with this grant?
    • The project must be consistent with the earmark language in the appropriations bill.
    • Specify which activities (planning, design, construction) are to be completed with EPA & local match funds.
    • Deliverables/Work products to be completed and a timeline for
          completion. The deliverables must be measurable.
      • Project Schedule that provides a plan of action (i.e., project schedule with milestones and outputs) and indicates when the proposed work will be accomplished.
      • Incremental steps to accomplish the work products (tasks)
      • Breakdown of the costs associated with the work products and tasks
      • A statement explaining the source of the required matching funds; i.e., whether the match will be provided by the applicant and/or other sources, and how much from each source
      • Measures used to evaluate the success of the work products
      • Have necessary permits been applied for and granted?
      • Describe how you will comply with federal procurement requirements.
      • The expected environmental benefits and how you will determine if the project has successfully achieved the expected benefits including the environmental outcomes resulting from this project. The results must be quantifiable and measurable.
      • Please provide facility plans.
      • Provide a location map of the proposed activities, including either a NPDES permit number, a SDWIS number or the latitude and longitude of the project area.
      • If this is a combined sewer overflow project, describe how it is in conformance with EPA’s Combined Sewer Overflow Control Policy?
      • Reporting requirements that include quarterly reports and a final report which includes an assessment of how effective the project was in achieving the stated environmental and public health objectives. The quarterly report schedule is as follows:
        Reporting Period  Report Due Date
        January 1 - March 31 April 30
        April 1 - June 30 July 31
        July 1 - September 30  October 31
        October 1 - December 31 January 31
4.b. NEPA and Cross Cutting Laws, Orders And Regulations Compliance

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires Federal agencies to assess the potential impact on the environment of the projects they fund. This includes assessing requirements relating to various Federal laws, including the Endangered Species Act, the National Historic Preservation Act etc.

Federal laws that apply across Federal agencies are referred to as cross-cutters (see 7b).

EPA Region 9 uses the completed Environmental Information Document as the basis for its NEPA review. The NEPA review generally concludes with either a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or a Categorical Exclusion determination. We cannot award funds for work beyond the conceptual design stage until our environmental review is completed. If you need funds in order to get your project started before the environmental review is completed, you can break your project into phases as follows:

  • Phase 1: Preliminary work, site surveys and assessment, problem evaluation
  • Phase 2: EID documentation including cross cutter documentation, all remaining preliminary work.
  • Phase 3: Design and Construction

Should you choose this approach, you will still need to submit the application forms, certifications and the project workplan for the initial grant award which must only include phase 1 and 2 activities.

You need to complete Suggested Environmental Outline (PDF) (19 pp, 118K) and the Suggested Environmental Checklist used for evaluation (PDF) (12 pp, 153K)

In order to assist you, we provide a training course and an review guide:

4.c. Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) (if applicable)

Any project funded under an EPA grant which calls for the collection of data requires a QAPP. The purpose of the QAPP is to develop the data quality objectives and describe how the data will be used in order to ensure that the data collected is useful and is collected according to approved methods.

4.d. Indirect cost rate agreement (if applicable)

If you will be including indirect cost in the budget, you will need to include a copy of your organization’s indirect cost rate agreement from your cognizant federal agency with your application.

4.e. Force Account

Recipients Who Intend to Use Force Account (PDF) (2 pp, 23k)


Grantees must document that they have the staff, experience, and equipment to perform the task to perform project building tasks using their own forces (“force account”).


Local government grantees sometimes have facilities and staff able to perform minor municipal repair work. Usually, though, local governments do not have the staff, experience, or equipment required to plan, design, construct, and inspect major infrastructure construction projects.

Project building tasks are generally performed by specialized architect/engineers and construction contractors under contract to the grantee. Occasionally larger local governments wish to perform some of this work using their own forces. To ensure the grant-funded project will be completed successfully, the responsible oversight agency (either state oversight review agency or the EPA Project Officer and Grants Specialist should confirm the grantee’s ability to undertake and complete the work they propose to perform. This decision is based upon the documentation provider by the recipient as discussed below. A short analysis summarizing the requirements below ending with a signed statement by the responsible official that they have the capabilities and systems in place will suffice.

  • Grantees must provide a discussion which addresses how they have the ability to design, construct, or provide construction support services for the project. This discussion must address both technical ability (skills, experience, and availability of equipment and labor) and managerial ability (management and clerical skills, experience, availability). Experience and expertise may cover all or a portion of the project. For instance, a grantee may have a lot of experience in installing water lines. This experience could support the use of force account for installing sewer lines.
  • Grantees must show that the use of force account will be cost-effective.
  • Direct costs (salary, FICA, and other direct employee benefit costs) must be supported by time and attendance records. Time cards must show all hours worked and identify the different cost objectives (working on this project versus constructing sewers in another part of the community not related to the project). The time cards must be signed by the employee’s supervisor.
  • If indirect costs are being claimed, a cost allocation plan, as described in OMB Circular A-87, must be prepared and submitted to EPA for review and approval (if required) . Check with your Grants Specialist.
  • Force Account work is limited to work that the recipient can demonstrate is within the technical skill and managerial ability of the recipient and its forces. Smaller organizations often have the equipment and ability to handle sewer/water line construction, small paving jobs, fencing, landscaping and even installation of grinder pumps, as long as item #1 is met. More complex projects that involve specialized experience and equipment should be done by an independent contractor that is procured in accordance with Part 31 regulations (sealed, competitive bids).
  • An independent resident inspector should be hired to inspect the force account work. Procurement of the resident inspector must comply with the Part 31 regulations. By providing an independent inspector, grant recipients will avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Grant recipients remain subject to the MBE/WBE requirements. Where opportunities exist to utilize MBE/WBE firms (such as purchasing of equipment/supplies, pipe, manholes, electrical components, etc.), the grantee must document that the 6 affirmative steps (Part 31.36 (e)) were comp

4.f. Procurement

It's extremely important that grant recipients follow federal grant requirements as outlined in the federal code of regulations. Failure to follow federal regulations when procuring services could result in repayment of grant funds. We provide the following three documents for your use to ensure you comply with the requirements. However, this does not relieve you of you responsibility to be familiar with the requirements and regulations.

4.g. Region 9 EPA Grants Website

Region 9 EPA Grants Management Office has the following website to assists applicants with grant requirements, managing grants with applicable forms, and funding opportunities.

5. May I be reimbursed for pre-award costs? »

According the guidelines, if necessary, you can incur costs prior to the award of the grant in very limited situations. If you have incurred pre-award costs and wish to include them in the grant, please consult with your EPA grant project officer prior to including those activities in your work plan. If approved, you will also need to submit supporting documentation of what those costs were, how much they were, when they were incurred and the latest inspection report available, as well as relevant contract materials.

Remember that pre-award costs are only eligible for reimbursement if the costs were incurred according to EPA regulations.

6. How do I get a reduction or waiver of the local match? »

Occasionally, there will be situations when organizations will be in fiscal emergency. When this occurs, there is potential for a reduction or waiver of the local match. The process for this is outlined in the guidelines. We utilize the March 1997 document entitled Combined Sewer Overflows: Guidance for Financial Capability Assessment and Schedule Development (PDF) (62 pp, 2.3M). This document includes a process for measuring the financial impact of current and proposed wastewater treatment facilities and drinking water facilities on the users of those facilities, and establishes a procedure for assessing financial capability. The assessment process requires the calculation of a financial capability indicator. The Agency approves waivers in those cases where the financial capability indicator shows that the project would result in a high financial burden on the users of the facility.

Exceptions to the 45 percent match requirement must be approved by EPA Headquarters via a recommendation from the EPA Regional Office.

7. What are the Project Guidelines and Regulatory Requirements and Restrictions? »

The EPA Office of Water publishes annual guidelines for the special appropriation projects. Although EPA cannot award funds for a specific fiscal year until that year’s guidelines are final, an organization is encouraged to submit their application to EPA Region 9 to get the review process started prior to the guidelines being released. 

7.a. Special Appropriation Guidelines

The EPA Office of Water publishes annual guidelines for the special appropriation projects. Although EPA cannot award funds for a specific fiscal year until that year’s guidelines are final, an organization is encouraged to submit their application to EPA Region 9 to get the review process started prior to the guidelines being released.

7.b. Cross-Cutter Authorities

Federal laws that apply across Federal agencies are referred to as cross-cutters. They are listed below as well as in the guidelines.

Cross-Cutting Federal Authorities for Special Appropriations Act Projects

Many of the links in this table lead to pages or documents outside of the EPA Web site. Use your browser's Back button to return to this page.

Environmental Authorities

Economic and Miscellaneous Authorities

Civil Rights, Nondiscrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity Authorities

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Authorities

7.c. 40 CFR 30 :Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals and Other Non-Profit Organizations

  • The grant regulations with which nonprofit entities, hospitals and universities must comply.

7.d. 40 CFR 31: Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments

  • The grant regulations with which state, local and tribal governments must comply.

7.e. 40 CFR Part 6 Subparts A, B, C, and D: Procedures for Implementing the Requirements of the Council on Environmental Quality on the National Environmental Policy Act

  • The grant regulations governing NEPA

7.f. 40 CFR Part 25: Public Participation in Programs under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Clean Water Act.

  • The grant regulations governing public notification.
7.g. OMB Circulars
  • OMB Circulars Website
  • Administrative Requirements
    • A-102 (rev.) Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants to State and Local Governments (also known as the Common Rule)
    • A-110 (rev.) Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants With Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations
  • Cost Principles
    • A-21 (rev.) Cost Principles for Educational Institutions
    • A-87 (rev.) (PDF), (57 pp, 200k) Cost Principles for State, Local, and Indian Tribal Governments
    • A-122 (rev.) (PDF), (55 pp, 220k) Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations
  • Audits
    • A-133 (rev.) (PDF), (33 pp, 180k) Audits of States, Local Governments, and Other Non-Profit Organizations
7.h. Purchasing Supplies, Equipment and Services Under the Grant
7.i. MBE/WBE Utilization
7.j. National Term on Suspension and Debarment

8. How do I access my funds after the grant has been awarded? »

Earmark grants are paid on a reimbursement basis and require documentation to support the expenses you are claiming. Contact your EPA Grant Project Officer or Anna Woods at the Las Vegas Finance Center at (702) 798-2496 for additional information.  You will not be sent a check upon award of your grant.

9. Who should I submit the grant application package to? »

The complete grant application package should be mailed to:

EPA Region 9 Mailing address:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9, MTS-7
Grants Management Office
75 Hawthorne St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
Fax (415) 947-3556
Prior to submitting your application, you must be in contact with your EPA Grant Project Officer to negotiate your work plan and your Grants Specialist for administrative issues.

10. What should I do after I receive the grant award document? »

  1. Receiving the Award Document
  2. Post Award Management
    1. Required progress reports
    2. Administrative Reporting
    3. On-Site Inspections
  3. Grant Close-Out
    1. Final Project Report
    2. Project Completion Certification
    3. Final Inspection report (if applicable)
    4. Final Financial Status Report
    5. Final MBE/WBE
    6. Lobbying and Litigation Certificate
10.a. Receiving the Award Document

Our goal is to make grant awards in a timely manner after receiving a complete application. Complete means the application is complete and signed; our project officer has reviewed and approved the workplan, the grants specialist  has approved the administrative aspects  and a final NEPA determination has been made.

When the grant is awarded, you will either receive a cover letter and one electronically signed  hardcopy award document or you may receive an electronically signed - pdf award document via email.  Review the award document carefully, including the terms and conditions. When your organization signs the award document, they are agreeing to everything in it. Note, there are two EPA contacts listed on the first page of the award. One is the project officer, whom you have been working with and is located in the Water Division. The other is the grant spe