More About the Section 319 Program
Congress amended the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1987 to establish the Section 319 Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Program because it recognized the need for greater federal leadership to help focus state and local NPS efforts. Under Section 319, State, Territories, and Indian Tribes receive grant money which support a wide variety of activities including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects, and monitoring to assess the success of specific NPS implementation projects. Over the last few years, some section 319 funds have been dedicated to implementing TMDLs (total maximum daily load).
During the last 15 years, our country has made significant headway in addressing NPS pollution. At the federal level, recent NPS control programs include the NPS Management Program established by the 1987 Clean Water Act Amendments, and the Coastal NPS Pollution Program established by the 1990 Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments. Other recent federal programs, as well as state, territorial, tribal and local programs also tackle NPS problems. More information is available from the following links:
Section 319 projects are implementation oriented and must offer a means of moving towards a resolution of the non-point source pollution problems identified as part of the project.
Section 319 projects can address the implementation of total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) to address impaired waters.
Section 319 projects can also be demonstration or educational projects. Demonstration projects typically have a statewide or regional focus and are not about familiar uses of well-established technologies or best management practices. Education projects are required to have a strong technology/information transfer component
A sampling of past demonstration/education projects includes: development and delivery of an education program on restoring native shoreline vegetation, co-sponsoring statewide water conferences; a personalized educational program on nutrient management for farmers, with key information on a central Web site; a project to evaluate and demonstrate effective techniques and systems to reduce pollution coming from dairy milk houses, and a project to examine converting tailings basins into wetlands.
Recent projects include: restoration of Miller Creek, an urban trout stream, on-going and long term improvement of Mountain Lake, increasing water clarity from less than a foot to 7 feet; the Red Lake River project aimed at correcting erosion problems, removing a dam hazard, protecting the city of Crookston’s infrastructure and improving fish habitat; and the Elk Creek Conservation Tillage Incentive program to offer farmers incentives to prevent loss of valuable topsoil.
Level of Funding: Grant
For the past several years over $3,000,000 has been available for funding nonpoint source projects through the Section 319 program. The funding is dependent on the federal budget and is based on the federal fiscal year, which runs from October 1 to September 30. Starting with the 2003 federal fiscal year, 43 % of the Section 319 grant money is to be spent on Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) implementation.
TMDLs are part of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). Water quality standards define how much of a pollutant can be in surface and/or ground water while still allowing it to meet its designated uses, such as for drinking water, fishing, swimming, irrigation or industrial purposes. Many of Minnesota’s water resources cannot currently meet their designated uses because of pollution problems from a combination of point and nonpoint sources. For each pollutant that causes a water body to fail to meet state water quality standards, the federal Clean Water Act requires the MPCA to conduct a TMDL study. Once the study is conducted, a plan with various implementation steps is developed to restore the water resource back to its designated use. Section 319 money is used for these implementation activities.
More information on Section 319 program requirements can be found on the U.S. EPA Web site:
- U. S. EPA 319 guidance
- Information on writing a WRAS
- General information the Section 319 Program
MPCA Program Contact
Regional Environmental Management
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
520 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155-4194