On April 8, 2021, the California State Water Resources Control Board announced that it will use $4.4 million of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant to fund watershed restoration projects in seven counties around the state. EPA’s Nonpoint Source Program grant assists the State Board in implementing programs to address pollution caused by runoff moving over the ground, known as nonpoint source pollution.
The Marin Resource Conservation District was awarded over $700,000 by the State Board for its Conserving Our Watersheds Program. This project helps ranchers within the Point Reyes National Seashore prevent nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment, and bacteria from livestock operations from running off into Tomales Bay. Tomales Bay supports oyster production and recreational activities including kayaking and fishing.
“EPA is proud to promote Marin County’s conservation program which supports effective agricultural stewardship practices that reduce sediment, nutrient, and bacteria runoff,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Water Division Director Tomás Torres. “We are pleased that this grant has empowered local stakeholders to improve water quality and the ecological health of Marin County’s watersheds.”
Six other nonpoint source projects selected by the State Board are also being supported through this EPA funding.
Four of the projects address riparian habitat restoration:
- California Trout Inc. was awarded $674,000 for Hart Ranch Stock Watering and Riparian Fence Project to support riparian restoration in the Little Shasta River in Siskiyou County;
- The Eel River Recovery Project was awarded $474,000 for Tenmile Creek Streambank Erosion Prevention and Riparian Restoration Project in Mendocino County;
- The Truckee River Watershed Council was awarded $590,000 for Phase 1 of the Euer Valley Restoration Project in Nevada County; and
- The Napa County Department of Public Works was awarded $800,000 for Phase 2 of the Napa River Restoration: Oakville to Oak Knoll, Group D, in Napa County.
Two projects address post-wildfire conditions:
- The Earth Island Institute and South Coast Habitat Restoration were awarded $799,000 for the Carpinteria Creek Sediment Reduction and Habitat Enhancement Project in Santa Barbara County; and
- The Sonoma County Resource Conservation District was awarded $342,000 for Post-Fire Recovery and Sediment Reduction in Mark West Creek in Sonoma County.
Since 2004, the State Board has awarded over $65 million of EPA grant funds for local projects that reduce runoff pollution into California’s waters. The projects make waters safer for people and wildlife by preventing sediment erosion from rural roads and wildfire-impacted areas, controlling pollution from grazing and livestock operations, supporting farmers to plant cover crops to improve soil health, and restoring stream habitat affected by legacy timber activities.
“Federal investment in nonpoint source solutions means the Water Board can support the Tomales Bay project and similar projects that are making water safer for our communities,” said Joaquin Esquivel, Chair, California State Water Resources Control Board. “When federal, state, and local leadership are aligned, opportunities to protect California’s most vulnerable watersheds expand exponentially.”
In December, EPA approved California’s 2020-2025 Nonpoint Source Program Implementation Plan, which made the State Board eligible for EPA grant funds to support their programs. In 2021, the State Board is eligible to apply for $9 million in federal funds to support statewide programs to address priority nonpoint sources of pollution, conduct inspections, and work with stakeholders to find effective solutions for water quality problems.
Photo of Point Reyes National Seashore is by Francine Wai / Sierra Club.