The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded the Hawaii Department of Health a $1.1M grant to implement its Polluted Runoff Control (PRC) Program and to support water quality improvement projects.
“EPA’s grant helps Hawaii reduce harmful stormwater runoff,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our goal, along with the Department of Health, is to protect coastal waters and coral reefs from the effects of polluted surface water.”
Hawaii DOH will contribute $746,000 in state funds to the EPA grant for a total budget of $1.91M to implement its state program developed under the authority of Section 319 of the federal Clean Water Act. Grant funds support both state staff and local organizations to develop and implement watershed plans to achieve water quality improvement goals. The funding is specifically for such nonpoint source water pollution control projects and cannot be used for other water pollution discharges or spills like the recent molasses spill into Honolulu Harbor.
This year, the PRC Program will update Hawaii’s State Management Program Plan for addressing polluted runoff over the next five years. The plan will identify strategic priorities, establish both environmental and program goals and milestones, and discuss how partners will be engaged to most effectively to improve water quality.
Recently, Hawaii DOH used Clean Water Act Section 319 funds to address land-based pollution in the West Maui area to protect coral reefs. West Maui is a priority area for the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force and the State of Hawaii Coral Program.
On-the-ground projects are strategically focused in specific watersheds to increase the likelihood of achieving environmental results. Previous competitively selected projects include:
Heeia Stream Restoration Project to stabilize eroding stream banks and restore native vegetation along the Heeia stream to reduce nutrient and sediment loads on windward Oahu.
Implementation of large scale agricultural management practices to reduce sediment and nutrient runoff in the Honouliuli Stream watershed.
A rain garden ‘how-to’ manual and the installation of several rain gardens to demonstrate an effective way to reduce the volume of polluted stormwater runoff in developed areas.
Installation of fencing in Maui mountain watersheds to reduce the impacts of feral ungulate populations in sensitive watershed areas.
The 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act established the Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program. Section 319 addresses the need for greater federal leadership to help focus state and local nonpoint source efforts. Under Section 319, states, territories and tribes receive grant money to support a wide variety of activities including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, restoratioin projects and monitoring efforts to assess progress toward water quality goals. EPA awards annual continuing program grants, based on a national distribution formula, to implement approved state programs.
The EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region (Region 9) administers and enforces federal environmental laws in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands and 148 tribal nations - home to more than 48 million people. The EPA is also a significant source of funding. In 2013, more than 85 percent of the $631M regional operating budget flowed to state and tribal agencies, local governments, non-profit organizations and private-sector companies in the form of grants and contracts. This funding pays for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, air pollution reduction programs, Superfund site cleanups and many other activities that protect human health and natural resources.