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Drinking Water Tribal Set-Aside (DWTSA) Program

Grants to Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada
Tribes to Improve Public Water Infrastructure

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 9

Deadline Date:

11/22/19 Receipt


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Grants starting at $30,000 to Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Pacific Island Territory federally recognized tribes to improve infrastructure for public drinking water. Funding is intended to address significant public health hazards caused by inadequate infrastructure. Grants may be awarded directly to tribes or through interagency agreements with the Indian Health Service.

Infrastructure projects funded through the DWTSA must address the most significant threats to public health associated with public water systems that serve tribal populations. Examples of eligible activities include:

  • Rehabilitate or develop drinking water sources (excluding reservoirs, dams, water rights);
  • Install or upgrade drinking water treatment facilities;
  • Install or upgrade drinking water storage facilities;
  • Install or replace transmission and distribution pipes;
  • Replace aging infrastructure;
  • Install new transmission, distribution or service lines to connect existing homes to a public water supply;
  • Water efficiency projects (e.g., installation of meters);
  • Expansion, consolidation or development of a new public water system; and
  • Develop preliminary engineering reports (PERs).

Addendum 99-1 to the national guidelines allows funding for the creation of new community water systems to address existing public health problems caused by unsafe drinking water provided by individual wells or surface water sources. The policy also allows the creation of new regional community water systems which consolidate several existing systems that have technical, financial, or managerial difficulties. According to the national guidelines, new systems may be funded only if the following conditions are met:

  • Options for connection with adjacent public water systems have been fully explored and deemed unreasonable by the EPA Region;
  • Upon completion of the project, the entity created must meet the federal definition of a community water system;
  • Funding is limited to projects where an actual public health problem exists with documented health risks;
  • The project must be limited in scope to the specific geographic area affected by the health risk; and
  • The project can only be sized to accommodate a reasonable amount of growth expected over the life of the facility - growth cannot be a substantial portion of the project.
  • DWTSA funding can also be used to develop a preliminary engineering report, and for work to secure rights of way (though DWTSA funds cannot be used to purchase real property).

The national guidelines also allow EPA to consider funding unscheduled “emergency” projects after EPA uses its prioritization method to rank projects for a year. Such projects can include those where some type of failure was unanticipated or the result of natural disaster or an emergency and may require immediate attention to protect public health. In these cases, EPA has the authority to fund the emergency project provided it meets the requirements of the Drinking Water Tribal Set Aside Program.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 163446

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

Based on experience from previous years, EPA estimates that eight to twelve construction projects and a four to five planning projects may be selected for funding.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Projects may range in size from $30,000 to over $2 million.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Only federally recognized Indian tribes within EPA Region 9 may submit proposals that benefit eligible public water systems (PWS). Region 9 covers the States of Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada as well as the Pacific Islands of American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam

PWS eligibility is limited as follows:
- Only public water systems that are community water systems or non-profit, non-community water systems are eligible to receive funding;
- The water system must serve an Indian Tribe;
- The water system must be in compliance with the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations unless the project which is being funded will ensure compliance;
- The water system must be operated by adequately trained and certified operators.
- The water system utility must have or be able to develop the technical, financial and managerial capacity to properly maintain the water system.

According to §1452(g)(2), the Safe Drinking Water Act specifically disallows projects for:
-Supplementing the Public Water System Supervision Program;
-Administering or providing technical assistance through source water protection programs;
-Developing and implementing a capacity development strategy; and
-Administering an operator certification program.

According to §1452(k), the Safe Drinking Water Act specifically disallows projects for:
-Loans to water systems to acquire land or a conservation easement;
-Loans to any community water system to implement source water protection measures in delineated areas;
-Loans to any community water system to assist them with source water protection;
-Technical or financial assistance to any water system to carry out a capacity development strategy; and
-Implementation of a wellhead protection program.

According to the national guidelines, funding is not allowed for:
-Dams, or rehabilitation of dams;
-Water rights;
-Reservoirs (except for finished water reservoirs and those reservoirs that are part of the treatment process and are located on the treatment facility property);
-Projects that serve mainly commercial uses, including livestock watering;
-Projects needed primarily for fire protection;
-Compliance monitoring; and
-Projects for tasks that are considered routine operation and maintenance.

Pre-Application Information:

To be considered for FY20 DWTSA Funds, EPA Must Receive Proposals by November 22, 2019.

Important Dates:
- November 22, 2019: EPA must receive proposals by this date, including the proposal form. Proposals received after this date will not be considered for funding.
- January 2020: EPA will notify each applicant of the draft proposal priority and whether the project was selected to continue with the application process.
- March 2020: Applicants can submit comments on the draft prioritization. For projects selected to continue with the application process, applicants must submit responses to any EPA comments. All applicants, including applicants for planning projects, must complete capacity, financial and managerial checklists.
- April-August 2020: EPA will notify applicants of the final priority list and funding decision, along with guidance letters for projects to be funded by a grant.
- May-August 2020: Tribe submits grant application, or Indian Health Service submits draft Memorandum of Agreement and Project Summary (exact dates will be included in funding decision notification letters).
- September 2020: EPA awards funds for selected projects.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

E-mail one electronic copy of the proposal and any supporting documentation to Karly Ho:

Or mail one hard copy of the proposal and any supporting documentation to:
Karly Ho, WTR 4
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

Grant Coverage Areas:

Map of eligible Tribal lands in Region 9:

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Arizona;   California;   Hawaii;   Nevada

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

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