Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program

Countering the loss of ecological function and biological diversity that jeopardize the health of Ohio's water resources.

Created by Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance (DEFA) in 2000, the Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP) advances interest monies from Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) sponsor projects to fund preservation and restoration of the state’s water resources.

Water resources are among Ohio’s most valuable assets; while significant progress has been made to maintain and improve these resources, habitat degradation, hydromodification, and siltation continue to impair overall water quality.

The goal of the WRRSP is to counter the loss of ecological function and biological diversity that jeopardize the health of Ohio's water resources. To achieve this, the WRRSP provides funding for projects that specifically target the protection and restoration of high-quality streams and wetlands.

To qualify for WRRSP funding, projects must result in the full protection or restoration of targeted aquatic resource; streams must either be in attainment of, or fully restored to, warmwater habitat or higher aquatic life use under Ohio Water Quality Standards, and wetlands must achieve or be fully restored to Ohio Rapid Assessment Method Category 3 status.

Program Updates 

For the July 2019 nomination period (projects receiving funding in either 2020 or 2021) 

  • Pre-nomination meetings/site visits are required for projects to be considered for funding. 
  • Acquisition and/or restoration of parcels with perpetual leases or severed mineral rights, regardless of when the severance took place, will not be eligible for WRRSP funding. 
  • Implementers will be limited to no more than five open WRRSP projects at the time of nomination. All required annual reports for previous projects awarded to the implementer must have been submitted to DEFA in order to be considered for funding for any additional projects. 
  • Projects with both habitat and biological assessment data will be given priority over those based only on habitat assessments. For restoration projects, both habitat and bioassessment post-restoration target scores are required.
  • For all nominations, habitat assessments are required. If both habitat and biological assessments are submitted, those projects may be given precedence.
  • Revised guidance for managing hunting within WRRSP Covenant areas will be available soon. 
  • Please note that a one‐year “fast track” funding option is available for specific types of “ready to proceed” protection projects only.
New Items for the 2019 Nominations
April 24, 2019 WRRSP Webinar Watch the recorded version of this presentation
Now - July 15, 2019 Schedule your project’s pre-nomination site visit. Contact any WRRSP team member.
Now - July 31, 2019 Complete your project’s water resources assessments.
Now - Aug. 31, 2019 Complete your project’s WRRSP Nomination Form.
Aug. 1 –31, 2019 DEFA will be accepting WRRSP project nominations for WPCLF PY2020/ inclusion in the PMP.
December 2019 The 2020 PMP is issued final. The PMP includes a list of the Intended WRRSP projects for the Fast-Track one-year cycle and the Standard two-year cycle.
 

 

New Documents and Publications 

For questions, please contact Steve Malone by email or call (614) 644-3663. You may also contact any of the WRRSP specialists listed on the Contacts tab.

Within the WPCLF, the WRRSP is a specialized sponsorship program as opposed to a traditional grant program. Funding is generated by individual WPCLF loans that sponsor WRRSP protection and/or restoration projects. Key stakeholders in the WRRSP program include implementers and sponsors.

Who can be an implementer? 

Entities that implement WRRSP projects may include non‐profit conservation organizations, park districts, political sub‐divisions and WPCLF loan recipients. Implementers partner with sponsors during the appropriate program year and, in anticipation of the revenue stream that would have been generated by the sponsoring WPCLF loan, DEFA advances a portion of this funding for the WRRSP project.

Project Schedules

For most projects, the WRRSP operates on a two‐year cycle. These projects include all restoration activities and most protection projects that will require time for Management Plan and Environmental Covenant development. For these projects, the first year will be spent working with WRRSP staff to complete milestones that will ensure the project is ready for award during the second year. Please note that a one‐year “fast track” funding option is available for specific types of “ready to proceed” protection projects only; see below for additional, important details. 

Schedule for projects from the 2019 Program Management Plan (PMP)
intended for funding in 2020 (Standard two-year WRRSP cycle)

 
April 1, 2019 Draft Management Plan Due (for review and comment)
May 1, 2019 Full Appraisal Report Due (if not previously submitted)
June 3, 2019 Draft Environmental Covenant Due (including Exhibits)
Oct. 31, 2019 Approvable Final Management Plan Due
Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2020 Funding for projects will be available after the sponsoring WPCLF project’s loan has been awarded in tandem with the WRRSP project.
 


Schedule for projects to be nominated in 2019
for the 2020 PMP (2020-2021 WRRSP two-year cycle)

 
April 1, 2020 Draft Management Plan Due (for review and comment)
May 1, 2020 Full Appraisal Report Due (if not previously submitted)
June 3, 2020 Draft Environmental Covenant Due (including Exhibits)
Oct. 31, 2020 Approvable Final Management Plan Due
Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2021 Funding for projects will be available after the sponsoring WPCLF project’s loan has been awarded in tandem with the WRRSP project.
 

  

Project Timelines

Summary of WRRSP Project Timeline (2-Year Cycle)
 
Pre-nomination Site Visit Schedule with WRRSP staff and conduct to view water resources before nominating (required)
Nomination Period Call for nominations (Aug. 1 - 31)
Scoring and Ranking Nominated projects are evaluated for eligibility, then scored and ranked by WRRSP staff.
Placement on the Project Priority List Projects that score within fundable range and appear to be implementable are listed on the Intended Projects List in the annual Program Management Plan (PMP).
Year One Implementers work with WRRSP staff to complete program milestones including the development of a Management Plan and an Environmental Covenant.
Year Two Funding for the projects will be available after the sponsoring WPCLF loan has been awarded in tandem with the WRRSP project
   


Summary of WRRSP Project Timeline (1-Year Cycle)

 
[One-year cycle “fast-track” projects are for preservation projects that can demonstrate during the nomination period that they meet all program requirements]
Pre-nomination Site Visit Schedule with WRRSP staff and conduct to view water resources before nominating (required)
Nomination Period Call for nominations (Aug. 1 - 31) The nomination must include:
  • justification for an early award
  • a draft Management Plan
  • a “clean” title search (i.e. no encumbrance or ownership issues)
  • a draft Environmental Covenant (including final exhibits)
  • an executed purchase agreement
  • full appraisal report, and
  • a Letter of Intent for the project’s sponsor
Scoring and Ranking Nominated projects are evaluated for eligibility, then scored and ranked by WRRSP staff. A one-year funding award is not guaranteed: All required documents must be reviewed and approved by WRRSP staff, and documents must be finalized before the WPCLF Program Management Plan is made final for the upcoming program year.
Placement on the Project Priority List Projects that score within fundable range are listed on the Intended Projects List in the PMP.
Year One All program requirements will be finalized. Funding for the WRRSP one-year cycle projects will be available after the sponsoring WPCLF loan has been awarded in tandem with the WRRSP project.
   

 

Pre-nomination Meeting 

When preparing your nomination, it’s very important that you contact DEFA to schedule a conference call for the purpose of discussing your potential project. By providing initial feedback, we’re able to ensure that your project complies with programmatic requirements and help you identify ways to improve your project’s competitiveness. If your project is a “good fit” for our funding, a pre-nomination site visit is required. This allows us to provide feedback during project development and become familiar with any on-site aquatic resources.

Nominating a Project 

Each year, Ohio EPA invites entities with potential WRRSP projects to nominate them for inclusion in our upcoming fast-track or two-year funding cycle. Complete nominations are typically accepted from August 1-31 for the following WPCLF Program Year. Projects are then then scored, ranked, and placed on the Intended Projects List in the WPCLF PMP.

Environmental Covenants 

Regardless of whether or not a project site is being acquired with WRRSP funds, all WRRSP projects require the placement of an Environmental Covenant (EC) on all property being acquired and/or restored. The EC includes use restrictions for the purpose of upholding the site’s conservation values. Parties to the covenant include the property owner, holder, and Ohio EPA.

Finding A Sponsor 

Since WRRSP project involves an interest rate discount for the WPCLF loan recipient, implementers are solely responsible for contacting potential sponsors. One or more sponsoring projects must be scheduled for award in the appropriate program year and generate enough interest to cover the cost of the WRRSP project. Implementers may identify potential sponsor by reviewing the draft and final IPL within the annual WPCLF PMP. Note that a WRRSP project may have multiple WPCLF sponsors and/or sponsoring loans.

Monitoring 

Project monitoring is necessary to determine whether the site’s conservation values have been met/upheld. The Sponsor and the Implementer agree that the perpetual protection and maintenance of the WRRSP Project shall be carried out in accordance with the responsibilities identified in the Plan and the Covenant.

Annual Reporting 

For all projects, an annual report shall be submitted to DEFA after EC recording . The annual report must document project monitoring, any changes on the property or with the project, amount of acreage restored or protected, including acreages of various habitat types, and progress of any on-going work

Implementer Documents

Additional documents are available on the Resources tab. The 2019 WRRSP Nomination Form (projects for the 2020 PMP) will be posted here soon. 

Within the WPCLF, the WRRSP is a specialized sponsorship program, as opposed to a traditional grant program. Funding is generated by individual WPCLF loans sponsoring WRRSP protection and/or restoration projects. Key stakeholders in the WRRSP program include implementers and sponsors. 

Who can be a sponsor? 

WPCLF loan recipients can voluntarily agree to sponsor a WRRSP project as part of their loan by entering into a formal sponsorship agreement with the WRRSP project implementer. In return, the sponsor receives an interest rate discount of up to .1% on their WPCLF loan and assumes indirect oversight responsibility of project implementation.

Finding an Implementer/WRRSP Project 

Potential sponsors may contact the WRRSP team members to see what projects may be available to sponsor.

Sponsor Responsibilities 

The sponsor and implementer have a common purpose of completing the WRRSP project in accordance with the plan to protect and improve water resources within the State of Ohio.

Sponsor Documents

  • Letter of Intent (Word) (PDF) — A sponsor must submit a letter of intent to Ohio EPA DEFA. This letter states the sponsor’s intentions to enter into a sponsorship agreement for the purpose of implementing a selected WRRSP project.
  • Resolution (Word) (PDF) — After submitting the Letter of Intent, a resolution must be passed by the governing board of the sponsoring entity and submitted to Ohio EPA DEFA in the second year of the two-year cycle in advance of the sponsoring loan award. The resolution confirms that the entity will sponsor the WRRSP project for an amount up to the amount shown on the WRRSP Intended Projects List. 
  • Sponsorship Agreement (Word) (PDF) —A sponsorship agreement is passed along with the sponsoring resolution.

Read the 2019 WRRSP Progress Report

Distribution of WRRSP Funding and Projects in Ohio 2000-2017

Documents

Resources

  • Amphibian Index of Biotic Integrity - AmphIBI - Field manual for the Amphibian Index of Biotic Integrity for Wetlands – A manual that documents the application, sampling, laboratory and data analysis procedures necessary to calculate the AmphIBI for wetlands. It is intended to standardize monitoring techniques for the use for the use of wetland biological assessments using amphibians as an indicator taxa.
  • Appraisers List – WRRSP property appraisers must be selected from the list of ODNR pre-qualified appraisers
  • Aquatic Life Use Designations - found in the Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3745- 1 Water Quality Standards 
  • HHEI manual - Field Evaluation Manual for Ohio’s Primary Headwater Habitat Streams/Headwater Habitat Evaluation Index – A tool to provide standardized assessment methodologies for primary headwater habitat streams in Ohio. The manual presents methods that Ohio EPA has developed to better assess the actual and expected biological conditions in these waterways, and it outlines an acceptable methodology on how to classify primary headwater habitat streams. 
  • HMFEI - Headwater Habitat Macroinvertebrate Field Evaluation Index — a rapid bio-assessment field sampling method of benthic macroinvertebrates. (located in the HHEI manual
  • HUC 12 watershed map – The U.S. Geological Survey designated 12-digit hydrologic unit codes for Ohio's 1,538 watershed assessment units (WAUs). 
  • IBI – Index of Biotic Integrity — biological criteria that is incorporated into the Ohio Water Quality Standards consisting of numeric values based on fish assemblage data.
  • ICI - Invertebrate Community Index — biological criteria that is incorporated into the Ohio Water Quality Standards consisting of numeric values based on macroinvertebrate assemblage data. 
  • Integrated Report — The Integrated Report meets both Clean Water Act 305(b) and 303(d) requirements, using a watershed assessment unit based on the 12-digit hydrologic unit. 
  • Ohio Water Development Authority — OWDA acts as the financial manager for the WRRSP and WPCLF programs. 
  • ORAM V.5 Manual and ORAM 10-page form — The Ohio Rapid Assessment Method for Wetlands (ORAM) Version 5.0 – The ORAM User’s Manual explains the underlying scientific rationale for the ORAM to provide detailed explanatory notes for the different sections and scores of the ORAM and to aid in the consistent use of the ORAM. The ORAM 10-page form consists of a series of questions used to properly categorize a wetland. 
  • QHEI manual and forms — Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index for evaluating stream habitat.
  • QHEI manual for Lake Erie shoreline — Methods of assessing habitat in Lake Erie shoreline waters using the Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index
  • Soil surveys – USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service. 
  • TMDL — Total Maximum Daily Load program - focuses on identifying and restoring polluted rivers, streams, lakes and other surface water bodies. Information about TMDLs and water quality monitoring are organized by large watershed.
  • VIBI – Vegetation Index of Biotic Integrity — a vegetation-based assessment tool that is used to identify indicators of wetland condition.
  • VIBI-FQ — Vegetation Index of Biotic Integrity “Floristic Quality” – an enhancement to the existing VIBI protocols. The VIBI-FQ represents a streamlined version of the VIBI which reduces the amount of field data necessary for the assessment and also simplifies the calculation and interpretation of a final score.

Frequently Asked Questions

WRRSP Eligibility and Funding Process 

Administered by Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance, the WPCLF provides below‐market financing to Ohio communities for the planning, design and construction of wastewater treatment facilities. Within the WPCLF, the WRRSP is a specialized sponsorship program, as opposed to a traditional grant program, whereby funding is generated by individual WPCLF loans sponsoring WRRSP protection and/or restoration projects. Key stakeholders in the WRRSP program include implementers and sponsors of wastewater infrastructure projects.

Eligible Activities 

To be eligible for WRRSP funding, project and costs must be directly related to restoring and/or protecting a site’s aquatic life use. Eligible projects include stream and wetland protection through fee‐simple property acquisition, and stream and wetland restoration that corrects impairments to on‐site aquatic resources. To qualify for WRRSP funding, a project must either by itself, or in concert with other past, present or future projects, result in the full protection or restoration of the aquatic resource. Streams must either be in attainment of, or be fully restored to, at least Warmwater Habitat or greater designated aquatic life use under Ohio Water Quality Standards. Wetlands must achieve, or be restored to, a Category 3 designation. Performance criteria include both habitat and biological assessment methods. The program is transitioning to requiring both pre‐ and post‐implementation biological assessments for all projects.

Ineligible Activities 

Projects such as trails, boardwalks, excessive upland recreational facilities and other structures, parking areas, equipment, projects that don’t meet water quality goals, required mitigation projects, appraisals, and in-house implementer costs are not eligible for WRRSP funding. Additionally, projects with severed mineral rights, encumbrances detrimental to the conservation values of the project, or other issues that may impede readiness-to-proceed may not be funded.

Project Selection 

Typically, up to $15 million is provided annually for WRRSP projects through a highly competitive nomination and award process. Nominations are accepted each year (usually in August) and project scoring is based on several criteria, including:

  • importance of the resource; 
  • restoration potential, and; 
  • overall effectiveness of the proposed project action. 

Once scored and ranked, fundable projects are identified in DEFA’s WPCLF Program Management Plan that is issued prior to the start of the WPCLF program year.

Phone: (614) 644-2798
Fax: (614) 644-3687
 
 

Physical address:
Ohio EPA - DEFA, OFA
Lazarus Government Center
50 W. Town St., Suite 700
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Mailing address:
Ohio EPA - DEFA, OFA
Lazarus Government Center
50 W. Town St., Suite 700
P.O. Box 1049
Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049 



Rose McLean, Angela Fentress, Tom Harcarik, Mike Kelly and Linda Merchant-Masonbrink

     
Malone, Steve WRRSP Manager (614) 644-3663
Dragovich, Joe WRRSP Engineering Supervisor (614) 644-3710
Fentress, Angela WRRSP Specialist (614) 644-3651
Harcarik, Tom WRRSP Specialist (614) 644-3639
Kelly, Mike WRRSP Specialist (614) 644-3644
Merchant-Masonbrink, Linda WRRSP Specialist (614) 644-3656
McLean, Rose WRRSP Specialist (614) 644-3664
     

 

 
 800-282-9378