Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program

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

 As a precautionary response to COVID-19, Ohio EPA is currently operating with most staff working remotely. If you are working with our staff on a current project and you know the name of the employee you are working with, email them at firstname.lastname@epa.ohio.gov or call them directly. The Agency website has contact information for every district, division, and office. In order to reach us, please contact Ohio EPA’s main phone line at (614) 644-3020 or the main line for the division or office you are trying to reach.

After March 23, our district offices and Central Office will be temporarily closed and will have increasingly limited ability to receive deliveries, plans, etc. All entities are encouraged to submit plans, permit applications, etc., electronically where there are existing avenues to do so, such as the eBusiness Center (eBiz). Please refer to the list of available services on the main eBiz webpage. We encourage you to make use of all that apply, even if you have not used eBiz in the past. Plans under 25 MB can be emailed. For large plans over 25 MB, entities should work with the reviewer/division to upload via LiquidFiles. Directions for submitting docs via LiquidFiles is available on YouTube. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you in advance for your understanding. If you wish to send hard copies of documents to any of Ohio EPA’s district offices, the best method to ensure we receive these documents is to send them via U.S. Mail. Since all offices are closed, deliveries outside of U.S. Mail (FedEx, UPS) will likely be returned because the offices are closed and deliveries cannot be made.

To report a spill or environmental emergency, contact the spill hotline (800) 282-9378 or (614) 224-0946

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 goal, 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 and/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 Updated (6-23-2020)

For the July 2020 nomination period (projects receiving funding in either 2021 or 2022) 

  • WRRSP Nominations for funding in Program Year 2021 or 2022 will be accepted August 1 – 28, 2020.
  • The WRRSP Unit is implementing a new pre-nomination procedure that will include a requirement for implementers to submit a Pre-Nomination Site Review Request Form. WRRSP staff will conduct a desktop review of the site based on the form. Upon completion of our desktop review, we will coordinate a conference call or video conference to discuss the project.

New requirements from last year that will continue to be required

  • Pre-nomination meetings/site visits are required for projects to be considered for funding
    NOTE: As of March 9, 2020, and until further notice, in response to COVID-19, Agency staff are under Travel Restrictions. Therefore, instead of conducting Pre-nomination meetings/site visits, Implementers must submit a Pre-nomination Site Review Request Form 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 nominations are submitted. 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.
  • Baseline habitat assessments for existing aquatic resources, including the ORAM for wetlands and QHEI or HHEI for streams, must be submitted in the nomination form. Projects with both habitat and biological assessments will be given priority over those based only on habitat assessments. For restoration projects, both habitat and bioassessment post-restoration target scores are required.
  • Revised guidance for managing hunting within WRRSP properties.
  • 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 of Deliverables for 2021 Nominations
April, 2020 WRRSP Webinar
Now - July 31, 2020 Submit your Pre-Nomination Site Review Request Form for review.
Now - July 31, 2020 Complete your project’s water resources assessments.
Now - July 31, 2020 Complete your project’s WRRSP Nomination Form.
Aug. 1 - 28, 2020 Submit your WRRSP project nominations for WPCLF Program Year 2021/Inclusion in the WPCLF Program Management Plan.
October, 2020 The 2021 WPCLF Program Management Plan is issued draft – this includes the list of Proposed fundable WRRSP projects.
December 2020 The 2021 WPCLF Program Management Plan issued final – the PMP includes the list of 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.

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 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.

Who can be an implementer? 

Entities that implement WRRSP projects may include non‐profit conservation organizations, park districts, political sub‐divisions and even 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. During the first year, Implementers work toward a final management plan and environmental covenant, identifying a Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) sponsor and obtaining a Letter of Intent from that sponsor, and identifying the project delivery method (design-bid-build or design-build). Projects using the traditional design-bid-built method must prepare details plans for review in year 1. Projects using the design-build method must develop a detailed Request for Qualifications (RFQ) and/or Request for Proposal (RFP) during year 1. Only when these activities have been successfully completed may a project be funded during year 2 and at the same time the sponsoring WPCLF loan is awarded.
  • Recognizing the need to sometimes provide funding quicker, DEFA now offers a 1-year cycle for protection projects that meet “readiness-to proceed” criteria. For more information, see the important details provided below.

Schedule for projects from the 2020 Program Management Plan (PMP)
intended for funding in 2021 (Standard two-year WRRSP cycle)

 
April 1, 2020 Draft Management Plan Due (for review and comment)
May 1, 2020 Full Appraisal Report Due (if not previously submitted)
June 1, 2020 Draft Environmental Covenant Due (including exhibits: Exhibit A includes the legal description of the property and Exhibit B includes the map and any encumbrances)
Oct. 31, 2020 - Approvable Final Management Plan Due
- Draft Request for Proposals (design-build projects)
- Draft detailed designs including detail plans and specifications (60% for design-bid-build projects)
- Mutually agreed upon final Environmental Covenant
Dec. 29, 2020 Letter of Intent 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 Review Request Now - July 31 Submit Pre-nomination Site Review Request Form, then conduct conference call or video call to discuss the project before submitting a WRRSP project nomination form.
Nomination Period Aug. 1 - 28, 2020 Call for nominations. Submit WRRSP Project Nomination form to DEFA.
Scoring and Ranking Aug. 31 - Oct. 30 Nominated projects are evaluated for eligibility, then scored and ranked by WRRSP staff.
Placement on the Project Priority List Oct. 31 - Dec. 31 Projects that score within fundable range are listed on the Intended Projects List in the annual Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) Program Management Plan (PMP).
Year One 2021 Implementers work with WRRSP staff to complete program milestones including the development of a Management Plan and an Environmental Covenant.
Year Two 2022 Funding for 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 preservation projects that can demonstrate ,during the nomination period, that they meet all program requirements]
Pre-nomination Site Review Request Now - July 31 or further notice Submit Pre-nomination Site Review Request Form, then conduct conference call or video call to discuss the project before submitting a WRRSP project nomination form.
Nomination Period Aug. 1 - 28, 2020 Call for nominations.
Submit WRRSP Project Nomination form to DEFA.
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,
  • an executed purchase agreement, and
  • a full appraisal report.
Scoring and Ranking Aug. 31 - Oct. 30 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, before the WPCLF Program Management Plan is made final for the upcoming program year.
Placement on the Project Priority List Oct. 31 - Dec. 31 Projects that score within fundable range are listed on the Intended Projects List in the PMP.
Year One 2021 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 

NOTE: As of March 9, 2020, and until further notice, in response to COVID-19, Agency staff are under Travel Restrictions. Therefore, instead of conducting Pre-nomination meetings/site visits, Implementers must submit a Pre-nomination Site Review Request Form for projects to be considered for funding.

Prior to submitting your project nomination, it is mandatory that you submit a Pre-Nomination Site Review Request Form.  WRRSP staff will conduct a desktop review of the site based on the form.  Upon completion of our desktop review, we will coordinate a conference or video conference call to discuss the project.  To allow for the most productive discussion, provide high quality maps, exhibits, photos and data forms.  Use one Pre-nomination form for each project.   Keep in mind that corridor projects involving multiple non-adjacent parcels may need multiple Pre-nomination Forms.

The mandatory submittal of a Pre-Nomination Site Review Request Form is necessary only for any new sites not previously visited by WRRSP staff or when a project is being revised from a previous site visit or nomination.

Nominating a Project 

Each year, Ohio EPA invites entities with potential WRRSP projects to nominate them for inclusion in either the fast-track or two-year funding cycle. Complete WRRSP nomination forms will be accepted August 1 - 28, 2020 for the following Program Year. Projects are then scored, ranked and placed on the Intended Projects List in the WPCLF Program Management Plan (PMP).

Environmental Covenants 

All WRRSP projects require the placement of an Environmental Covenant (EC) on any and all acreage acquired with WRRSP funds. The EC includes use restrictions for the purpose of upholding the site’s conservation values, in perpetuity. Parties to the covenant include the property owner, holder and Ohio EPA.

Finding A Sponsor 

Since WRRSP projects involve an interest rate discount for the WPCLF sponsoring loan recipient, implementers are solely responsible for contacting potential sponsors. 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 sponsors 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 restrictions and responsibilities identified in the Management Plan and the Environmental 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.

Submit annual reports to Mike Kelly.

Implementer Documents

Additional documents are available on the Resources tab.

Who can be a sponsor? 

Any WPCLF loan recipient may 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 WRRSP 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.

Potential sponsors may contact the WRRSP team members to see what projects may be available to sponsor. Sponsors can also look at the final WPCLF PMP’s WRRSP Intended Project list.

Sponsor Benefits

WRRSP projects involve an interest rate discount for the WPCLF sponsoring loan recipient. One or more (if needed) sponsoring projects must be scheduled for award in the appropriate program year and generate enough interest to cover the cost of the WRRSP project. Sponsors may identify potential WRRSP projects 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.

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.
  • WPCLF 2020 Program Management Plan (PMP) — 2020 Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) Program Management Plan (PMP)

Read the 2019 WRRSP Progress Report

Distribution of WRRSP Funding and Projects in Ohio 2000-2017

Other Funding Opportunities

Clean Ohio Fund – Ohio Department of Development – restores, protects and connects Ohio’s important natural and urban places by preserving green space and farmland, improving outdoor recreation and cleaning up brownfields to encourage redevelopment and revitalize communities.

Clean Water Act Section 319(h) Grants – Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water - targeted to Ohio waters where nonpoint source pollution is a significant cause of aquatic life use impairments. Ohio’s 319 program works with watershed groups and others who are implementing locally developed watershed management plans and restoring surface waters impaired by NPS pollution.
Contact: John Mathews

H2Ohio – Ohio Department of Natural Resources - focused on creating, restoring or enhancing wetlands to benefit water quality.

Lake Erie Protection Fund – Ohio Lake Erie Commission - established to finance research and on-the-ground projects aimed at protecting, preserving and restoring Lake Erie and its watershed.
Contact: Lynn Garrity

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.
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
Laake, Ryan WRRSP Engineering Supervisor (614) 644-3669
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
     

 

DEFA WRRSP Webinar Part 2 News and Program Year 2021 Updates – June 11, 2020

View the Webinar Part 2 PowerPoint slides


DEFA WRRSP Q&A Part 1 - April 23, 2020

View the Q&A PowerPoint slides

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