Rivers Alliance of Connecticut administers this small-grants program with funding from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. The program provides grants to local groups working on river-watershed protection. The goal is to reduce nonpoint source (NPS) pollution (essentially, pollution from stormwater run-off) and to improve and upgrade waters listed as impaired in the state's biannual report to the U.S. Congress. The 2016 report can be seen at DEEP's website. For more information on Connecticut's 319 Nonpoint Source Program, please refer to the CT DEEP Watershed Management Program and Nonpoint Source Management Program web pages.
The Watershed Assistance Small Grants Program (WASGP) began in 2001, with DEEP's understanding that each watercourse can benefit from the attention of those who know and love it. Local river-watershed groups are essential to raising public understanding of impairment by NPS pollution, as well as effectively protecting rivers and streams. These groups, however, often lack the resources to accomplish their aims for education and protection, especially in neglected or underserved areas. One advantage of a re-granting program such as the WASGP is that it not only provides financial help, it spares grantees much of the burden of government paperwork. Grantees can concentrate on doing the water work, while the administrators (DEEP and Rivers Alliance) do the paperwork.
The WASGP grants have contributed significantly to statewide stewardship of watercourses. The program has disbursed $266,116 to more than 40 groups, many of them start-ups, throughout Connecticut. These groups have been active in creating setbacks and buffers to shield streams from polluted stormwater, in water-quality reconnaissance monitoring, and in watershed studies and education.
The program delivers tremendous value in terms of ongoing protection per dollar spent. Over the years, WASGP projects have leveraged over $522,350 in matching funds. Many grantees attest that WASGP funding has been invaluable to important projects, both as direct support and indirectly, as leading to further funding from other sources. The program is well known, well liked, and very effective.