After three years of work and almost 1,000 comments to the Department of Ecology by WEC supporters, changes to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) makes new funding available to local governments, tribes and their conservation partners to protect working forestland at a watershed scale.

What is the Clean Water State Revolving Fund?

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) is administered by the Washington Department of Ecology (ECY) and provides low-interest loans to local governments (towns, cities and counties), tribes and their partners for water quality improvement projects.

Where does the funding for the CWSRF come from?

The CWSRF is guided by the Clean Water Act (CWA) and is funded by both federal and state sources as well as the principal and interest repaid on previous loans.

How can the CWSRF be used to protect land?

CWSRF loans can be used to finance land acquisition, including the purchase of a conservation easement, to protect the quality of streams, rivers and other local drinking water sources.

How do recent rules changes allow CWSRF to protect more land?

Previously, the CWSRF only provided funding for land acquisition that protected wetland areas. New rules changes, that become effective on September 9, 2017, expand the land area eligible for preservation and protection to the entire watershed. This includes riparian corridors and upland areas not immediately adjacent to streams and rivers.

Why is important to protect water quality at the watershed scale? 

Water quality and availability depends on what happens across an entire watershed and not just in the wetland and riparian zone. In forested areas, research has shown that older forests use less water than younger forests. This allows for higher stream flows for drinking water and fish migration during critical times of the year. With new funding available for land acquisition at the watershed scale, local governments, tribes and their conservation partners can better protect older forests and use tools like conservation easements to promote sustainable management practices that better protect water quality.

Why are these rules changes important for working forest conservation?

By expanding the area eligible for land acquisition funding to include the entire watershed, land trusts and community forests, in partnership with local governments and tribes, can access loans of up to $10 million to protect working forests. At a low-interest rate (typically under 2.5%), costs to acquire land or purchase a conservation easement could then be accounted for through lower-impact and ecologically responsible commercial thinning operations rather than with more heavy-handed industrial forestry practices.

How long is the loan-service period?

The CWSRF loan period can be up to 30 years.

Is there a deadline to apply?

The current application period for funding closes on October 16, 2017.

When are CWSRF awards distributed?

Loans secured through the CWSRF are awarded the following summer after a period of review and public comment.

How do organizations apply for funding from the CWSRF?

ECY reviews all applications for funding. Applications must be submitted using the EAGL platform hosted on the ECY website here.

What is an example of a successful land acquisition projects with CWSRF?

In 2017, the Skagit County Public Utility District received more than $1.5 million dollars, at a 2% interest rate, to help purchase 250 acres of forestland along Gilligan Creek. This purchase will transition the land away from industrial forest management and protect an estimated 40% of the watershed from pollutants and contaminants.

How is this program effected by the lack of a state capital budget?

Without an approved state capital budget, application review and funding approval may be delayed. However, applications will continue to be accepted throughout the application period.

Where can I find/who should I contacted for additional information?

With questions about how WEC can help with the CWSRF, contact Evergreen Forest Program Manager Max Webster, max@wecprotects.org.

For questions about financial assistance and applying for CWSRF, contact ECY and Jeff Nejedly, jeff.nejedly@ecy.wa.gov.

More information about the CWSRF can be found through ECY here.

A detailed look at the CWSRF rules changes for the upcoming funding cycle can be found here.