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Columbia River

Columbia River Basin Restoration Funding Assistance Program

(September 16, 2020) EPA has announced 14 projects funded by the 2020 inaugural round of Clean Water Act Section 123 grants.

On this page:

Program Summary

Congress amended the Clean Water Act in 2016 by adding Section 123 (33 U.S.C. § 1275), which required EPA to establish a Columbia River Basin Restoration Program.

Section 123 directs EPA to develop a voluntary, competitive grant program for environmental protection and restoration programs throughout the Basin. The grant program offers funding assistance to eligible entities on a competitive basis.

In October 2019, EPA Region 8 and Region 10 launched the first request for applications for a competitive grant program.

In September 2020, EPA announced the award of $2 million in 14 grants to tribal, state and local governments, non-profits and community groups throughout the Columbia River Basin.

These projects which will increase agricultural best practices, green infrastructure, and monitoring and assessment; promote pollution prevention; and increase citizen education and involvement. These inaugural year projects will serve as models for toxics reduction and assessment throughout the Basin so that others may replicate these successes for years to come.

For more information, please contact:

  • Mary Lou Soscia (, EPA Region 10, 503-326-5873.
  • Peter Brumm (, EPA Region 8, 406-457-5029.

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Grant Recipients and Award Summaries

EPA has announced the following 14 projects funded by the 2020 inaugural round of Section 123 grants. EPA was able to provide the full amount requested by successful grantees for a total of $2,053,903.

  1. Washington State Department of Agriculture
  2. Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center
  3. Salmon-Safe
  4. Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation
  5. Multnomah County/Clean Rivers Coalition
  6. Washington Department of Ecology
  7. Nez Perce Tribe
  8. Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership
  9. Regents of the University of Idaho
  10. University of Montana/Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
  11. University of Washington Tacoma at the Center for Urban Waters
  12. Cascade Pacific Resource, Conservation & Development
  13. City of Vancouver
  14. Columbia Riverkeeper

Recipient: Washington State Department of Agriculture
Project: Monitoring, reduction, and collection of agricultural pesticides in the Columbia River Basin (WA)
EPA Grant amount: $200,000
Summary: The Washington State Department of Agriculture will focus on surface water monitoring for pesticides, waste pesticide collection, and outreach to producers within the Palouse River and Yakima River watersheds. These watersheds have been chosen because each is a unique agricultural production region in Washington and are located, upstream from critical habitat for Endangered Species Act-listed species. Sampling will look for more than 150 legacy and currently used pesticides, including DDT and its breakdown products. Key partners include the Palouse Conservation District, EPA Region 10’s Manchester Environmental Laboratory, and Clean Harbors.

Recipient: Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center
Project: Ecological Business (EcoBiz) and safer alternatives training for chemicals of high concern in the lower Columbia River Basin (OR)
EPA Grant amount: $88,304
Summary: This project will expand the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center’s support to two programs: the EcoBiz Program, which certifies environmentally friendly landscaping, car wash, and automotive businesses in Oregon and provides pollution prevention assistance; and the Safer Chemicals Alternatives Training Program, which is overseen by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Project activities will occur within the Portland Metro area, focused on the jurisdictions of key local partners—Clean Water Services, City of Portland, City of Gresham, and Clackamas County Water Environment Services. The effort will focus on multiple pollutants produced by the automotive sector (e.g., oil products, solvents, and metals) and the landscaping sector (e.g., pesticides and herbicides).

Recipient: Salmon-Safe
Project: Accelerating water quality protection practices on agricultural lands in the interior Columbia Basin (ID, OR, WA)
EPA Grant amount: $190,000
Summary: This long-term project conducted by Salmon-Safe is aimed at reducing toxics in the Columbia River Basin by inspiring the transition of 30,000 acres of large scale and diversified farms across the interior Basin to certification practices that protect water quality and wildlife habitat. Salmon-Safe will focus its efforts to engage with farmers in Oregon, north central and eastern Washington, and eastern Idaho to reduce pesticide use, prevent erosion, improve irrigation efficiency, protect habitat, and enhance biodiversity. The grant will support outreach to 500 or more agricultural growers, transitioning at least 60 growers to adopt Salmon-Safe certification practices, and aligning Salmon-Safe to a global certification program that provides comprehensive whole farm assessments.

Recipient: Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation
Project: Columbia River mainstem fish tissue and water quality monitoring framework (OR, WA)
EPA Grant amount: $188,378
Summary: The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation (Yakama Nation) will partner with the U.S. Geological Survey, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, and Washington State Department of Ecology to implement this project to develop a fish tissue and water quality monitoring framework aimed at tracking the status and trends of toxics (including mercury, DDT, PCBs, PBDEs, and PAHs) in the Columbia River. This project will track toxics found in fish and invertebrates; water; and sediments along the approximately 600-mile length of the mainstem Columbia River from the Canadian border to the Bonneville Dam.

Recipient: Multnomah County/Clean Rivers Coalition
Project: Pesticide reduction outreach campaign (OR, WA)
EPA Grant amount: $174,045
Summary: This project is a multi-year behavior-change campaign intended to reduce the use of residential herbicides and insecticides and will be led by Clean Rivers Coalition, a voluntary collaborative group of over 60 local governments, state and federal agencies, and water-related non-profits, with Multnomah County, Oregon, serving as the fiscal agent. The project will promote citizen engagement and knowledge through new video and social media content, digital advertising buys, and targeted outreach to Latinx communities in the lower and middle Columbia River region—including the Willamette, Hood, and Deschutes River watersheds and areas in southwest Washington.

Recipient: Washington Department of Ecology
Project: Washington Department of Ecology local source control City of Vancouver FY21-22 (WA)
EPA Grant amount: $105,000
Summary: The Washington Department of Ecology will lead a project designed to provide pollution prevention assistance to businesses in the Vancouver, WA metro area. With support from Ecology, the City of Vancouver will: provide free onsite technical assistance to businesses to help them reduce hazardous waste; manage, store, and dispose of hazardous waste; assist businesses with switching to safer alternatives; and prevent pesticides and other contaminants from entering stormwater and wastewater streams. Other key partners preventing pollution to the Columbia River watershed include Clark County Public Works, Clark County Health District, and Spokane County Regional Health District.

Recipient: Nez Perce Tribe
Project: Clearwater River watershed baseline monitoring and toxics assessment (ID)
EPA Grant amount: $200,000
Summary: The Nez Perce Tribe Water Resources Division (WRD), located in north-central Idaho, will partner with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, the University of Idaho, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement toxin, metal, and nutrient monitoring in the Clearwater River watershed. The project will sample water and soil as well as fish, mussel, and lamprey ammocoete tissues for DDT, mercury, methyl mercury, PCBs, PBDEs, other metals, and nutrients. Additionally, the WRD will conduct a small study in collaboration with the University of Idaho to look for the presence of microplastics in sediment and fish tissue samples to establish a baseline for whether microplastics are present in the Clearwater River watershed.

Recipient: Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership
Project: Grattix boxes to reduce toxics or the GREAT (Get Real Environmental Attenuation of Toxics) Grattix Box Project (OR, WA)
EPA Grant amount: $67,597
Summary: The Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership (LCEP) aims to improve lower Columbia River water quality by reducing zinc and copper discharges using Grattix boxes—inexpensive, low-tech raingardens that reduce contaminants in stormwater runoff. A 3-year pilot study found that Grattix boxes reduced the concentration of zinc in stormwater runoff by 90–95% and copper by 85%. LCEP will partner with the Port of Vancouver, WA and Oregon State University to build and deliver the Grattix boxes to industrial areas where there are large extents of galvanized metal roofs in Longview, Washington and in the St. Helens and Rainier areas in Oregon.

Recipient: Regents of the University of Idaho
Project: Using crowdsourced crayfish in education, engagement, and bio-monitoring relative to mercury pollution in the Spokane and Boise River Basins (ID, WA)
EPA Grant amount: $198,957
Summary: The University of Idaho’s Water Resources Research Institute will facilitate community collaboration by encouraging citizens to become involved in a program to monitor mercury concentrations in the tissues of crayfish captured by community members in two watersheds—the Spokane River Basin (ID, WA) and Boise River Basin (ID). Community members will participate in monitoring and engagement campaigns with the anticipated impact of fostering an enhanced understanding of the importance of mercury pollution to public health. Key partners include Spokane Riverkeeper, IdaH2O, The River Mile Network’s Columbia River Watershed Crayfish Study, the Boise River Enhancement Network, the Northwest Knowledge Network, the Analytic Science Laboratory at the University of Idaho, and the College of Natural Resources.

Recipient: University of Montana
Project: Fish consumption and advisory awareness among food pantry patrons receiving products of lake trout suppression on Flathead Lake (MT)
EPA Grant amount: $128,992
Summary: This project, led by the University of Montana, will initiate a monitoring scheme on Flathead Lake to estimate a baseline condition of methylmercury that differentiates between atmospheric inputs and changes due to lake trout suppression. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have made a concerted effort to suppress the invasive lake trout population on Flathead Lake and donate caught trout to local food pantries. The Tribe’s efforts to reduce the population of lake trout can alter methylmercury levels in the fish, which may impact food webs. In addition, the project will assess awareness of fish consumption advisories among food pantries receiving lake trout.

Recipient: University of Washington Tacoma at the Center for Urban Waters
Project: Evaluating and prioritizing contaminants of emerging concern in the Lower Columbia River (OR, WA)
EPA Grant amount: $76,601
Summary: Researchers at the University of Washington Tacoma at the Center for Urban Waters will direct this project to monitor previously unmonitored contaminants, such as endocrine disruptors, in the Columbia River to determine whether they harm important species. Monitoring will take place from the Portland metro area to Wauna, OR, and also at locations in the Willamette River. Key partners include the Columbia River Basin Restoration Working Group and the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program.

Recipient: Cascade Pacific Resource, Conservation & Development (RC&D)
Project: Upper Willamette urban waters partnership development and program expansion (OR)
EPA Grant amount: $199,999
Summary: Cascade Pacific Resource, Conservation & Development will work with four watershed councils, the Cities of Eugene and Springfield, Lane County, the University of Oregon, two publicly owned water and electric utilities, and numerous local businesses to install voluntary green stormwater infrastructure retrofits and develop a monitoring framework to identify trends and monitor efficacy of the stormwater retention projects. The project will address multiple contaminants found in urban stormwater, including heavy metals, PAHs, and multiple pesticides, as well as work to reduce peak stormwater runoff volumes within the Upper Willamette Metro Area including the Cities of Eugene, Springfield, and Glenwood.

Recipient: City of Vancouver
Project: City of Vancouver Columbia slope water quality monitoring (WA)
EPA Grant amount: $144,039
Summary: The City of Vancouver Public Works Department will lead a study to conduct water quality sampling at six locations within the Columbia Slope sub-watershed. The sampling will expand the city’s understanding of how stormwater influences water quality and will inform decisions about the feasibility of future stormwater infrastructure retrofits. Water samples will be tested for temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, metals, and nutrients, as well as pesticides and hydrocarbons in limited cases. This project will expand the city’s water quality monitoring program to a sub-watershed that has not been studied before, and the project results will help drive decisions about how and where to make water quality improvements.

Recipient: Columbia Riverkeeper
Project: Columbia Gorge pollution prevention education and outreach project (OR, WA)
EPA Grant amount: $91,991
Summary: Managed by Columbia Riverkeeper, this project will reduce toxic pollution in the Columbia Gorge by educating and inspiring students and community members to prevent pollution discharges. Through this project, students will learn how pollution prevention protects the Columbia River, including how riparian zones protect water quality and create habitat, as well as specific actions individuals can take to prevent pollution. The project is anticipated to provide pollution prevention education to more than 20,000 students and community members through events and outreach in Hood River, Wasco, and Klickitat Counties. Online-based pollution prevention educational materials will reach communities throughout the Columbia River Basin. Key partners include Radio Tierra and the Hood River Soil & Water Conservation District.

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