Frequently Asked Questions about the Clean Watersheds Needs Survey

Is the CWNS mandatory for communities to complete this information or is it voluntary?

No. The CWNS is not mandatory, but communities are encouraged to help EFC gather statewide needs by collecting capital costs associated with unfunded projects that address a water quality or water quality related public health problems.

How is “water quality benefit” defined?

Any project that that has a primary purpose of protecting water and benefits water quality. A project must be eligible for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) to be included in the CWNS.

Does the CWNS also include needs for drinking water infrastructure?

No. The CWNS does not include needs for drinking water infrastructure. A separate Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment (DWINSA) is conducted by the NYS Department of Health every four years by EPA and recently concluded in 2021.

Is participation in the Survey a requirement for a project to be included on future IUP lists?­

No. The CWNS is a voluntary submission by municipalities to help EFC ensure we can fund as many water quality infrastructure projects as possible in upcoming years by justifying infrastructure needs to EPA, which may impact future funding allocations.

Will the project data that is already published to the IUP Annual and Multi-year lists be used in the Survey?­

Yes. Projects listed on the Intended Use Plan Annual List and Multi-Year List will be submitted to EPA as a need if an engineering report has been submitted, the project has not closed a financing with EFC, and has not started construction prior to January 1, 2022.

­How is EFC working with outside agencies to determine project needs?

EFC is working with our partner agencies, such as NYSDEC, to help maximize outreach efforts and identify supporting documentation that can assist with collecting NYS needs.

If a grant application was not accepted/funded, will that project be identified as a future need?­

Yes. A non-CWSRF Government Loan and/or Grant Application is considered a primary document demonstrating future needs and can be submitted for inclusion in the Needs Survey.

Must an engineering report submitted for the CWNS meet the EFC Engineering Report Outline?­

No. An engineering report used as documentation of need for the Survey does not need to meet the EFC/DEC Engineering Report Outline but should include enough detail that describes the project that solves the problem, the cost for each project, and the source of the cost.

Note that if the municipality plans to list the project on EFC’s Intended Use Plan for funding, the report must meet the Outline requirements prior to approval.

­Will implementation projects developed through DEC's Drinking Water Source Protection program be eligible?­

Yes. If a capital improvement project is recommended through DEC’s program for an eligible project type such as watershed protection, then it can be used for the Survey.

Are all maintenance funds ineligible?  If vegetation removal from a large municipal detention basin is listed as a capital project, can this be considered for funding as a project?­

Only capital projects (e.g., construction activities, equipment purchase) are eligible. The CWSRF cannot fund ongoing operation and maintenance activities; however, planning and design for capital projects, as well as broader water quality planning where there is a reasonable expectation that the planning will result in a capital project, are eligible.

What if a watershed is under a TMDL for total phosphorus or other nutrients such as nitrogen?  Are there agencies available to help communities quantify their project costs?

EFC is working with our partner agencies, including DEC, to identify supporting documentation that can assist with collecting NYS needs.

If we don’t have an engineering report for a project, are we allowed to submit other documents that show needs?

Yes. You can submit a Capital Management Improvement Plan (CIP) or Management Improvement Plan; an approved CSO Long-term Management Plan/Annual Report; a Final Engineer’s Estimate/Lowest Bids; and non-CWSRF Governmental Loan and Grant Applications. These are all considered primary documents that satisfy all documentation guidelines (includes the project that solves the problem, the cost for each project, and the source of the cost).

You can also submit a combination of alternate documentation types. For a full list, see the Allowable Document Types section of our website.

Are there any helpful forms or checklists I can use for our submission?

Yes. EFC has created the following forms to help entities submit their needs:

Large Community Form – this can be used if the total population of the community that the facility or project will service is greater than or equal to 10,000.

Stormwater Needs Survey Form – this can be used to document stormwater needs and costs.

Decentralized Wastewater Treatment System Form – this can be used to document Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS) and Clustered System needs and costs.

Checklist for the CWNS – this can be used to help ensure you include all necessary components so that your submission can be counted for New York State.

Paper copies are available upon request by contacting [email protected] or by phone at 518- 402-6924.

Our community is very small. How can we document our needs?

If the total population of the community that the facility or project will service is less than 10,000, we encourage you to reach out directly to EFC. There are a variety of ways you can document your needs and EFC staff are available to assist you with your submission. Please contact us at [email protected] or by phone at 518-402-6924.

My community has needs, but we’re not sure where to begin. Is there anyone we can speak to about how we can submit our needs?

Yes. EFC staff is available to speak with you and answer any questions you may have. Please contact us at [email protected] or by phone at 518-402-6924.