FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES: Reclamation invests in grants to increase water sustainability in the West

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

Drought and the impacts of climate change are having a significant effect on the Western United States.  These impacts include reductions to water resource needs of agriculture, cities and the environment.  The three WaterSMART grant opportunities — Drought Resiliency Projects, Water and Energy Efficiency Grants and the new Environmental Water Resources Projects — will help communities throughout the West by increasing water supply sustainability and drought resiliency.

“These recently announced grant opportunities will leverage federal funds to expand partnerships that support improved drought and climate resiliency throughout the West,” said Chief Engineer David Raff. “The water conservation and water use efficiency gains support Reclamation’s commitment to increasing water sustainability of the West.”

Drought Resiliency Projects

Drought Resiliency Projects provide funding for on-the-ground projects and modeling tools that increase water reliability or improve water management. Projects are proactive and supported by an existing drought plan or planning effort. Drought Resiliency Projects require a minimum 50% non-federal cost-share. Applications are due October 5, 2021.

Environmental Water Resources Projects

Environmental Water Resources Projects is a new funding category under WaterSMART. Projects that benefit plant and animal species, fish and wildlife habitat, riparian areas, and ecosystems directly influenced by water resources management are eligible. Project types can include water conservation and efficiency projects to improve the environment through quantifiable and sustained water savings, mitigation of drought-related impacts, and watershed management or restoration projects with a nexus to water resources or water resources management. Projects under this new category may be eligible for up to 75% federal funding. Applications are due December 9, 2021.

Water and Energy Efficiency Grants

Water and Energy Efficiency Grants are one of the longest-running parts of the WaterSMART Program. Grants are available for projects that conserve and use water more efficiently, increase renewable energy production, enhance drought resilience, and mitigate risk of future water conflict. Applicants receive additional consideration for delivery system improvements that complement on-farm enhancements supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This program requires a minimum 50% non-federal cost-share. Applications are due November 3, 2021.

These funding opportunities were updated to reflect changes in the SECURE Water Act and meet the Biden-Harris administration priorities. These priorities include Presidential Executive Order 14008: Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad and Presidential Executive Order 13985: Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. As part of the process, Reclamation sought public comments on draft program revisions. The comments received, along with Reclamation’s responses, are available at www.usbr.gov/watersmart.   

These funding opportunities are available on grants.gov by searching for funding number R22AS00020 for the Drought Resiliency Projects, R22AS00026 for Environmental Water Resources Projects, and funding number R22AS00023 for Water and Energy Efficiency Grants.

Reclamation plans to host a series of webinars in August to discuss these opportunities. If you would like to receive more information on these webinars, please send your name and email to watersmart@usbr.gov

Through WaterSMART, Reclamation works cooperatively with states, tribes, and local entities to plan for and implement actions to increase water supply reliability through investments to modernize existing infrastructure and attention to local water conflicts. Since 2010, Reclamation has provided more than $390 million in grants for WaterSMART projects. Visit www.usbr.gov/watersmart to learn more.

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