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WaterSMART Cooperative Watershed Management Program (CWMP) Phase I Grants for Fiscal Year 2018

Grants to Multiple USA States Nonprofits and
Agencies for Watershed Management Planning

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U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Policy and Administration

Deadline Date:

01/31/18 4:00 PM MST


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Grants of up to $50,000 per year to multiple USA states and territories nonprofit, governmental and tribal watershed organizations for the restoration of watersheds. Registration to apply online may take 7 to 21 days to complete. Activities include the development of a watershed group, watershed restoration planning activities, and the design of watershed management projects.

Applicants must be located in the western United States or Territories as identified in the Reclamation Act of June 17, 1902, as amended and supplemented; specifically: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands

Program Information:

The Nation faces an increasing set of water resource challenges. Aging infrastructure, rapid population growth, depletion of groundwater resources, impaired water quality associated with particular land uses and land covers, water needed for human and environmental uses, and drought all play a role in determining the amount of freshwater available at any given place and time. Water shortages and water-use conflicts have become more commonplace in many areas of the United States, even in normal water years. As competition for water resources grows—crop irrigation, city and community growth, energy production, and the environment—the need for information and tools to aid water resource managers also grows.

These water issues are exacerbating the challenges facing traditional water management approaches which, by themselves, no longer meet today’s needs. The WaterSMART Program provides a framework for Federal leadership and assistance to stretch and secure water supplies for future generations in support of the priorities of the Department of the Interior (Department). Through WaterSMART, Reclamation leverages Federal and non-Federal funding to support stakeholder efforts to stretch scarce water supplies and avoid conflicts over water. Working together with stakeholders, WaterSMART provides support for creating a legacy of conservation stewardship, sustainably developing energy and natural resources, modernizing infrastructure through public-private partnerships, and restoring trust with local communities by improving relationships and communication with states, tribes and local governments, communities, landowners and water users.

The Cooperative Watershed Management Program (CWMP) contributes to the Department’s priorities to create a legacy of conservation stewardship and restore trust with local communities by providing funding to grassroots, local watershed groups to encourage diverse stakeholders to develop collaborative solutions to address their water management needs. By providing this funding, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) is working with local communities to support the sustainable development of water resources, improving the ecological resilience of rivers and streams, and conserving water for multiple uses using collaborative conservation efforts.

In accordance with the authority for the CWMP, Reclamation may fund the development of watershed groups and watershed restoration planning (Phase I) and the implementation of on-the-ground watershed management projects (Phase II).

Going forward, Reclamation will post separate funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for Phase I and Phase II projects, either within the same fiscal year or in alternating fiscal years, depending on the amount of appropriations available.


The objective of this FOA is to invite states, Indian tribes, irrigation districts, water districts, local governmental entities, nonprofit organizations, existing watershed groups, and local and special districts (e.g., irrigation and water districts, county soil conservation districts) to submit proposals for Phase I activities to develop a watershed group, complete watershed restoration planning activities, and design watershed management projects.

A “watershed group,” as defined in Section 6001(5) (see Section A.2. Statutory Authority for full citation) of the Cooperative Watershed Management Act (Act) is a grassroots, non-regulatory entity that addresses water availability and quality issues within the relevant watershed, is capable of promoting the sustainable use of water resources in the watershed, makes decisions on a consensus basis, and represents a diverse group of stakeholders, including hydroelectric producers, livestock grazing, timber production, land development, recreation or tourism, irrigated agriculture, the environment, municipal water supplies, private property owners, Federal, state and local governments, and tribes. (See Section 6001(5) of the Act for the statutory definition of a “watershed group”).

Applicant Category Guidance:

In general, applicants should apply as a New Watershed Groups if the group is just getting started, has completed little or no watershed restoration planning, and requires more substantial support for building the capacity of the watershed group and completing outreach to stakeholders. Groups that have been active in the watershed for several years and have previously conducted some watershed planning should apply as Existing Watershed Groups. Although New and Existing Watershed Groups will be scored using the same evaluation criteria (see Section E.1. Technical Proposal: Evaluation Criteria), they will be ranked separately to ensure fairness. Note, the Application Review Committee (see Section E.2.2. Application Review Committee has the discretion to change the Applicant Category for an application where they deem appropriate.

Note, entities may receive funding multiple times under Phase I of the CWMP; however, each project must have a distinct scope of work. In addition, when applying, entities that have previously received funding through CWMP Phase I should explain how their new project differs from and builds on past Phase I projects(s).

Eligible Projects:

Applicants can apply for funding for activities within one or more of the following three Task Areas. Note: The work described in Task Areas A-C must be completed for applicants to be eligible for funding under Phase II of the CWMP for the implementation of watershed management projects. However, Task Areas do not necessarily need to be completed through this program.

1. Task A - Watershed Group Development: Watershed group development activities include, but are not limited to:

-Hiring a watershed group coordinator to organize the group and coordinate its activities.
-Developing a mission statement, vision statement, and goals for the watershed group.
-Hiring a facilitator to assist with outreach to stakeholders.
-Conducting outreach activities, such as the creation of an outreach plan and information materials (e.g., brochures, advertisements, website, videos) and conducting stakeholder meetings to establish broad-based, diverse membership.
-Gathering information about issues and needs related to water quality and quantity within the watershed (e.g., through research, talking to government agencies and local universities).
-Conducting pre-planning activities, including outlining a watershed restoration plan, researching existing plans related to the watershed, collecting baseline information, and identifying restoration needs for the watershed.

Note: The development of articles of incorporation, bylaws, and business practices and staff salaries and contractor costs are eligible activities for both New and Existing Watershed Groups and can be completed as part of any Task Area. See Section B.2. Applicant Category Guidance for a description of New and Existing Watershed Groups.

2. Task B – Watershed Restoration Planning: Watershed restoration planning activities may include, but are not limited to:

-Completing a watershed restoration plan, improving on existing restoration plans, or conducting water quality or quantity studies needed to provide baseline information about the watershed.
-Conducting mapping and other technical analyses, including obtaining data, performing modeling, or developing goals and benchmarks for the restoration plan.
-Obtaining project management services or software technology required to formulate the watershed restoration plan.
-Interviewing watershed group members and stakeholders to gain an idea of projects that would improve the watershed.
-Working with watershed group members, landowners, Federal agencies, and state or local governments to determine how the watershed can be improved.
-Reviewing watershed-specific best management practices established by Federal, state, and local government agencies.
-Developing general watershed management project concepts or performing an analysis of the watershed to identify and prioritize watershed management projects. For example, creating a matrix within the watershed restoration plan that outlines and prioritizes watershed management projects.

Watershed Restoration Plan Guidance: A watershed restoration plan is a tool designed to help a watershed group plan for and implement restoration activities in their watershed. A watershed restoration plan should describe the issues of concern related to water resources within the watershed and identify potential solutions. Reclamation understands that watershed restoration plans may take different forms depending on the purpose for which they were developed. Rather than prescribing particular requirements, Reclamation encourages recipients to develop a restoration plan that best meets the needs of the watershed. However, recipients should consider that the Phase II funding opportunity, which provides funding for on-the-ground watershed management projects, prioritizes projects outlined in watershed restoration plans that that are more holistic, addressing multiple issues related to water resources within the watershed, and plans developed by stakeholders with diverse interests.

3. Task C - Watershed Management Project Design: Project design activities can include, but are not limited to:

-Completing an analysis in order to prioritize watershed management projects and identify specific project locations.
-Completing site-specific project design and engineering.
-Developing project timelines and milestones.
-Researching what type of site-specific environmental compliance will be necessary to implement a project, particularly if the applicant intends to seek Federal funding to implement the project in the future (e.g., under Phase II of this program). It is recommended you contact your local Reclamation office as part of such research, to discuss the required environmental and cultural resource compliance and costs associated with potential projects. If a potential project is located on land owned by a different Federal agency, other than Reclamation, applicants are advised to contact that agency.

Note: If some monitoring, measurement, or other field work (e.g., water quality monitoring, vegetation surveys) is needed to inform the watershed restoration planning activities, such work may be eligible for funding so long as it comprises only a minor part of the work described in the proposal. Applicants should note that these activities may require environmental and cultural resource compliance. Applications containing these activities must budget for all associated compliance work and should discuss the required compliance. It is recommended you contact your local Reclamation office to discuss the required environmental and cultural resource compliance and associated costs prior to submitting your application.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 182578

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

A total of up to $100,000 in Federal funds may be awarded to an applicant over the two-year period, with no more than $50,000 to be available per year.

Term of Contract:

In general, proposed projects should be completed within 2 years of award. Applications for projects requiring more time will be considered for funding only under limited circumstances.

Within nine months from the initial date of award, Reclamation shall determine whether a recipient has made sufficient progress in the first year to justify second year funding.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applicant Eligibility for New Watershed Groups:

Applicants eligible to receive an award as a New Watershed Group include states, Indian tribes, local and special districts (e.g., irrigation and water districts), local governmental entities, interstate organizations, and nonprofit organizations. To be eligible, applicants must also meet all of the following requirements:

-Significantly affect or be affected by the quality or quantity of water in a watershed
-Be capable of promoting the sustainable use of water resources
-Be located in the western United States or Territories as identified in the Reclamation Act of June 17, 1902, as amended and supplemented; specifically: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands

Applicant Eligibility for Existing Watershed Groups:

In order to be eligible to receive an award as an Existing Watershed Group, the applicant must be an eligible entity as described immediately above and must be either:

1. An existing watershed group, (i.e., a grassroots, non-regulatory legal entity that otherwise meets the definition of a watershed group as described above in Section A.2. Objective of this Funding Opportunity Announcement).

2. A participant in an existing watershed group that meets the definition of a watershed group as described above.

Those not eligible include, but are not limited to, the following entities:
-Federal Governmental entities
-Institutes of higher education, except cooperative watershed management organizations sponsored by institutes of higher education
-501(c)(4) organizations
-501(c)(6) organizations

Ineligible Projects:

Projects not eligible for funding under this FOA include, but are not limited to, scientific research and the project types identified immediately below.

Other Planning Projects:
Proposals for the development of planning efforts other than watershed restoration plans are not eligible for funding under this FOA. This includes proposals for the development of drought plans, appraisal investigations, feasibility studies, special studies, Basin Studies, or studies authorized under the Title XVI Water Recycling and Reuse Program, through P.L.102-575, as amended (43 USC 390h et seq.), or under the Rural Water Program, pursuant to the Rural Water Supply Act of 2006, P.L.109-451.

On-the-Ground Watershed Management Projects:
Implementing on-the-ground watershed management projects is funded under a separate FOA for Phase II activities and is not eligible for funding under this FOA. On-the-ground watershed management projects include, but are not limited to, removing fish passage barriers or installing fish passage structures, streambed and streambank modifications, invasive species removal, vegetation restoration, installing fences, and water conservation and efficiency projects (e.g., canal lining and piping).

Water and Land Purchases and Easements:
A project that proposes using Federal funding primarily for the purchase of water or land, or to secure an easement, is not eligible under this FOA.

Building Construction:
A project that proposes to construct a building is not eligible for Federal funding under this FOA (e.g., a building to house administrative staff or to promote public awareness of water conservation).

On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Improvements:
Projects to conduct on-farm irrigation efficiency improvements are not eligible under this FOA. Applicants interested in on-farm improvements should contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to investigate opportunities for Federal assistance. For more information on NRCS programs, including application deadlines and a description of available funding, please contact your local NRCS office or visit for further contact information in your area.

Pilot Projects:
A project that proposes to conduct a pilot study to evaluate technical capability, economic feasibility, or viability for full-scale implementation or to test an unproven material or technology is not eligible for Federal funding under this FOA.

Pre-Application Information:

This FOA provides funding to watershed groups for Phase I projects for watershed group development and restoration planning. Contingent on appropriations, Reclamation anticipates releasing an FOA for Phase II projects in the spring of 2018.

The application due date is Wednesday, January 31, 2018 4:00 PM Mountain Standard Time.

Applicants must have a DUNS number and be registered in SAM prior to applying.

Applications may be submitted through Please note that submission of an application electronically requires prior registration through, which may take 7 to 21 days.

News Release:

View this opportunity on

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Questions regarding application and submission information and award administration may be submitted to the attention:

Darren Olson, Grants Management Specialist

Financial Assistance Support Section
Mail Code: 84-27814
P.O. Box 25007
Denver, CO 80225

Questions regarding applicant and project eligibility and application review may be submitted to the attention of:

Robin Graber, Program Analyst

Avra Morgan, Cooperative Watershed Management Program Coordinator

Bureau of Reclamation
Water Resources and Planning Division
Mail Code: 84-51000
P.O. Box 25007
Denver, CO 80225

CFDA Number:


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URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Arizona;   California;   Colorado;   Idaho;   Kansas;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Mexico;   North Dakota;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   South Dakota;   Texas;   Utah;   Washington;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)