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WaterSMART Drought Response Program: Drought Resiliency Projects for Fiscal Year 2018

Grants to Multiple USA States Agencies, Tribes, and
Water Authorities to Improve Drought Resiliency

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

Deadline Date:

02/13/18 4:00 PM MST


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Grants to multiple USA states and territories government agencies, tribes, water districts, irrigation districts, and other water authority organizations to enhance resiliency to drought conditions. Funding is available for the implementation of projects that will result in long-term drought resiliency.

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.

The WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow) Program provides a framework for Federal leadership and assistance to stretch and secure water supplies for the future. 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 our stakeholders, WaterSMART provides support for the Department of the Interior’s priorities, including creating a legacy of conservation stewardship, sustainably developing our energy and natural resources, modernizing our infrastructure through public- private partnerships, and restoring trust with local communities by improving relationships and communication with states, tribes, local governments, communities, landowners and water users.

The Bureau of Reclamation’s (Reclamation) WaterSMART Drought Response Program supports a proactive approach to drought by providing financial assistance to water managers to: develop and update comprehensive drought plans (Drought Contingency Planning), and implement projects that will build long-term resiliency to drought (Drought Resiliency Projects). The Drought Response Program specifically contributes to the Department of the Interior’s priorities to: create a legacy of conservation stewardship, modernize our infrastructure, and restore trust with local communities by providing funding to states, tribes, and local governments to prepare for and address drought in advance of a crisis.

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) supports Drought Resiliency Projects that will build long-term resiliency to drought and reduce the need for emergency response actions.

Objective of this Funding Opportunity Announcement:

The objective of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to invite states, tribes, irrigation districts, water districts, and other organizations with water or power delivery authority to leverage their money and resources by cost sharing with Reclamation on Drought Resiliency Projects that will increase the reliability of water supplies; improve water management; and provide benefits for fish, wildlife, and the environment to mitigate impacts caused by drought.

Projects carried out through Drought Resiliency Project Grants can increase water management flexibility, making our water supply more resilient. This helps to prepare for and address the impacts of drought. Proposals submitted under this FOA must demonstrate that the proposed project is supported by an existing drought planning effort. It is a well-established principle that proactively identifying resiliency projects through drought planning, in advance of a crisis, is far more cost effective than emergency response.

As stated on the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) website, “One frequently cited estimate from FEMA1 is that “mitigation” —taking steps ahead of time to prevent known impacts from a natural disaster—saves $4 for every $1 expended. Planning ahead is generally seen as more efficient and more effective than measures taken in crisis mode. Drought researchers have found that after-the-fact assistance to farmers, for example, is expensive and doesn’t necessarily reach the right people.”

Proposed projects that are supported by an existing drought plan are prioritized. This prioritization will help ensure that projects funded under this FOA are well thought out, have public support, and have been identified as the best way to address vulnerabilities to drought.

Applicants are invited to submit proposal under one of two Funding Groups to implement projects that will build long-term resiliency to drought:

-Funding Group I
-Funding Group II

Eligible Projects:

Reclamation will provide funding for projects that build long-term resilience to drought and reduce the need for emergency response actions through this Drought Resiliency Projects Grants FOA. Drought resiliency can be defined as the capacity of a community to cope with and respond to drought. Under this FOA, Reclamation will fund projects that will build resiliency to drought by:

-Increasing the reliability of water supplies
-Improving water management
-Providing benefits for fish and wildlife and the environment

To be eligible for funding under this FOA, the proposed resiliency project should improve the ability of water managers to continue to deliver water and power during a drought. The proposed project should decrease vulnerabilities and costs of drought by giving water managers flexibility in times of low water supply. In addition, the proposed project must be beyond routine water management activities or activities required by state law for conservation and efficiency. The proposed resiliency project should also help avoid the need for emergency response actions, such as water hauling programs and temporary infrastructure. Projects funded under this FOA must have ongoing benefits to build long-term resilience to drought, even if they also address an immediate drought concern.

Under this FOA, Reclamation will prioritize projects supported by an existing drought planning effort. Drought contingency planning efforts frequently identify potential projects or needs to improve resiliency to drought. These can include mitigation actions or tools that will improve water management flexibility or improve access to critical water supply information that will help water managers build resiliency and avoid a crisis during drought. Applicants that demonstrate that the proposed Project meets a need or project identified in an existing drought plan will be prioritized.

Tasks A-C, below, describe project categories eligible for funding under this FOA. Applications may include any one, or a combination, of the types of projects described in Tasks A-C. In general, if you are seeking funding for multiple projects (for example, a Task A Project and a Task C Project) and the projects are interrelated or closely related, they should be combined in one application. One phase of a larger Project may be eligible for funding under this program, so long as the phase proposed for funding will generate benefits to address drought resiliency, independent of completing additional phases.

Other projects that are similar to those tasks listed below may be submitted for consideration and will be allowed to the extent that they are consistent with program authorization and goals.

Task A—Increasing the Reliability of Water Supplies through Infrastructure Improvements

Even small investments in infrastructure can improve resiliency to drought conditions by increasing water management flexibility and providing alternative sources of water supply. For example, constructing new surface water intakes and new conveyance system components—such as pipes or pumping plants—can provide water managers with much needed options to deliver water from alternative sources or support voluntary transfers of water during drought. Likewise, aquifer recharge facilities can support water banking in wet years for use in dry years and sustainable conjunctive use programs.

Task A projects include, but are not limited to the following:

-System modifications or improvements.—Projects that will increase flexibility of water conveyance and deliveries, facilitating access to water supplies in times of drought.

-Storing water and/or recharging groundwater supplies.—Projects that enable the capture or storage of additional water supplies that can be made available during drought.

-Developing alternative sources of water supply including water treatment.—Projects that develop alternative water supplies to build resiliency to the impacts of drought.

Task B—Projects to Improve Water Management through Decision Support Tools, Modeling, and Measurement

Task B Projects are intended to help provide entities with water use information and tools to monitor the onset of drought, detect different levels of drought that may trigger certain drought mitigation and response actions, and to identify potential strategies to address drought. Task B Projects also includes the development of tools that facilitate water marketing between willing buyers and sellers to redistribute water supplies to meet other existing needs or uses (e.g., agricultural, municipal, or dedication to in-stream flows).

Task B Projects include, but are not limited to the following:

-Developing water management and modeling tools to help communities evaluate options and implement strategies to address drought.

-Installing water measurement equipment and monitoring instrumentation devices to accurately track water supply conditions (e.g., water service meters, stream flow measurement structures, flow meters, well level instruments, reservoir level monitors). Note: Projects to install meters or other water measurement devices are considered routine water management activities and are, therefore, not eligible for funding under this program as a standalone project. However, meters or other measuring devices are eligible as a necessary sub-component of another eligible Drought Resiliency Project as described in Tasks A-C (e.g., meters could be coupled with development of an online consumptive use website for consumers to see and adjust their habits).

-Developing a water marketing tool or program that would provide a mechanism for willing participants to buy, sell, lease, or exchange water to avoid or reduce water conflicts

Task C—Projects that Provide Protection for Fish, Wildlife, and the Environment

These projects seek to mitigate or minimize the potential drought-related impacts to ecosystems and to provide a sustainable environment for those species that are most vulnerable to periods of deficient water supplies. Please note that projects that provide benefits for fish and wildlife and the ecosystems they inhabit or use must be directly related to the impacts of drought or potential drought.

Task C Projects include, but are not limited to the following:

-Installing and/or modifying fish screens, ladders, bypasses, and modifications to water intakes (e.g., selective or lowered intakes)

-Improving fish hatcheries (e.g., coolers, holding pens, transport, disease control, or prevention)

-Improving habitat, including restoring habitat to pre-drought conditions. Examples of projects include, but are not limited to: 

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 182580

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

Estimated Number of Agreements to be Awarded: Approximately 7-10 projects

Estimated Size of Grant:

-Funding Group I: Up to $300,000 per agreement
-Funding Group II: Up to $750,000 per agreement

Term of Contract:

Funding Group I: Funds will be available for projects that generally should be completed in two years.

Funding Group II: Funds will be available for larger projects that may take up to three years to complete. Projects in this group will be funded on an annual basis. Funding for the second and third years of the project is contingent upon future appropriations.

Applications for projects requiring more time will be considered for funding only under limited circumstances.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Under P.L. 111-11, Section 9502, an eligible applicant is a state, tribe, irrigation district, water district, or other organization with water or power delivery authority.

Those not eligible include, but are not limited to, the following entities:
-Federal governmental entities
-Institutions of higher education

Ineligible Projects:

Projects not eligible for funding under this FOA include scientific research, water hauling, education and outreach, land fallowing, cover cropping, and reimbursement for economic losses resulting from drought. Emergency drought response projects that provide temporary benefits, including projects involving temporary facilities (e.g., temporary pipes and pumps), and projects expected to increase the total irrigated acreage or consumptive use of an applicant are also not eligible for funding. Projects for drought contingency plans are not eligible under this FOA but may be eligible for funding under Reclamation’s WaterSMART Drought Contingency Planning FOA.

Other projects that are not eligible for funding under this FOA include:
-Projects considered normal operations, maintenance, and replacement (OM&R)
-Water conservation projects (including water metering and measurement projects unless those projects are paired with another project eligible under Tasks A-C as a necessary subcomponent of that task)
-Projects or project elements that are part of a congressionally authorized Title XVI project under P.L.102-575, as amended (43 U.S.C. 390h et seq.). A list of congressionally authorized Title XVI projects can be found at
-Projects or project elements that are part of a water desalination or recycling project eligible for funding under section 4009(a) or 4009(c) of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, P.L. 114-322. A list of eligible WIIN projects can be found at
-Water desalination or recycling project with a total estimated project cost of more than $5 million
-Water purchases
-Construction of buildings for administration purposes
-Pilot projects
-Projects to conduct on-farm improvements

More explanation regarding these types of ineligible projects is included in the RFA (see Supporting Documents).

Pre-Application Information:

Applicants must be capable of cost sharing 50 percent or more of the total project costs. Cost sharing may be made through cash or in-kind contributions or donations from the applicant or third-party partners. Cost share funding from sources outside the applicant’s organization (e.g., loans or state grants) should be secured and available to the applicant prior to award.

The deadline to apply is Tuesday February 13, 2018 at 4:00 PM Mountain Standard Time.

News Release:

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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:

Mr. Kevin Connolly, Grants Management Specialist

Bureau of Reclamation
Financial Assistance Support Section
Attn: Mr. Kevin Connolly
Mail Code: 84-278514
P.O. Box 25007
Denver, CO 80225

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

Mr. Darion Mayhorn, Reclamation Drought Coordinator

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

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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)