U.S Department of the Interior: WaterSMART Drought Response Program – Drought Resiliency Projects for Fiscal Year 2023
The WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow) Drought Response Program supports Drought Resiliency Projects that will build long-term resilience to drought and reduce the need for emergency response actions. Through WaterSMART, the Bureau of Reclamation leverages Federal and non-Federal funding to work cooperatively with States, Tribes, and local entities as they plan for and implement actions to increase water supply reliability through investments in existing infrastructure and attention to local water conflicts.
Proposals submitted under this opportunity must demonstrate that the proposed project is supported by an existing drought planning effort. WaterSMART projects are generally in the final design stage—environmental and cultural resources compliance may have been initiated, and the non-Federal funding, necessary permits, and other required approvals have been secured. Collaboration with a multitude of customers, partners, and stakeholders is essential to identifying successful strategies to address complex water management issues such as drought.
WaterSMART also provides support for priorities identified in Presidential Executive Order (E.O.) 14008: Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad and aligned with other priorities, such as those identified in E.O. 13985: Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.
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 must have ongoing benefits to build long-term resilience to drought, even if they also address an immediate drought concern.
Project categories eligible for funding are described below. Applications may include any one, or a combination, of the types of projects described. See solicitation for details.
- Increasing the Reliability of Water Supplies through Infrastructure Improvements—these projects include but are not limited to: 1) System modifications or improvements that will increase flexibility of water conveyance and deliveries, facilitating access to water supplies in times of drought; 2) Projects storing water and/or recharging groundwater supplies, and that enable the capture or storage of additional water supplies that can be made available during drought; 3) Projects developing alternative sources of water supply that develop alternative water supplies to build resiliency to the impacts of drought.
- Increasing the Reliability of Water Supplies Through Groundwater Recovery—Wells funded under this opportunity are to be used for supplemental supplies during times of drought, to serve communities that are or are potentially facing a public health crisis due to a lack potable water, or to recover previously recharged/stored water. This opportunity is not intended to provide funding for wells that are part of a long-term planning effort to support increased need due to population growth or increased irrigation demands. Projects may include, but are not limited to constructing wells to provide back-up water supplies during times of drought, and constructing extraction wells at groundwater banks to improve extraction and return capabilities during dry years.
- Projects to Improve Water Management through Decision Support Tools, Modeling, and Measurement—these projects include but are not limited to: 1) Developing water management, water marketing, and modeling tools to help communities evaluate options and implement strategies to address drought; 2) Installing water measurement equipment and monitoring instrumentation devices to accurately track water supply conditions. See solicitation for details.
Amount: Approximately 15 to 21 awards will be made. Awards will be made in three Funding Groups as outlined below. Multiple applications for funding may be submitted for consideration (for example, an applicant may submit a proposal for funding under Funding Group I, a separate proposal under Funding Group II). In general, no more than $5,000,000 will be awarded to any one applicant. However, Category B applicants may be considered for multiple awards of up to $5,000,000 per project if the Category A partners are different.
- Funding Group I: Up to $500,000 per agreement for a project that can be completed within two years.
- Funding Group II: Up to $2,000,000 per agreement for a project that can be completed within three years. Projects in this group may be funded on an annual basis. Funding for the second and third years of the project is contingent upon future appropriations.
- Funding Group III: Up to $5,000,000 per agreement for a project that can be completed within three years. Projects in this group may be funded on an annual basis. Funding for the second and third years of the project is contingent upon future appropriations.
Note: There is a cost share requirement of 50% or more of total project costs. Other sources of Federal funding may not be counted towards the required cost share. Generally, the non-Federal share of project costs must be expended at the same or greater rate as the Federal share of project costs. See solicitation for details.
- Category A: States, Indian Tribes, irrigation districts, and water districts; state, regional, or local authorities whose members include one or more organizations with water or power delivery authority; and other organizations with water or power delivery authority. Category A applicants must be located in the Western United States or United States Territories, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
- Category B: Nonprofit conservation organizations that are acting in partnership and with the agreement of an entity described in Category A. Category B applicants must be in the United States or one of the Territories identified above.
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