Funding Announcement for WaterSMART Drought Response Program

The U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation has released a funding opportunity announcement requesting applications of qualifying projects for its 2020 and 2021 WaterSMART Drought Response Program. Due Wednesday, October 16, 2019 for FY 2020 funding, applicants may apply up to $300,000 for two-year projects and up to $750,000 for three-year projects.

What kind of projects may be funded?
Grant funds will go toward projects that build long-term resilience and support proactive water management. Successful grant projects will enhance community capacity to respond to a drought, thereby reducing the need for emergency response actions. Projects will increase the reliability of water supplies, improve water management, or provide benefits for fish, wildlife, and the environment. Projects should increase water managers’ flexibility in times of low water supply, going beyond routine or legally-mandated water management activities.

Projects should address at least one of the following tasks:
1. Increase reliability of water supplies through infrastructure improvements. This means improving existing systems, expanding or installing water storage and recharging capacities, and developing or treating alternative sources of water supply. Examples include improving or building storage ponds, constructing ways to access water during drought periods, and constructing wells.
2. Improve water management through decision support tools, modeling, and measurement. This involves creating physical, online, or digital tools and models for analyzing drought conditions, incentivizing decreased consumption, and tracking conditions and demands. Installing water measurement equipment may be a part of this type of project.
3. Provide protection for fish, wildlife, and the environment. These projects must be directly related to the impacts of droughts or potential droughts, and may include installing fish screens, ladders, or bypasses; improving fish hatcheries; and restoring habitats.

Because grant-funded projects must be completed in two to three years, most successful applications will be for existing drought planning projects that are already in their final design stage or have already been initiated. Projects that have already secured non-Federal funding, necessary permits, and other required permits will have a significant competitive edge. See successful applications from previous years here.

Projects to conduct on-farm improvements and projects that are considered normal operations, maintenance, and replacement are not eligible.

Who may apply for funding under this program?
States, Indian tribes, irrigation districts, water districts, and other organizations with water or power delivery authority located in the Western United states of Territories are eligible to apply for grant funding. Federal government entities and individuals are not eligible.

When are applications due?
The funding announcement covers two application submittal periods: Wednesday, October 16, 2019 for fiscal year 2020 funding, and Wednesday, October 14, 2020 for fiscal year 2021 funding.

How much funding will be awarded?
Each application period offers two funding groups. Applicants in funding group 1 may apply for up to $300,000 for a project that can be completed within two years. Applicants in funding group 2 may apply for up to $750,000 for a project that can be completed within three years. A $1 to $1 match is required. Contingent upon available Federal appropriations, approximately 10-15 projects will be awarded grant funds for each application period. The President’s FY 2020 budget provides $2.9 million for the Drought Response Program.

Does this sound like a grant your organization could benefit from?
If you are interested in potentially seeking funding through the upcoming Drought Response Program, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at or call us at 530-893-4764. To read the complete funding opportunity announcement, click here. To learn more about Morrison’s breadth and depth of grant-writing experience, click here.


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