The U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation has released a funding opportunity announcement requesting applications of qualifying projects for its 2021 WaterSMART Drought Response Program.

Applicants may apply up to $300,000 for two-year projects and up to $750,000 for three-year projects. Applications are due Wednesday, July 8, 2020 for FY 2021 funding.

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; as well as to help avoid the need for emergency response actions, such as water hauling programs and temporary infrastructure. Projects funded must have ongoing benefits to build long-term resilience to drought, even if they also address an immediate drought concern. 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?

State governments, tribes, irrigation districts, water districts, or other organizations with water or power delivery authority located in the Western United States are eligible to apply for grant funding. Federal government entities and individuals are not eligible.

When are applications due?

Application due date for FY 2021 funding is Wednesday July 8th, 2020.

What is the funding level and project duration of this grant?

The President’s FY 2021 budget includes $2.9 million and two project types. 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.

Is there a cost-sharing/matching requirement?

Applicants must be capable of providing a non-federal funding match or cost-share amount of 50% or more of the total project costs.

The full Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) can be found here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at or call us at 530-893-4764.


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