California’s unique geography and climate have allowed the State to become one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California. In an average year California’s agricultural industry irrigates 9.6 million acres using roughly 34 million acre-feet of water.
California’s growing demand for water has increased the pressure on California’s agriculture industry to use water more efficiently. To encourage the efficient use of agricultural water, the Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) operates the Agricultural Water Use Efficiency Grants Program (“Grant Program”). The Grant Program is funded with $30 million for agricultural water use efficiency projects.
Grants are available for two types of projects: “Implementation Projects” and “Other Projects.” “Implementation Projects” are projects that create measurable water conservation benefits. “Other Projects” create potential water conservation benefits, such as research, training, education, and public outreach.
These grants are not available to anyone, only the following entities are eligible to apply: public agencies, local agencies, joint powers authorities, public water/irrigation districts, Indian tribes, nonprofit organizations, other political subdivisions of the state involved with agricultural water management.
Investor-owned utilities regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission and mutual water companies involved with agricultural water management are also eligible for “Implementation Projects.” Universities and colleges, state, and federal agencies are also eligible for “Other Projects.”
Applicants are encouraged to collaborate with others and submit proposals on a regional scale. A proposed project must generate State benefits to be eligible for grant funding.
A review panel (made of experts in the domain, water conservation and water use professionals, and economists) will score all proposals. Proposals will be reviewed and evaluated according to the following criteria:
- Relevance and Importance
- Project Benefits
- Project Costs
- Monitoring and Evaluation
DWR will review the panel’s evaluation and make the final funding decision. A public workshop will be held on February 10, 2016 and proposals are due by March 30, 2016.