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News Release

NRCS Invests $21 Million in Effort to Help Producers Build Drought Resilience

Contact: Dave Sanden (530) 691-5847

2 New WaterSMART Priority Areas in California Identified

Water-irrigation composite-Home PageDAVIS, Calif., Nov. 4, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $21 million as part of the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) collaboration with the Department of Interior’s (DOI) WaterSMART Initiative (WSI) to help farmers and ranchers conserve water and build drought resilience in their communities. California will receive more than $1.1 million of this funding. NRCS is providing the funding through Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

For Fiscal Year 2022, NRCS selected 15 new priority areas, including Riverside and Fresno counties, and is continuing to offer funding in 25 prior approved areas, making $21 million in EQIP funding available through the WSI across 13 western states. NRCS and the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) have been coordinating EQIP and WaterSMART investments since a pilot by California NRCS in 2011.

“I am pleased to see that the WaterSMART Initiative includes Fresno and Riverside counties this year,” NRCS State Conservationist Carlos Suarez said. “The consequences of drought have continued to impact farms, ranches and communities throughout the state. Drought is a complex challenge, and our collaboration on WaterSMART is part of our strategic approach to help producers conserve water and build resilience while also bringing important partners to the table.”

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) collaborates with the Department of Interior’s (DOI) WaterSMART Initiative to help farmers and ranchers conserve water and build drought resilience. These on-farm investments complement projects by irrigation districts, water suppliers and other organizations receiving WaterSMART Program funds from the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. NRCS works with Reclamation to coordinate investments in the same community for accelerating water conservation and drought resilience and making a bigger impact where it is most needed.

“Reclamation's collaboration with NRCS maximizes each agency’s investment in tackling conservation and building drought resiliency in the West,” said DOI Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton.

The new priority areas include $1,160,000 for California, specifically in: 

  • Eastern Municipal Water District Area (Riverside County) 
  • McMullen Area (Fresno County) 

In total, there are 46 active projects for delivering WaterSMART assistance nationwide. Visit the NRCS WaterSMART webpage to learn more.

Drought Coordination 
USDA is coordinating with federal agencies, state governments, Tribes, and others to address the impacts of drought. This includes a new interagency working group created in April by the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Climate Task Force to address the worsening drought conditions in the West and support farmers. USDA co-chairs the task force with the Department of Interior.