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Watershed-Level Water Conservation and Groundwater Recharge

This ranking pool supports efforts for both watershed-level water conservation throughout the state & groundwater recharge in a select group of counties. The two options will be evaluated in separate categories to ensure the goals for each are met. The two categories are described separately in this document as “Watershed-Level Water Conservation” and “Groundwater Recharge”. Both target collaboration with Water Management Entities (WMEs) in relation to water conservation.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary, conservation program administered by NRCS that can provide financial and technical assistance to install conservation practices that address priority natural resource concerns.

  • In consultation with the State Technical Committee and Local Work Groups, the State Conservationist has developed ranking pools and ranking criteria to focus EQIP funding for priority resource concerns and initiatives.
  • NRCS uses the Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART) to assess the site vulnerability, existing conditions, and identify potential resource concerns on a unit of land.  After CART assessment, NRCS uses CART Ranking to evaluate an application in all applicable ranking pools.
  • The State Conservationist establishes batching periods to select the highest ranked applications for funding, contract approval is dependent on program eligibility determinations.
  • Any interested farmer or rancher may submit an application for participation in EQIP.

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Category 1: Watershed-Level Water Conservation

The conservation goals and funding priorities for the watershed-level water conservation ranking pool are to provide technical and financial assistance to Water Management Entities (WMEs) to improve irrigation water delivery and management, such as: water conservation scheduling and if applicable, distribution efficiency, soil moisture monitoring; irrigation-related structural or other measures that conserve surface or ground water, including aquifer recover practices; and, where applicable, transition to water-conserving crops, water-conserving crop rotations, or deficit irrigation. The following sections include the applicable land uses, resource concerns, and conservation practices for the watershed level water conservation ranking pool.

WMEs can be a State, irrigation district, ground water management district, acequia, land grant-merced, or similar entity, with responsibilities related to irrigation water delivery or management. These may be public or semipublic agencies or organizations.

Applicants in all counties within the State of California are geographically eligible for this program.

Applications must be received by the NRCS Field Office by either of the EQIP Ranking Pool deadlines for consideration.

Signup Dates and Deadlines | NRCS California (usda.gov)

Land Uses

Below are the applicable land uses for the watershed-level water conservation ranking pool.

  • Crop: Land used primarily for the production and harvest of annual or perennial field, forage, food, fiber, horticultural, orchard, vineyard, or energy crops.
  • Pasture: Land used primarily for the production and harvest of annual or perennial field, forage, food, fiber, horticultural, orchard, vineyard, or energy crops.
  • Associated Agricultural Lands: Land associated with farms and ranches that are not purposefully managed for food, forage, or fiber and are typically associated with nearby production or conservation lands. This could include incidental areas, such as odd areas, ditches and watercourses, riparian areas, field edges, seasonal and permanent wetlands, and other similar areas.

Conservation Practices – Watershed-Level Water Conservation

NRCS conservation practices eligible for financial assistance through this ranking pool are listed in the below table. For more information about NRCS conservation practices visit the following website link: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/technical/?cid=NRCSDEV11_001020.

Practice Code

Practice Name Practice Units

Lifespan (Years)

320 Irrigation Canal or Lateral ft 15
348 Dam, Diversion  no  15
350 Sediment Basin no 20
351 Well Decommissioning no 20
356 Dike or Levee ft 20
362 Diversion ft 10
388 Irrigation Field Ditch ft 15
395 Stream Habitat Improvement and Management  ac
396 Aquatic Organism Passage  mi  5
428 Irrigation Ditch Lining ft 20
430 Irrigation Pipeline ft 20
436 Irrigation Reservoir  ac-ft 15 
441 Irrigation System, Microirrigation ac 15
442 Sprinkler System ac 15
449 Irrigation Water Management ac 1
468 Lined Waterway or Outlet ft 15
520 Pond Sealing or Lining, Compacted Soil Treatment sf 15
521 Pond Sealing or Lining, Geomembrane or Geosynthetic Clay Liner sf 20
533 Pumping Plant no 15
578 Stream Crossing no 10
580 Streambank and Shoreline Protection ft 20
582 Open Channel ft 15
587 Structure for Water Control no 20
740 Pond Sealing and Lining, Soil Cement no 20
910 TA Planning n/a
911 TA Design n/a
912 TA Application n/a
913 TA Check-Out n/a


Category 2: Groundwater Recharge

The Groundwater Recharge ranking pool supports a pilot program to evaluate Interim Conservation Practice Standards 815- Groundwater Recharge Basin and Trench and 817- On-Farm Recharge.

Field Office Technical Guide (usda.gov)

Eligible projects must:

  • Address the Groundwater Depletion resource concern
  • Include either Interim Conservation Practice 815- Groundwater Recharge Basin and Trench or Interim Conservation Practice 817- On-Farm Recharge
  • Meet design and monitoring criteria stated in the Interim Conservation Practice Standards
  • Have access to recharge water from an Irrigation District OR have access & water rights to winter flood water
  • Be located within Madera County, Merced County (in the Chowchilla Irrigation District boundaries only) Tulare County (in the Tulare Irrigation District or Delano-Earlimart Irrigation District boundaries only), or Kern County (in the Delano-Earlimart Irrigation District boundaries only). – SEE MAP on page 5

Water Management Entities (WMEs) and farm-scale applicants are eligible to apply. Applicants will work with NRCS conservationists to develop a conservation plan including the interim recharge practices and any needed supporting practices available in the Practice List below.

Applications must be received by the corresponding NRCS Field Office (Madera, Merced, Visalia, or Bakersfield Field Offices) by April 1, 2022 for consideration. Signup Dates and Deadlines | NRCS California (usda.gov)

Land Uses

Below are the applicable land uses for the Groundwater Recharge ranking pool.

  • Crop: Land used primarily for the production and harvest of annual or perennial field, forage, food, fiber, horticultural, orchard, vineyard, or energy crops.
  • Farmstead: Land used for facilities and supporting infrastructure where farming, forestry, animal husbandry, and ranching activities are often initiated. This may include dwellings, equipment storage, plus farm input and output storage and handling facilities.
  • Associated Agricultural Lands: Land associated with farms and ranches that are not purposefully managed for food, forage, or fiber and are typically associated with nearby production or conservation lands. This could include incidental areas, such as odd areas, ditches and watercourses, riparian areas, field edges, seasonal and permanent wetlands, and other similar areas.
  • Other Rural Land: Land that is barren, sandy, rocky, or that is impacted by the extraction of natural resources, such as minerals, gravel or sand, coal, shale, rock, oil, or natural gas.

Conservation Practices- Groundwater Recharge Ranking Pool

NRCS conservation practices eligible for financial assistance through the Groundwater Recharge ranking pool are listed in the below table. For more information about NRCS conservation practices visit the following website link: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/technical/?cid=NRCSDEV11_001020.

Practice Code

Practice Name

Practice Units

Lifespan (Years)

320

Irrigation Canal or Lateral

ft

15

324

Deep Tillage

ac

1

327

Conservation Cover

ac

5

329

Residue and Tillage Management, No Till

ac

1

333

Amending Soil Properties with Gypsum Products

ac

1

334

Controlled Traffic Farming

ac

5

340

Cover Crop

ac

1

345

Residue and Tillage Management, Reduced Till

ac

1

350

Sediment Basin

no

20

351

Well Decommissioning

no

20

356

Dike or Levee

ft

20

362

Diversion

ft

10

386

Field Border

ac

10

388

Irrigation Field Ditch

ft

15

393

Filter Strip

ac

10

412

Grassed Waterway

ac

10

430

Irrigation Pipeline

ft

20

443

Irrigation System, Surface and Subsurface

ac

15

449

Irrigation Water Management

ac

1

450

Anionic Polyacrylamide (PAM) Application

ac

1

462

Precision Land Forming and Smoothing

ac

10

464

Irrigation Land Leveling

ac

15

533

Pumping Plant

no

15

554

Drainage Water Management

ac

1

570

Stormwater Runoff Control

ac

1

582

Open Channel

ft

15

587

Structure for Water Control

no

20

590

Nutrient Management

ac

1

595

Pest Management Conservation System

ac

1

605

Denitrifying Bioreactor

 no

10

607

Surface Drain, Field Ditch

ft

15

610

Salinity and Sodic Soil Management

ac

1

638

Water and Sediment Control Basin

no

10

640

Waterspreading

ac

15

656

Constructed Wetland

ac

15

808

Soil Carbon Amendment

ac

1

815

Groundwater Recharge Basin or Trench

no

15

817

On-Farm Recharge

ac

5

910

TA Planning

n/a

911

TA Design

n/a

912

TA Application

n/a

913

TA Check-Out

n/a


Map

Eligible locations for the Groundwater Recharge Pilot portion of the Fund Pool only.

Watershed-Level Water Conservation projects do not have geographic restrictions within the state of California.

Click map below to enlarge.

Map-Eligible locations for the Groundwater Recharge Pilot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resource Concerns for Ranking Poolboth Watershed-Level Water Conservation and Groundwater Recharge categories.

The goal of conservation planning is to help each client attain sustainable use and sound management of soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources, based on related human considerations (SWAPAE+H). Below is a list of priority resource concerns for the ranking pool, including both Watershed-Level Water Conservation and Groundwater Recharge categories.

SWAPAE+H

Resource Concern Category

Resource Concern

Soil

Concentrated Erosion

Bank erosion from streams, shorelines or water conveyance channels

Classic gully erosion

Soil Quality Limitation

Aggregate instability

Compaction

Concentration of salts or other chemicals

Organic matter depletion

Soil organism habitat loss or degradation

Subsidence

Water

Field, Sediment, Nutrient, and Pathogen Loss

Nutrients transported to groundwater

Nutrients transported to surface water

Pathogens and chemicals from manure biosolids, or compost applications transported to groundwater

Pathogens and chemicals from manure biosolids, or compost applications transported to surface water

Sediment transported to surface water

Field Pesticide Loss

Pesticides transported to groundwater

Pesticides transported to surface water

Salt Losses to Water

Salt transported to groundwater

Source Water Depletion

Groundwater depletion

Inefficient irrigation water use

Surface water depletion

Storage and Handling of Pollutants

Nutrients transported to groundwater

Nutrients transported to surface water

Petroleum, heavy metals, and other pollutants transported to groundwater

Petroleum, heavy metals, and other pollutants transported to surface water

Weather Resilience

Naturally Available Moisture Use

Ponding and Flooding

Air

Air Quality Emissions

Emissions of airborne reactive nitrogen

Emissions of greenhouse gases - GHGs

Emissions of ozone precursors

Emissions of particulate matter (PM) and PM precursors

Plants

Degraded Plant Condition

Plant productivity and health

Plant structure and composition

Pest Pressure

Plant pest pressure

Animals

Aquatic Habitat

Aquatic habitat for fish and other organisms

Elevated water temperature

Energy

Inefficient Energy Use

Energy efficient equipment and facilities

Energy efficient farming/ranching practices and field operations

Ranking Questions

Note separation of Program Questions and Resource Questions below. Assessments will be ranked on only the single “category” with which it is affiliated in those sections. Categories are labeled and color-coded for clarity.

Applicability Questions

Answer Choices

Points

Does the project fit within the requirements for the Watershed-Scale Water Conservation Ranking Pool?

YES

--

NO

--

The Assessed PLU(s) is within the established boundaries for the pilot Groundwater Recharge Fund Pool

YES

--

NO

--

Will requirements for practice standard (815 or 817) be met with the conservation plan, including documentation of the necessary percolation rate for the recharge practice and establishment of a monitoring well, if a suitable well is not already present?

YES

--

NO

--

 

 

 

Category Question

Answer Choices

Points

Within which of the following subaccounts should the application be considered for funding?

Watershed-scale water conservation

--

Groundwater Recharge Ranking Pool Pilot- ON-FARM RECHARGE

 

 

Groundwater Recharge Ranking Pool Pilot- BASIN

 

--

 

Program Question: Watershed-Level Water Conservation Ranking Pool*

Question

Answer Choices

Points

Does the watershed-wide project incorporate one or more of the following:

Water conservation scheduling and if applicable, distribution efficiency, soil moisture monitoring.

100

Irrigation-related structural or other measures that conserve surface or ground water, including aquifer recover practices.

100

A transition to water-conserving crops, water-conserving crop rotations, or deficit irrigation.

--

Resource Questions: Watershed-Level Water Conservation Ranking Pool*

Question

Answer Choices

Points

Will the conservation treatment on assessment PLUs result in an energy reduction?

30 percent or greater.

50

10 percent to 29 percent.

25

Not evaluated.

0

Does the conservation treatment on assessment PLUs includes conservation practices for irrigation water management (IWM) and/or an irrigation system improvement that results in an index score of:

61 or greater

150

51 to 60

135

45 to 50

120

40 to 44

105

35 to 39

90

30 to 34

75

25 to 29

60

21 to 24

45

15 to 20

30

10 to 14

15

9 or less

5

N/A

0

 

Program Question: Groundwater Recharge Ranking Pool (Pilot) - OFR ONLY*

Question

Answer Choices

Points

Has the project area been identified as a high priority for groundwater recharge in a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP)?

YES

25

NO

0

Water availability

An irrigation district has agreed to supply recharge water when available.

100

The site has NO access to district water deliveries. The site has access to winter water flows in a stream course or canal AND has established rights to divert excess stormwater onto the farm for the purpose of groundwater recharge.

40

Site has NO access to district water deliveries or winter water for recharge AND/OR NO established water rights for diverting excess storm water.

-400

 

Siting criteria On-Farm Recharge (OFR) only

OFR only: Does the site have a SAGBI rating of Excellent?

75

OFR only: Does the site have a SAGBI rating of Good?

70

OFR only: Does the site have a SAGBI rating of Moderately Good?

65

OFR only: Does the site have a SAGBI rating of Moderately Poor?

10

OFR only: Does the site have a SAGBI rating of Poor or Very Poor or N/A

0

Resource Questions: Groundwater Recharge Ranking Pool (Pilot) - OFR ONLY*

Question

Answer Choices

Points

Hydrogeologic suitability

Has an on-site sub-surface physical soil investigation (such as deep soil cores, cone penetrometer, or well log data) shown suitable conditions for recharge?

60

Does the project area have a rating of Excellent, Good or Moderately Good on the Land IQ Groundwater Recharge Suitability Index (http://gratviewer.earthgenome.org? Or has electro-magnetic survey shown suitable conditions for recharge?

40

Is the recharge site located on a current or former manure lagoon, feed lot, waste dump, or other potentially significant contaminated site (such as Superfund, etc)?

YES

-400

NO

0

Nutrient management on the recharge site - OFR only

Does the applicant currently engage in Nutrient Management practice #590?

30

Does the applicant currently follow an Irrigation and Nitrogen Management Plan (INMP) under the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (ILRP)?

20

If the applicant does not follow code #590 nor an INMP under the ILRP, is there a documented nutrient management plan in place that includes 4R practices?

10

There is NO documented nutrient management plan in place

0

Pest management on the recharge site - OFR only

Does the applicant currently engage in Pest Management practice #595?

30

Does the applicant follow Integrated Pest Management strategies and have evidence of a pest control plan?

20

There is NO documented pest management plan in place.

0

Source water (Consider the predominant source of recharge water)

The source water is from a river or reservoir.

20

The source water is runoff from
non-irrigated, non-cultivated, non-pasture land.

20

The source water is from a recycled water facility with at least secondary treatment.

5

The source water is from agricultural or pasture land runoff.

5

The source water is from untreated urban runoff.

0

 

Source water Pre-Treatment- OFR only

If the source water for recharge has an identified water quality issue (including sediment) OR if pretreatment of recharge water is required by GSA/permitting agencies, practices for pretreatment of water are included in the conservation plan.

10

Source water for recharge has NO identified water quality issues, including sediment.

10

Source water for recharge has an identified water quality issue and NO practices for pretreatment of water are included in the conservation plan.

0

Question

Answer Choices

Points

Is the project designed to enhance habitat and ecosystems?

YES

5

NO

0

Is the project designed to enhance water supply for disadvantaged community drinking water wells?

YES

5

NO

0

 

Program Question: Groundwater Recharge Ranking Pool (Pilot) - BASIN ONLY*

Question

Answer Choices

Points

Has the project area been identified as a high priority for groundwater recharge in a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP)?

YES

25

NO

0

Water availability

An irrigation district has agreed to supply recharge water when available.

100

The site has NO access to district water deliveries. The site has access to winter water flows in a stream course or canal AND has established rights to divert excess stormwater onto the farm for the purpose of groundwater recharge.

40

Site has NO access to district water deliveries or winter water for recharge AND/OR NO established water rights for diverting excess storm water.

-400

Siting criteria -- Basins only

Basin Only: Does the project site have saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat) greater than 1 foot per day in the surface soil (up to 60 inches depth)? (Web Soil Survey)

75

Basin Only: Does the project site have Ksat less than 1 foot per day in the surface soil (up to 60 inches depth)?

25

 

Resource Questions: Groundwater Recharge Ranking Pool (Pilot) - BASIN ONLY*

Question

Answer Choices

Points

Hydrogeologic suitability

Has an on-site sub-surface physical soil investigation (such as deep soil cores, cone penetrometer, or well log data) shown suitable conditions for recharge?

60

Does the project area have a rating of Excellent, Good or Moderately Good on the Land IQ Groundwater Recharge Suitability Index (http://gratviewer.earthgenome.org? Or has electro-magnetic survey shown suitable conditions for recharge?

40

Is the recharge site located on a current or former manure lagoon, feed lot, waste dump, or other potentially significant contaminated site (such as Superfund, etc)?

YES

-400

NO

0

Source water (Consider the predominant source of recharge water)

The source water is from a river or reservoir.

20

The source water is runoff from
non-irrigated, non-cultivated, non-pasture land.

20

The source water is from a recycled water facility with at least secondary treatment.

5

The source water is from agricultural or pasture land runoff.

5

The source water is from untreated urban runoff.

0

Source water Pre-Treatment - Basins only

If the source water for recharge has an identified water quality issue (including sediment) OR if pretreatment of recharge water is required by GSA/permitting agencies, practices for pretreatment of water are included in the conservation plan.

70

Source water for recharge has NO identified water quality issues, including sediment.

70

Source water for recharge has an identified water quality issue and NO practices for pretreatment of water are included in the conservation plan.

0

Is the project designed to enhance habitat and ecosystems?

YES

5

NO

0

Is the project designed to enhance water supply for disadvantaged community drinking water wells?

YES

5

NO

0

 

 

Updated: 02/28/2022