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WaterSMART Initiative

Managing water resources in the American West can be challenging. Drought, aging infrastructure, and environmental requirements can strain existing resources. Through NRCS’s EQIP WaterSMART Initiative (WSI), we collaborate with the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to coordinate investments in priority areas for improving our cumulative impact in water conservation and drought resilience.

WaterSMART Initiative Priority Areas in FY22

Arizona - $1.75M in additional funding is available for three areas approved in FY’21 in Apache, Maricopa, and Yavapai, counties:

  • Grover Hills Irrigation District Area: $500,000
  • Roosevelt Irrigation Water Supply District Area: $750,000
  • Upper Verde Watershed and Prescott Active Management Area: $500,000

California -$1.16M is available for two new priority areas approved to start in FY’22 in Riverside and Fresno counties:

  • Eastern Municipal Water District: $160,000
  • McMullen Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency $1,000,000

$3.0M in additional funding is available for eight areas approved in FY’21 in Kern, Kings, and Tulare counties:

  • Buena Vista Water Storage District Area: $135,000
  • Delano-Earlimart Irrigation District Area: $400,000
  • Ivanhoe Irrigation District Area: $300,000
  • Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District Area: $1,200,000
  • North Kern Water Storage District Area: $100,000
  • Pixley Irrigation District Area: $400,000
  • Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District Area: $100,000
  • Tulare Irrigation District Area: $400,000

Colorado – $350,000 in additional funding is available for the Florida Ditch Company project area approved in FY’21 in La Plata county.

Idaho - $3.42M is available for four new priority areas approved to start in FY’22 in Elmore, Franklin, Oneida, and Twin Falls counties:

  • King Hill Irrigation District $1,000,000
  • Preston East Lateral area $887,000
  • St. John East Lateral area $530,000
  • Snake River Twin Falls Clover Irrigation Area $1,000,000

Kansas - $300,000 in additional funding is available for two areas approved in FY’21 in Jewel, Phillips, Republic, and Smith counties:

  • Kansas Bostwick Irrigation District Area: $150,000
  • Kirwin & Webster Irrigation District Area: $150,000

Nebraska - $774,000 in additional funding is available for two areas approved in FY’21 in Chase, Dundy, Frontier, Hayes, Hitchcock, Lincoln, Perkins, and Red Willow counties:

  • Middle Republican Natural Resources District Area $523,215
  • Upper Republican Natural Resources District Area $250,000

New Mexico - $470,000 is available for two new priority areas approved to start in FY’22 in San Juan and De Baca counties:

  • Bloomfield Irrigation District Area $20,000
  • Fort Sumner Irrigation District Area $450,000

$3,970,000 in additional funding is available for seven areas approved in FY’21 in Dona Ana, Eddy, Guadalupe, Quay, San Juan, Sierra, and Socorro counties:

  • Animas Watershed $100,000
  • Arch Hurley Conservancy District $1,000,000
  • Carlsbad Irrigation District Area $500,000
  • Elephant Butte Irrigation District $1,000,000
  • Guadalupe Soil and Water Conservation District $370,000
  • Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District $500,000
  • Navajo Ag Products Industry Area $500,000

Nevada - $500,000 in funding is available for the new priority area of Truckee-Carson Irrigation District approved to start in FY’22 in Churchill county.

Oklahoma - $100,000 in funding is available for a new priority area of the Blue River Watershed Project approved for starting in FY’22 in Bryan county.

Texas - $500,000 in additional funding is available for irrigation district project areas approved in FY’21 in Cameron and Hidalgo counties.

Utah - $1.5M in funding is available for a new priority area, the North and South Litz Lateral, approved for starting in FY'22 in Cache county.

Washington - $1.9M in funding is available for two new priority areas, the Kittitas ($1M) and Whitestone ($900K) Reclamation Districts, in Kittitas and Okanogan counties.

Wyoming - $780,000 in funding is available for two new priority areas: the Lovell ($300K) and Heart Mountain Irrigation Districts, in Big Horn and Park counties.

$500,000 in additional funding is available for one area approved in FY’21, the Hanover Irrigation District are of Washakie county.

NRCS and BOR have been coordinating EQIP and WaterSMART investments since a pilot by California NRCS in 2011.

What’s New?

For Fiscal Year 2022, NRCS selected 15 new priority areas 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.

Learn more about the funding status of each priority area project.

How Does the WaterSMART Initiative Work?

The BOR makes their WaterSMART programs available across the Western US to help states, tribes, and local entities plan for and implement projects that increase water supply by providing funds to modernize existing infrastructure and otherwise build drought resilience.

NRCS uses EQIP WaterSmart funds to complement Reclamation WaterSMART funded projects by helping eligible farmers and ranchers make improvements that align with the paired Reclamation WaterSMART project.

Eligible farmers and ranchers with operations in a selected priority area will be automatically ranked in the EQIP-WSI targeted fund pool when they apply for EQIP funding.

How does WSI benefit producers?

Through this initiative NRCS provides eligible EQIP applicants with the additional resources and tools needed to manage soil moisture, improve irrigation water use efficiency in crop and pasture lands, and protect irrigation water sources from depletion.

In addition, EQIP funding also helps farmers and ranchers improve soil health; reduce soil erosion, sediment, nutrient, and pathogen loss in fields; protect crop health and productivity; and make using equipment, facilities, and agricultural operations more efficient.

How does WSI benefit the public?

By coordinating NRCS’s EQIP and Reclamation’s WaterSMART investments, this federal collaboration works to ensure that water users conserve this vital resource for use during droughts or use by others in the community needing it for clean drinking water or energy, industry, management of wetlands, streams, rivers, and lakes, and other uses. This collaboration is a priority of the National Drought Resilience Partnership.   


With the success of the pilot effort in California from 2011 to 2015, multi-state coordination followed. Between 2016 and 2020, NRCS and Reclamation coordinated to fund complementary investments in 10 different states. The agencies worked together to document and publicize the successes of their collaborative results and coordinated efforts.

NRCS continues to work with partners and producers to address unique challenges faced by agriculture and communities across the West through implementing multi-year funding projects for achieving specific goals. EQIP-WSI activities are planned for each targeted priority area based on how well they complement the activities of a specific Reclamation funded project. Here are results of the current year’s efforts:

EQIP waterSMART Initiative fy20 scorecard thumbnail

EQIP WaterSMART Initiative ScoreCard  (PDF, 2.4MB)

To Learn More About EQIP

For more information about EQIP, how to apply and program eligibility, interested applicants should contact a NRCS field office in the county in which you own land or where you have an agricultural operation. 

Visit the USDA Service Center Locator to find the NRCS representative for your county.

Restored wetland in central Washington.



For more information:
Dan Dostie
Conservation Initiatives Coordinator, WaterSMART Initiative
(202) 720 6558