Monday, April 12, 2010



WATER CONSERVATION PROJECT FUNDING AVAILABLE THROUGH USDA’S AGRICULTURAL WATER ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM

BOISE– The Natural Resources Conservation Service is looking for potential partners for the USDA’s Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP). This program provides funding for projects that promote ground and surface water conservation and water quality improvement. Approximately $20.7 million is available nationally for new AWEP projects during fiscal year 2010.

"This program is designed to address water quality and quantity issues on a regional level," Jeff Burwell, Idaho State Conservationist said. “It is an excellent opportunity for state agencies, irrigation districts or other agricultural organizations to propose projects that deal with local water issues. Proposals compete nationally for these AWEP funds.”

Last year, Idaho received AWEP funding for several projects that reduce groundwater withdrawals in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer.

AWEP provides funding to plan and implement conservation practices in project areas established through partnership agreements. Federal funds are leveraged with the efforts of local and regional partners to encourage a more collaborative approach to addressing agricultural water-related concerns.

“Under this program, eligible entities submit a project proposal to the NRCS national office,” said Burwell. “If the national office approves a project, NRCS enters into a partnership agreement with the entity. Once the project area is established, NRCS contracts directly with agricultural producers in that area to carry out project activities.

Agricultural water enhancement activities include:

water quality or water conservation plan development;
water conservation restoration or enhancement projects, including conversion to the production of less water-intensive agricultural commodities or dry land farming;
water quality or quantity restoration or enhancement projects;
irrigation system improvement or irrigation efficiency enhancement;
activities designed to reduce drought impacts; and
other related activities that will help achieve water quality or water conservation benefits on agricultural land.

Because AWEP is a component of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), producers who apply for assistance must meet EQIP eligibility requirements. Contract terms for producers run from 2 to 10 years.

Eligible partners include federally-recognized tribes, states, units of local government, or agricultural or silvicultural associations and other producer groups.

The AWEP Request for Proposals was published in the Federal Register on April 2, 2010; proposals may be submitted by mail or via courier. Proposals must be postmarked by May 17, 2010 if mailed, or received by May 17, 2010 if delivered by courier. Mailing and street addresses, as well as proposal requirements, can be viewed in the AWEP announcement in the Federal Register. Or go to the National Register’s Web site at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/ and search for search for ‘Vol. 75, No 63, page 16720, AWEP.’

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