NB_300_22_41 - NB 300-22-41 LTP – EQIP WaterSMART Initiative (EQIP-WSI) Priority Area Solicitation FY 2023
NB 300-22-41 LTP – EQIP WaterSMART Initiative (EQIP-WSI) Priority Area Solicitation FY 2023
National Bulletin: 300-22-41 Date: May 31, 2022
Subject: LTP – EQIP WaterSMART Initiative (EQIP-WSI) Priority Area Solicitation FY 2023

                                                                           Action Required By:  July 15, 2022
Purpose.  To provide State conservationists (STCs) and area directors with requirements for submitting proposals for new EQIP-WSI priority areas.

This bulletin applies to Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and all U.S. Territories.
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2022
Background.  EQIP-WSI is a collaborative effort to target EQIP funding for water quantity and related resource concerns in a way that complements Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) investments made through WaterSMART Programs. Through WaterSMART, Reclamation supports states, tribes, and local entities as they plan for and implement actions to increase water supply through investments to modernize existing infrastructure and attention to local water conflicts. This collaboration between NRCS and Reclamation is a priority of the National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP), a federal partnership to enhance the Nation’s drought resilience. Coordinating both agencies’ investments can improve their cumulative impact on water conservation and drought resilience.

EQIP-WSI is implemented in priority areas as proposed by STCs and selected in a competitive process. STCs should ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion is incorporated in the EQIP-WSI by leveraging locally led partnerships including community revitalization or renewal efforts. 
Explanation.  To participate in the EQIP-WSI, STCs must propose a priority area as described in this bulletin. STCs do not need to resubmit proposals for priority areas that were approved in prior years and may request funding for those priority areas through the State Resource Assessment (SRA) process.

To submit a proposal for a new priority area, State conservationists must use the template in Attachment A to:

  • summarize the priority area and proposed activities in one brief paragraph;
  • provide a map of the priority area, describe the overall water resource problem or opportunity in it, and identify the priority resource concerns addressable by EQIP-WSI assistance;
  • identify the specific Reclamation WaterSMART Program project and describe how it will be complemented by EQIP-WSI activities;
  • identify the type and extent of conservation practices proposed for implementation in the priority area;
  • describe any special environmental concerns, risks, or significant barriers that may impact delivery of EQIP-WSI assistance;
  • describe how EQIP-WSI assistance will leverage community partnerships and inclusive approaches to benefit disadvantaged communities;
  • estimate the number of contracts, contract acres, and EQIP-WSI FA funds needed annually for up to five years;
  • define the anticipated benefits for the priority area and related communities of water users and identify key measures and target thresholds that will be used to indicate a successful outcome; and
  • describe how success or lessons learned will be shared with others.

A list of agriculture-related Reclamation WaterSMART Program funded projects is available at the new EQIP WaterSMART Initiative (WSI) SharePoint page on the CPTAD-Areawide Planning Branch site for reference. Reclamation WaterSMART Programs include but are not limited to:

  • Water and Energy Efficiency Grants (WEEG);
  • Small-Scale Water Efficiency Projects (SWEP);
  • Drought Resiliency Projects (DRP);
  • Cooperative Watershed Management Program Planning and Implementation (CWMP); and
  • Environmental Water Resources Projects (EWRP), etc.

STCs may propose an EQIP-WSI priority area that complements a Reclamation WaterSMART Program project not included in Attachment B. In this case, the EQIP-WSI proposal must include a copy of a supporting document such as a Reclamation WaterSMART study report. If the Reclamation WaterSMART grant project is a planning or study type of project, you must identify the page number in the report where the implementation project being proposed to complement is described. The Areawide Planning Branch can facilitate communication between STCs and regional or Denver Office Reclamation staff about all proposed joint efforts as necessary.

Priority area proposals will be evaluated based on how well the proposed activities:

  • align with and complement the identified Reclamation WaterSMART Program project;
  • leverage community partnerships and inclusive approaches to benefit disadvantaged communities;
  • address a water quantity resource concern and any related secondary concerns;
  • address the overall problem or opportunity in the area; and
  • tracks progress, evaluates outcomes, and shares successes or lessons learned.

A team of subject matter experts on water conservation, drought resilience, diversity, equity, and inclusion, EQIP policy, and Reclamation WaterSMART Programs will review proposals against these criteria and prioritize funding to those that rank above average.

STCs may and are encouraged to submit more than one proposal. All EQIP-WSI priority area proposals must be submitted together in one email by STCs to Dan Dostie at daniel.dostie@usda.gov by July 15, 2022. Following the receipt of State annual funding allocation letters, States will receive a notification of which EQIP-WSI priority areas are approved for implementation.
Contact.  Contact Dan Dostie, Conservation Initiatives Coordinator, Water Management, at (202) 807-9714 or by email at daniel.dostie@usda.gov with any questions about this bulletin.


Acting Deputy Chief for Programs

Attachment A - EQIP-WSI 2022 Proposal Template    
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