FRESNO, Calif., Dec. 19, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Farmers in California’s Central Valley that are interested in conservation practices to manage soil moisture, improve irrigation efficiency, or otherwise conserve ground and surface water resources are encouraged to apply for WaterSMART program funding through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). WaterSMART is a joint effort between the Bureau of Reclamation and NRCS to coordinate investments in the Western US to help farmers conserve water and become more resilient to drought impacts.
“These three new projects take water conservation efforts even further in California’s Central Valley to help farmers extend their available water resources in their operations,” said NRCS State Conservationist Carlos Suarez. “I’m pleased to announce more than $2.3 million available to interested landowners.”
Three new projects in California:
Name: Fresno Irrigation District
Available Funding: $1,300,000
Eligible producers will install micro-irrigation systems, pumps, and pipelines, line reservoirs, manage nutrients, manage residue, plant cover crops, amend soil carbon, and install groundwater recharge basins or on-farm recharge practices. Reduced groundwater pumping allows for more water to be available to underserved communities such as Fresno, Sanger, Biola, Kerman, Del Rey, Calwa, Malaga, Easton, Fowler, and Raisin City. In addition to the water saving and drought resilience benefits, EQIP funding will protect water quality, improve soil health, and improve crop productivity and health.
Name: Lower Tule River Irrigation District
Available Funding: $800,000
Agricultural producers, including historically underserved producers as defined by USDA, will be able to install micro-irrigation systems, pipelines, and pumps, line reservoirs, manage nutrients, manage residue, plant cover crops, amend soil carbon, and install groundwater recharge basins or on-farm recharge practices saving additional water from being pumped from the ground each year. Reduced groundwater pumping allows for more water to be available to underserved communities including Tipton, Woodville, Poplar, Waukena, and Corcoran. In addition to the water saving and drought resilience benefits, EQIP funding will protect water quality, improve soil health, and improve crop productivity and health.
Name: Tranquility Irrigation District
Available Funding: $300,000
Agricultural producers will be able to install micro-irrigation systems and pipelines, line reservoirs, manage nutrients, manage residue, plant cover crops, amend soil carbon, and install groundwater recharge basins or on-farm recharge practices saving water from being pumped from the ground.
The collaboration between NRCS and the Bureau of Reclamation is a priority of the National Drought Resilience Partnership. NRCS makes funding for WSI available to producers in priority areas in the American West through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The funding helps producers apply conservation practices to complement projects funded by the Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART programs. Reclamation’s WaterSMART investments 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.
Common practices to save water in irrigated agriculture include:
- Irrigation water management to build drought resilience;
- Irrigation pipeline to replace leaky pipes and open canals;
- Sprinkler irrigation systems, low pressure types reduce energy demand;
- Micro-irrigation to reduce water loss to evaporation;
- Pumps, higher efficiency types reduce energy demand.
Common practices to increase groundwater recharge functions in watersheds include:
- Brush management to control invasive species and improve soil moisture;
- Riparian buffers to improve water quality;
- Mulching to reduce moisture evaporation.
NRCS has provided leadership in a partnership effort to help America’s private landowners and managers conserve their soil, water, and other natural resources since 1935. For more information, please visit https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/conservation-basics/conservation-by-state/california.
SOURCE USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service