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Reclamation Seeks Comments on Draft Criteria for New WaterSMART Water Marketing Funding Opportunity

New program provides opportunities for applicants to conduct planning activities to develop water marketing strategies to establish or expand water markets or water marketing transactions

Media Contact: Peter Soeth, 303-445-3615

For Release: November 22, 2016

WASHINGTON - The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking comments on eligible activities and evaluation criteria for a new WaterSMART water marketing funding opportunity. Through this funding opportunity Reclamation will provide grants to conduct planning activities in developing a water marketing strategy to establish or expand water markets or water marketing transactions.

Reclamation is seeking comments on the types of activities that will be eligible in this funding opportunity. In the draft funding opportunity, the types of eligible activities defined are outreach and partnership building, scoping and planning activities, and the development of a water marketing framework. Applicants will have some flexibility to define appropriate tasks within these three elements to allow them to design a water marketing strategy that meets their needs.

Comments are also being sought on the draft evaluation criteria that will be used to prioritize proposals in this funding opportunity. The draft criteria currently provide some priority for strategies supporting larger water markets, with more transactions, and strategies supporting a small number or even a single transaction if that strategy is likely to lead to immediate implementation of a water marketing project. The draft criteria also give weight to proposed strategies that will provide significant benefits, such as meeting an important water supply need or decreasing the likelihood of conflicts over water. Other priorities in this draft criteria are proposals with stakeholder support, detailed descriptions of milestones, schedules and budgets.

For this new funding opportunity, water marketing refers to water rights transactions, include the lease, sale or exchange of water rights, undertaken in accordance with state and federal laws, between willing buyers and sellers. A water market refers to a formal arrangement, based on a set of rules and/or water management agreements, to allow for water rights transactions within a specific geographic area. A “water marketing strategy” consists of planning activities including engineering, hydrologic, legal, economic, and other types of analysis, and the development of rules, legal agreements, software and logistical arrangements for water marketing.

The water marketing funding opportunity is expected to be posted in February 2017. It will require a minimum 50 percent non-federal cost share contribution and Reclamation will be separating proposals in to two funding groups, one for proposals seeking up to $200,000 in federal funds and another for proposals seeking up to $400,000.

Send your comments on water marketing evaluation criteria and project types to Avra Morgan at aomorgan@usbr.gov. Comments on the draft criteria will be accepted through Jan. 6, 2017, at 4 p.m. MST.

WaterSMART is the Department of the Interior's sustainable water initiative that uses the best available science to improve water conservation and help water resource managers identify strategies to narrow the gap between supply and demand. For more information on the WaterSMART program or download the draft criteria please visit https://www.usbr.gov/watersmart.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.