Water Conservation Field Services | WaterSMART

Water Conservation Field Services Program

Reclamation established the WCFSP in 1996 to encourage water conservation and efficient use of water supplies on Reclamation's projects and to foster improved water management on a watershed basis throughout the western states. The WCFSP was designed to implement the Preferred Alternative in Reclamation's March 1996 Final Environmental Impact Statement on Implementation of the Reclamation Reform Act of 1982 (RRA).

The program provides technical and financial assistance to encourage water conservation either on Reclamation projects or in areas that have a defined relationship to Reclamation projects. Through the program, Reclamation assists water districts and other entities with water delivery authority with planning water conservation measures.

The WCFSP is managed by each of Reclamation’s regional offices and implemented at the local level through Reclamation’s area offices to address Reclamation-wide water conservation priorities and to meet local goals.

Technical Assistance
Reclamation staff provide technical assistance to water districts and other entities that work directly with Reclamation to address water management issues. Technical assistance includes:

  • water conservation planning for improved canal operation and diversion works
  • improved or innovative water measurement, delivery, distribution
  • urban conservation retrofit programs
  • SCADA system design and troubleshooting
  • crop water need determination
  • water quality monitoring

Financial Assistance
Financial assistance is provided through a cost-share grant process.

  • Develop or Update Water Management and Conservation Plan
    Water Management and Conservation Plans provide entities an opportunity to document data on current water supply and demand, prepare a forecast for future water demands, identify water conservation goals, and determine conservation measures (e.g., cost/pricing of water, water accounting, landscape efficiency, information and education, water use regulation).
  • System Optimization Review
    SORs assess the potential for water management improvements and to identify a plan of action that contains recommendations for implementing specific improvements that have the potential to enhance water management. The review can include an analysis of the entire water delivery system, district, watershed, or a portion thereof. SORs can be used to evaluate recommendations and tasks identified in water management and conservation plan (e.g., SCADA and automation to reduce specific issues such as spills, over-deliveries, and seepage).

  • Design of Water Management Improvements
    The goal of designing improvement projects is to prepare for future implementation projects such as pipelines, canal lining, and water measurement structures. This activity provides for funding to design identified water management improvement projects upon completion of prior planning efforts (e.g., Water Management and Conservation Plan, System Optimization Review) used to identify solutions for water management issues.

    Funding for the design of an improvement project should consider the Designing Water Management Improvements activity under the WCFSP. Further engineering and construction may be eligible for funding under WaterSMART Grants: Small-Scale Water Efficiency Projects and Water and Energy Efficiency Grants.

  • Demonstration of Conservation Technologies
    The WCFSP provides assistance for the demonstration of new or innovative technologies or demonstration of an existing technology in a new setting. Area programs are supporting local demonstration of projects, such as improved water measurement, use of automation and telemetry control, approaches to minimizing canal and ditch seepage, on-farm irrigation management methods, and low water-usage landscape.

    The goal of demonstration projects are to increase technical understanding of unfamiliar water management and conservation principles and practices that have not been previously used locally. The demonstration activity should not only “publicly” demonstrate a new or unfamiliar practice; it should contain a process for informing interested individuals and organizations about the outcome of the demonstration.

Past Projects
The Deschutes Canal Lining Demonstration Project is a cooperative effort among the Bureau of Reclamation, several irrigation districts, and several geosynthetic lining manufacturers. Reclamation has constructed 34 canal-lining test sections in 11 irrigation districts in four states to assess durability and effectiveness (seepage reduction) over severe rocky subgrades. The purpose of the study is to develop low-cost canal-lining technologies to reduce seepage over severe rocky subgrade conditions.

11/2002 Canal Lining Demonstration Project Year 10 Final Report PDF 26.05 mb
01/2000 Canal-Lining Demonstration Project 2000 Supplemental Report PDF 1.23 mb


Leah Meeks
(208) 378-5025

Bureau of Reclamation
Columbia-Pacific Northwest Regional Office
1150 North Curtis Road, Suite 100
Boise ID 83706-1234

Last Update: 1/8/21