About R&D

    The Research and Development Office (R&D) applies science and technology to advance the agency’s mission to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public.

    R&D's two programs, Science and Technology (S&T) and Desalination and Water Purification Research (DWPR), address the technical obstacles related to our mission. Research authorization is conducted under the Reclamation Act of 1902 (PDF, 5.6 MB) and the Reclamation Project Act of 1939 (PDF, 2.7 MB).


    Stories & Media
    • News - Desalination and Water Purificiation Research Program

      Reclamation launches funding opportunity for desalination and water purification pilot projects

      (April 30, 2019) The Bureau of Reclamation is launching a novel "pitch to pilot" funding opportunity seeking new innovative technologies or processes for desalination and water purification. Top applicants will pitch their ideas to reviewers for the chance to test through a pilot demonstration.

      "We are addressing a critical need to reduce the costs, energy requirements and environmental impacts for treating unusable water. Our approach is unique. We are streamlining the funding process by asking the strongest applicants to pitch their concept," said Desalination Water Purification Research Program Administrator Yuliana Porras-Mendoza said. "This is an opportunity to take a new approach from the lab to a real-world demonstration, providing products that serve the water treatment community and attract commercial interest." Read More →
      View Grant Opportunity at Grants.gov
      Visit the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility

    • News - Science and Technology Program

      Reclamation's Science and Technology project of the year control's invasive mussel biofouling in hydropower cooling systems using hydro-optic UV light

      (April 17, 2019) The Bureau of Reclamation's Science and Technology Program focuses on providing innovative solutions for water and power challenges in the western United States. One research project stood out in 2018 and was recently selected as the Project of the Year. The award was presented to Sherri Pucherelli for the project entitled, "Control of biofouling in hydropower cooling systems using hydro-optic ultraviolet light." The award was selected for its positive impact to Reclamation, other federal and non-federal partners, its efforts to address the current Department of the Interior priorities, the involvement of partners, and its level of innovation. Read More →

    • Research Magazine

      River Restoration

      (April 2019) This issue focuses on work in the field of river restoration aimed at helping Reclamation ensure adequate environmental compliance aligned with Reclamation projects. Reclamation conducts river restoration and enhancements on many of its water projects located throughout the West, often motivated by the goal of recovering threatened or endangered species located within these river systems. Activities may include species monitoring, habitat improvement, stream channel reconstruction, threat reduction, ecosystem health assessment, and more. Read Issue →

    • News - Science and Technology Program

      FY 2020 Science and Technology Call for Proposals

      (April 9, 2019) The Research and Development (R&D) Office is seeking your expertise and experience to address the Bureau of Reclamation’s many challenges associated with managing water and generating power in the West. If you know of a problem our agency faces that can be solved through applied research and the development of new tools, methods, or practices, we strongly encourage you to submit a research proposal under the Science and Technology (S&T) Program by June 4, 2019. Detailed instructions for submitting a proposal are available at the Google site (for Reclamation employees only): FY20 S&T Call Google Site

    • News - Water Prize Competition Center

      Five winners selected to receive $80,000 in Pathogen Monitoring Prize Competition from the Bureau of Reclamation

      (March 28, 2019) To optimize the design and operations of advanced water treatment facilities the Bureau of Reclamation completed a prize competition and has selected five submissions to share $80,000 in prizes in the Pathogen Monitoring Stage 1 Challenge, with half of the prize purse contributed by Xylem, Inc. The team of Hannah Safford and Heather Bischel, both of Davis, California, was selected to receive the top prize of $40,000 in this competition. Read More →

    • News - Water Prize Competition Center

      Bureau of Reclamation launches new prize competition seeking ideas to keep fish safe from water diversions and intakes

      (March 6, 2019) The Bureau of Reclamation is launching a prize competition that seeks ideas to keep fish safe from water diversions and intakes. Keeping fish from entering a water diversion or intake is important for the aquatic species and promoting a more sustainable water supply. While there are exclusion methods for some fish species today, advancements are needed to improve efficiency of those protections, protect a wider range and size of fish species, and reduce the cost of operating, maintaining and constructing conventional fish exclusion methods.

      This is a theoretical challenge. Solvers must submit a written proposal that describes the fish exclusion idea in detail. It should include drawings, illustrations, specifications, supporting data or literature, and any other things that would be needed to bring the idea to practice. A total prize pool of $75,000 is available. The minimum full award for this competition is $15,000. Partial awards may be given. Ideas must be submitted by May 6, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Read More →

    • News - Water Prize Competition Center

      Bureau of Reclamation launches new prize competition seeking ideas to lower cost of continuous streamflow monitoring

      (February 22, 2019) The Bureau of Reclamation is launching a new prize competition seeking new and innovative ideas to lower the cost of continuous streamflow monitoring compared to current methods. While collecting accurate and reliable streamflow data is critical to water resources planning, management, and research, the cost of installing, operating and maintaining the stream gages has caused a decline in the existing network of stream gages. Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey are partnering on this prize competition.

      In this theoretical challenge, solvers are required to develop and submit a white paper detailing their proposed method for continuous streamflow monitoring. This includes the physical principles underlying the proposed method, all equipment and operation and maintenance procedures required to implement the method, and estimated costs. In the future, there may be additional stages to this prize competition that will include lab and/or field testing.

      For this first stage, Reclamation will award up to five prizes for a total purse of $75,000. Additional information on this prize competition and how to submit a solution is available at https://www.usbr.gov/research/challenges/streamflow.html. Submissions must be submitted online by April 8, 2019, by 11:59 p.m. EDT. Read More →

    • Awards

      Bureau of Reclamation allocates $3.9 million for 49 science and technology projects to support water management research in the west

      (October 22, 2018) The Bureau of Reclamation is providing $3.9 million through its Science and Technology Program to address research needs associated with managing and generating power in all western states. This research uses internal expertise and experience to provide innovative solutions that can be applied throughout Reclamation for the benefit of its water and power facility managers, customers and stakeholders.

      "Reclamation is addressing critical and complex issues in managing water and generating power in the western United States," Commissioner Brenda Burman said. "These research projects will help Reclamation and its partners meet the demands of western water users today and in the decades to come.” Read More →

    • Event

      Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility hosts water treatment innovations workshop

      (October 17, 2018) The Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico, hosted the first annual water treatment innovations and networking workshop. Nearly 100 people attended to see more than 11 presentations from clients of the facility about their work with water treatment technologies.

      One of the presentations came from Reclamation's Katherine Guerra, Ph.D., who shared information regarding funding opportunities through Reclamation. There were several other presentations surrounding water treatment technologies at the facility including reverse osmosis, solar energy in the treatment process and innovative electrodialysis technologies.

      Participants were also able to learn more about the facility, including touring the facility to see its offering of technology development, validation testing and demonstration testing.

      BGNDRF is a focal point for developing technologies for the desalination of brackish and impaired groundwater found in the inland states. Located in Alamogordo, New Mexico, the facility opened on August 16, 2007. BGNDRF brings together researchers from other Federal government agencies, universities, the private sector, research organizations, and state and local agencies to work collaboratively and in partnership. Read More →

    • Quarterly Magazine

      FY 2017 Research Results

      (October 2018) In this issue, the Research and Development (R&D) Office is pleased to highlight accomplishments toward addressing the many technical challenges facing Reclamation as it manages, develops, and protects water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner.

      These accomplishments were the result of funding support from two R&D programs (Science and Technology (S&T) and Desalination and Water Purification Research Advanced Water Treatment (DWPR)), and through the many project-level collaborations involving Reclamation Regional and Denver Offices, other Federal agencies, and non-Federal organizations. Read Issue →

    • News - Desalination and Water Purification Research Program

      Bureau of Reclamation launches funding opportunity for 2019 Desalination and Water Purification Research Program

      (September 12, 2018) The Bureau of Reclamation is making the 2019 funding opportunity for the Desalination and Water Purification Research Program. The funding opportunity is available for private industry, universities, water utilities and other research sponsors to submit proposals to cost-share laboratory-scale and pilot-scale projects that address DWPR goals and objectives.

      The goal of the DWPR Program is to increase water supplies by reducing cost, energy consumption and environmental impacts of treating impaired and otherwise unusable waters. Reclamation is interested in research where the benefits are widespread and where research has a national significance — where the issue are of large-scale concern and the benefits accrue to a large sector of the public.

      Applicants for desalination and water purification research projects funding must submit their proposals by 4:00 p.m. MST on Thursday, December 13, 2018. Read More →

      View Grant Opportunity at Grants.gov →

    • News - Desalination and Water Purification Research Program

      Bureau of Reclamation selects 16 projects to receive $3.5 million for desalination and water purification research

      (August 14, 2018) Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman announced that 16 entities will receive $3.5 million for laboratory and pilot-scale research projects as part of the Desalination and Water Purification Research Program. The DWPR Program works with Reclamation researchers and partners to develop more innovative, cost-effective and technologically efficient ways to desalinate water.

      “Desalination is an increasingly important source of water for Western communities" Commissioner Burman said. "Investing in innovative technologies to make desalination more affordable and energy-efficient will help many communities across the United States.” Read More →


Last Updated: 4/26/19