Frequently Asked Questions
WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants Overview
Q. What are the objectives for the WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants?
A. The objective of the WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants Funding Opportunity is to invite states, Indian tribes, irrigation districts, water districts, other organizations with water or power delivery authority, and partnering nonprofit conservation organizations to leverage their money and resources by cost sharing with Reclamation on projects that seek to conserve and use water more efficiently; increase the production of renewable energy; mitigate conflict risk in areas at a high risk of future water conflict; and accomplish other benefits that contribute to water supply sustainability in the western United States.
Water and Energy Efficiency Grant Funding
Q. How much funding is available for FY 2023 WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants?
A. This NOFO will allocate available program funds including fiscal year (FY) 2023 enacted appropriations for WaterSMART Grants and funding available under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), P.L. 117-58 in FY 2022 or FY 2023. The amount of funding available for awards under this NOFO will depend on the demand for funding under this and other categories of WaterSMART Grants. Any awards are subject to a determination by Reclamation that FY 2023 appropriations and/or FY 2022 or FY 2023 BIL funds are available. Updated funding information is available at www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/weeg.
This year, Reclamation will award projects in three Funding Groups:
Funding Group I: Up to $500,000 in Federal funds provided through this Funding Opportunity will be available for smaller on-the-ground projects.
Funding Group II: Up to $2,000,000 in Federal funds will be available for larger, phased on-the-ground projects that may take up to 3 years to complete.
Funding Group III: Up to $5,000,000 in Federal funds will be available for larger, phased on-the-ground projects that may take up to 3 years to complete.
It is expected that the majority of awards will be made for projects in Funding Group I compared to projects in Funding Group II and Funding Group III.
Q. How much funding may any one applicant receive under the FY 2023 WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants Funding Opportunity?
A. No more than $5,000,000 in total WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants funds will be awarded to any single applicant under this Funding Opportunity per fiscal year (i.e., an applicant may receive up to $5.0M in FY 2023 funds.
Eligibility to Apply for Water and Energy Efficiency Grant Funding
Q. Who is eligible to apply for WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grant funding?
A.Under P.L. 111-11 §9502, applicants eligible to receive an award under this Funding Opportunity include:
Category A applications:
- States, Tribes, irrigation districts, and water districts;
- State, regional, or local authorities, the members of which include one or more organizations with water or power delivery authority; and
- Other organizations with water or power delivery authority.
All Category A applicants must also be located in the Western United States or Territories as identified in the Reclamation Act of June 17, 1902, as amended and supplemented; specifically: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
Category B applications:
- Nonprofit conservation organizations that are acting in partnership with, and with the agreement of, an entity described in Category A. Category B applicants must include with their application a letter from the Category A partner, stating that they are acting in partnership with the applicant and agree to the submittal and content of the proposal.
All Category B applicants must be located in the United States or the specific Territories identified above.
Q. What is the performance period for proposals that are funded by the WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants?
A. In general, projects funded under Funding Group I should be completed within 2 years of award; projects funded under Funding Group II and Funding Group III should be completed within 3 years of award.
Applications for projects requiring more time will be considered for funding only under limited circumstances. For example, some hydropower project installations may require additional time to secure necessary permits.
Proposal Development and Selection Process
Q. Will Reclamation advise a potential applicant on the merits of its proposed project?
A. No. Reclamation will not pre-screen, validate, or otherwise discuss the substantive aspects of a proposal. It is up to the applicant to determine whether a proposal aligns with the objectives and criteria of the grant.
Q. How do I determine which Funding Opportunity is the best fit for a proposed project?
Two other related WaterSMART Funding Opportunities will be offered in FY 2023:
Drought Resiliency Projects: Through the Drought Response Program, Reclamation provides funding to help build resilience to drought. Reclamation provides funding for Drought Resiliency Projects that increase water supply flexibility and improve water management to build long term resilience to drought and are supported by an existing drought contingency plan.
Environmental Water Resources Projects: Reclamation is introducing a new category of funding under WaterSMART in FY 2022: Environmental Water Resources Projects. Funding will be provided to support projects focused on environmental benefits and that have been developed as part of a collaborative process to help carry out an established strategy to increase the reliability of water resources. Projects under this new category of funding may be eligible for up to 75% Federal funding. Eligible projects include water conservation and efficiency projects that result in quantifiable and sustained water savings and benefit ecological values, water management or infrastructure improvements to mitigate drought-related impacts to ecological values, and watershed management or restoration projects benefitting ecological values that have a nexus to water resources or water resources management.
Please contact the Program Coordinator identified in Section G. Agency Contact of each Funding Opportunity with questions regarding which Funding Opportunity is the best fit for your project.
Q. May an applicant that received funding last year submit a new proposal in FY 2023?
A. Yes, so long as the new proposal is not for the same work funded the prior year.
Q. If I submitted a proposal for funding in previous years that was not selected for funding, can I re-submit that proposal in FY 2023?
A. Yes. However, it is recommended that you review the FY 2023-Funding Opportunity Announcement and related guidance to ensure that your proposal meets the mandatory requirements and program objectives, including the evaluation criteria.
Q. Can I submit more than one proposal for funding?
A. Yes. Multiple applications for funding may be submitted for consideration (for example, an applicant may submit a proposal for funding under Funding Group I, and a separate proposal under Funding Group II or Funding Group III); however, no more than $5,000,000 in total FY 2023 WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants funds will be awarded to any one applicant under this Funding Opportunity. In addition, each proposal will be reviewed and evaluated on its own individual merits, separate of other proposals.
Q. Will proposals with less than 50% cost share be considered?
A. No. Under this Funding Opportunity, Applicants must provide at least 50% of the total project costs from non-Federal sources, either in cash or as in-kind contributions. Applications submitted under the Environmental Water Resources Projects Funding Opportunity that are focused on environmental benefits and that meet other requirements may be eligible for up to 75% Federal funding.
Note: this cost-sharing requirement is not applicable to American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, or the Virgin Islands.
Q. Can costs incurred prior to grant award be counted towards the recipient's cost share?
A. Project pre-award costs that have been incurred prior to the date of award may be submitted for consideration as an allowable reimbursable expense. In no case will pre-award costs incurred prior to April 01, 2022, be considered for cost share purposes. Note: Ground disturbing activities, including any construction or installation activities, may not occur until environmental compliance is complete and a notice to proceed is issued.
Q. How should the recipient plan for Environmental and Cultural Resources compliance costs?
A. Every project funded under this program will have environmental and cultural resources compliance activities undertaken by Reclamation and the recipient. Depending on the potential impacts of the project, Reclamation may be able to complete its compliance activities without additional cost to the recipient. Where environmental or cultural resources compliance requires significant participation by Reclamation, costs incurred by Reclamation will be added as a line item to the budget during development of the financial assistance agreement and cost shared accordingly (i.e., withheld from the Federal award amount). Any costs to the recipient associated with compliance will be identified during the process of developing a final project budget for inclusion in the financial assistance agreement.
Q. Can an applicant use funding provided under the American Rescue Plan Act as cost-share?
A. In general, yes, funding provided to states, U.S. territories, and Tribal governments under the American Rescue Plan Act (42 USC §802(c) and 42 USC §803(c)) may be counted toward non-Federal cost-share requirements for WaterSmart and similar Reclamation grant programs. Each Notice of Funding Opportunity describes other requirements applicable to all cost-share contributions. Please contact program staff if you would like to discuss further.