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Water Funding Resources


During the November 2022 United Nations Climate Change conference in Egypt, president Biden announced new rules for federal contractors who receive more than $7.5 million a year. They now have to report on their greenhouse gas emissions, defend any climate-related risks they're taking, and set new emissions reduction targets.

These new rules only apply to large-scale suppliers but they reflect a major, practical shift in policies and priorities for numerous funding sources - federal, state, and local programs designed for from teenagers to small scale minority projects to large farms needing to conserve water, improve soil health, and switch from polluting to organic and even living soil methods.

These funding resources offer huge incentives and practical suggestions for establishing desperately-needed sustainable and regenerative irrigation systems.
For any of you making this choice, we’re here to help!

We plan to continually update these links so bookmark this page and come back often for updates.


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National


Agricultural Conservation Easement
Direct payments for managing, maintaining, and expanding projects like expanding cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, and transitions to organic farming. Payments can go up to $40,000/year and up to $200,000 over a 5-year project plan. Contact nrcscig@wdc.usda.gov

Environmental Quality Incentives Program
Investments in solutions for conserving natural resources and improving agricultural systems. This funding is available for improving water and air quality, conserving ground and surface water, improving soil health and wildlife habitats, reducing erosion, and preventing drought and weather volatility. Contact clint.evans@co.usda.gov

Emergency Conservation Program
Provides emergency funding for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by wind erosion, floods, hurricanes, or other natural disasters, and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures during periods of severe drought. The natural disaster must create new conservation problems that Federal assistance is (or will be) required to return the land to productive agricultural use.


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Arizona


SARE Professional + Producer Grant
In this grant program agricultural technical advisors (main applicants) and producers implement projects to address identified needs in sustainable agriculture. With the collaboration of at least three producers, projects must integrate research and education aiming to advance the three components of sustainable agriculture- environmental, economic, and social- and use innovative educational outreach to disseminate new knowledge to producers and other agricultural stakeholders. It is expected that outcomes of funded projects will result in quantifiable benefits for producers, increase the preservation of the natural and social resources upon which agriculture relies, and be shared with other producers. $75,000 limit/one-three years in scope.

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program: Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP-ALE)
The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) helps landowners, land trusts, and other entities protect, restore, and enhance wetlands, grasslands, and working farms and ranches through conservation easements. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps American Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land.

Seeds to Grow
Seeds to Grow is an annual funding opportunity made available through Pinnacle Prevention that aims to support Arizona's next generation of farmers. Farming is hard and sometimes just having access to the right infrastructure and tools can make a world of difference for scaling and expanding food production. Through Seeds to Grow we hope to address some of the barriers identified from Arizona’s local food producers and continue to foster a more vibrant, sustainable, and equitable food system for Arizona. For the purpose of this funding opportunity, infrastructure and equipment may include items such as high tunnels and greenhouses or hoop houses; solar pump systems; walk behind tractors and attachments; food safety equipment such as sinks and wash stations; seeders; produce boxes and totes and containers; scales; water catchment or collection systems; or cold storage. This funding is not intended to support farm labor or personnel; however, funds may be dedicated to installation costs associated with the infrastructure purchase or implementation.

EQIP Conservation Incentive Contracts (EQIP-CIC)
Conservation Incentive Contracts address priority resource concerns, including sequestering carbon and improving soil health in high-priority areas. Through these contracts, NRCS works with producers to strengthen the quality and condition of natural resources on their operations using management practices, such as irrigation water management, drainage water management, feed management and residue and tillage management that target resource concerns, including degraded soil and water quality, available water and soil erosion.

Conservation Incentive Contracts offer producers annual incentive payments to implement management practices as well as conservation evaluation and monitoring activities to help manage, maintain and improve priority natural resource concerns within state high-priority areas and build on existing conservation efforts.

EQIP Organic Initiative Program
The National Organic Initiative, funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), is a voluntary conservation program that provides technical and financial assistance for organic farmers and ranchers, or those interested in transitioning to organic. NRCS can help organic producers improve their operations or help producers transition to organic using a conservation plan tailored to their needs.

Assistance begins with the development of a conservation plan based on a needs assessment and each farmer’s unique goals. The plan includes conservation practices, systems or activities, and the resource concerns identified in the assessment.


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California


Water Conservation Program
Grants that cover 50% of costs for pipelining improvements up to $600/acre; 25% cost-share for upgrading irrigation systems. They also offer 3% interest loans of up to $1000/acre. Apply Online

State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP)
Grants to Install irrigation systems that save agricultural water use and reduce greenhouse gasses. This includes soil moisture monitoring, drip systems, switching to low pressure irrigation systems, and more efficient pump retrofits.

CDFA - OEFI - Sustainable California Grown Cannabis Pilot Program
Funding to develop better systems for sustainable outdoor cannabis cultivation. The focus is on sustainable water and energy use; pest management, better fertilizer practices; and soil health.

The Water Efficiency Technical Assistance (WETA)
$5 million available for grants to farmers that would like to improve their design for agricultural operations with better on-farm water and energy use as well as better nutrient management.

Healthy Soils Program
The Healthy Soils Program stems from the California Healthy Soils Initiative, a collaboration of state agencies and departments to promote the development of healthy soils on California's farmlands and ranchlands.

Climate Smart Agriculture
The State of California has four Climate Smart Agriculture programs that provide resources for California farmers, ranchers and Tribes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and store carbon in soils and trees, while providing multiple benefits to agriculture and the environment.

The Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation
The Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Program fights climate change by protecting our productive farmlands and encouraging compact transit-oriented communities.

Farmworker Foundation Grants
These grant programs provide financial assistance for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers on a variety of projects that address environmental concerns, water & air quality, improved soil health, irrigation efficiency, value-added marketing programs, reduced soil erosion, renewable energy, and more.


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Colorado


Statewide Water Plan Grants
Grant funding for projects with multiple benefits, stakeholders, and purposes. Applications due Feb. 1, 2023.

Colorado Water Trust
For agriculture, municipalities, water providers, and industrial users for protecting water resources, delivery and headgate system upgrades and efforts to improve and protect streamflows. Contact mohara@coloradowatertrust.org

ATM Water Grants
For developing and installing improved ways of transferring agricultural water. Some project goals that qualify include rotational fallowing, long-term water banks, alternate cropping, deficit irrigation alternatives, and groundwater sustainability.

Colorado Healthy Rivers
Funding for projects that help Colorado have cleaner water and wildlife habitats. Contact info@coloradowater.org

Gunnison Conservancy District Program
For water efficiency improvements, new storage, improved delivery, and restoring habitats. 50% match. Contact jill@ugrwcd.org

Nature Conservancy
Supporting farmers and municipalities in western Colorado, the Nature Conservancy helps fund ditch improvement projects. Contact aderwingson@tnc.org

Upper Yampa Water Measurement Mini Grant
Only $500 each but you can apply it for each device you'd like to upgrade - measuring, control components like flowmeters and headgates. Covers up to 50% of total cost. Contact kcraig@upperyampawater.com

Non-Point Source Funding
Funding for projects like converting from flood irrigation, that protect and restore water resources and prevent pollution from problems with selenium, sediment, and pathogens. Contact christa.trendle@state.co.us

Water Supply Reserve Fund
Grants and loans for technical help, water-needs studies, and structural water projects.


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New Mexico


Water Project Fund
The Water Project Fund gives out loans and grants for Water Trust Board projects. This organization has reliable revenue sources and funds applications every year for a variety of New Mexico water projects including water storage and delivery, flood prevention, watershed restoration and management, water conservation and reuse.

Green Our Planet
Green Our Planet works to empower student achievement while giving lessons on conservation, nutrition, and financial skills. With an emphasis on creating school gardens they organize and create intriguing educational gardening adventures. Their $8,000 school garden grants will pay for 80% of the program costs. All schools are welcome to apply!

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
These programs help landowners restore, protect and improve working farms, wetlands, grasslands, and ranches. Native American tribes have access to these grants that prioritize protecting and improving wildlife and migratory bird habitats.

Emergency Conservation Program
ECP provides help for farmers and ranchers to regenerate farmlands damaged by natural disasters or in need of improved methods for water conservation. Because of the recent severe drought conditions, ways to save water have become a priority for these grants.

Conservation Incentive Contracts
These grants prioritize carbon sequestration and improving soil health. These contracts strengthen the supply, quality, and condition of natural resources by improving irrigation systems, water drainage, water management, and till methods. They focus on locations with degradation in the areas of water and soil quality, available water and soil erosion. They give annual incentive payments for setting up better management practices, conservation evaluation, and monitoring.

Western SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant
For agricultural producers and technical advisors working on sustainable agriculture projects, these grants help integrate education and research into on-site/on-farm experiments for improving production, marketing, and the environment while creating quantifiable benefits.


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Utah


American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Water Optimization Funding Criteria
The purpose of this grant is to effectuate the following goals:

  • Improve Water Optimization by reducing consumptive water use while maintaining or improving agriculture production and profitability, and providing increased operational flexibility for agriculture water users moving forward.
  • Improve Water Quantification by showing accurate, real-time measurement of diverted water to demonstrate actual water savings in CFS and acre foot.
  • Document the availability of water after implementation of a Water Optimization Project.
  • Improve and protect surface and ground water quality by reducing overwatering of crops.

 

Agriculture Resource Development Loan program or 'ARDL'
This program is administered by the Department of Agriculture & Food (UDAF) under the direction of the Conservation Commission. The program provides low interest loans to farmers and ranchers for projects which meet the conservation and pollution control goals of the program.


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National Loan Programs


U.S. Department of Agriculture
$3.1 billion for distressed farm loan borrowers provided through the Inflation Reduction Act. 13,000 borrowers have already received support.

Farm Ownership Loans
To “keep America's agriculture growing" up to 100 percent financing to buy land, improve, and expand operations and productivity. Maximum loan amount of $600,000. Links to offices by the state.

Native American Tribal Loans
To help Tribes buy property, expand their operations, save farmland for future generations, and increase agricultural productivity. Application

Microloan Programs
For small, beginning farmer operations like truck farms, farmers’ markets, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), restaurants, organic farms, hydroponic, aquaponic and vertical grows. Application

For Women and Minority Farmers
Guaranteed loan funds for operations, direct ownership, and microloans for women, african-Americans, Alaskan and American indians, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders. Application

Youth Loans
Loans for young people to start up and operate small agricultural projects. Age must be between 10 and 20 years old and usually co-signers are not required. Application


Lawn Conversion Grants and Guidance


The links below show just a few of the cities, states, universities, and USDA co-op extension offices that support conversion of grass lawns to sustainable landscaping and gardens. The number of state, county and local government programs that offer cash or rebate incentives for the conversion process is growing rapidly. Search for these funding sources locally or by contacting your local extension co-op program. Of course, the ultimate incentive of doing something with such a positive impact on the environmental crises we face dwarfs the monetary rewards.

National
The federal government gives grants, suggestions, and information for this kind of lawn-care business. On the linked page, see the heading "Environmental, recycling, and green grants."
7 Types of Grants You Can Use for Your Lawn Care Business

Arizona
Mesa, Chandler offering homeowners cash to conserve water, get rid of grass
Mesa Az - $500 incentive
Grass-to-Xeriscape Landscape Incentive | City of Mesa

California rebates, suggestions, and resources:
Removing Your Lawn

Los Angeles County
"Cash for Grass" Rebate Program gives homeowners up to $5000 for replacing grass with low water use landscaping.
LA County Waterworks Districts | Water Conservation | Cash for Grass

Metro Los Angeles
The West Basin water district gives $3 rebates for every square foot of grass removed -up to $15,000 total.
Grass Replacement Rebate Program

Delaware
Turfgrass Madness: Reasons to Reduce the Lawn in Your Landscape | Cooperative Extension | University of Delaware

Colorado
The State of Colorado recently set up a "Turf Replacement Fund" to expand statewide city programs that pay between $1 and $3 per square foot of grass that is removed before July 1st, 2023. Colorado to incentivize residents to replace grass lawns with water-saving landscaping | Legislature | coloradopolitics.com

Boulder County Colorado, Resource Central gives free low-water plants and lawn removal service discounts to people doing lawn conversions.
Lawn Replacement Program - Resource Central

Maryland
Lawn Alternatives (University of Maryland Extension)

Minnesota
Drought sparks interest in water-saving alternatives to thirsty lawns | MPR News

Michigan
Low maintenance lawns in the Midwest - MSU Extension

Massachusetts
When Grass Isn't Greener (Harvard Magazine)

Oregon
Lawn Alternatives (Portland metro government)

Pennsylvania
The Department of Conservation & Natural Resources offers advice on Lawn Conversion

Utah
Cash incentives offered:
More Utah areas offer cash incentives to remove turf, replace with water-wise plants | KSL.com

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