Four Project Areas Added to NRCS Bay Delta Conservation Initiative

Jan 15, 2014, 12:30 ET from USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service

$18 million available for targeted farmland work to conserve and protect water and habitat—Applications due February 21

DAVIS, Calif., Jan. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California has approved four proposed project areas to be added to its three-year old Bay Delta Initiative, bringing the total number of project areas to 15. Farm and conservation groups in the approved areas work with farmers from Colusa to Bakersfield on voluntary projects to conserve and protect water and wildlife habitat.  Farmers who wish to apply for contracts within these project areas must do so by Feb. 21, 2014, to ensure consideration for funding in 2014.

New Projects in 2014


Award Amount

1. Ingram/Hospital

East and West Stanislaus Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs)


2. Lower Colusa Basin Drain

Colusa Glenn Subwatershed Program


3. Semitropic & Buena Vista Water Storage Districts



4. Tehama County- Sacramento River

Tehama RCD


Continuing Projects


Award Amount:

5. Cache Slough Complex

Dixon RCD


6. East San Joaquin

Sustainable Conservation

Western United Dairymen


7. French Camp Slough

San Joaquin RCD


8. Kings River

Kings River Conservation District


9. Lower Snake River

Sutter RCD


10. Walker Creek

Colusa Glenn Subwatershed



11. Waterbirds

CA Rice Commission


Continuing NRCS-Bureau of Reclamation Sponsored Projects:

12. Firebaugh Canal Water District


13. Henry Miller Reclamation District


14. Central California Irrigation District


15. Tulare Irrigation District


"California is seeing some of its most challenging times ever relative to conserving and protecting our vital water resources," said Carlos Suarez, state conservationist for NRCS in California. "Every drop is precious, is valued, and must be used as efficiently as possible. The country and the world looks to our farmers to supply healthy produce, nuts, dairy and other commodities—and wildlife depend upon us for habitat as well. The Bay Delta Initiative helps to focus NRCS aid to farmers and conservation groups working to balance all these needs."

Eighteen million dollars is available for farmers in the approved areas, through the Farm Bill-funded program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  In addition, four of the continuing projects also received funding from the Bureau of Reclamation to improve water delivery infrastructure. NRCS funding then complements that investment by funding needed on-farm irrigation improvements. For example, pressurizing a system for more efficient delivery could be funded by the Bureau while delivering the newly pressurized water to fields with leak-resistant pipes and systems, may be funded by NRCS. The result is a more efficient water delivery system where all the opportunities for water savings are more fully realized.

In addition to farmers and consumers, water birds in the Sacramento Valley are also benefiting from the Initiative. Farmers of rice and other irrigated crops are continuing work on a BDI project that extends the time water is available on fields to enhance agricultural land for wildlife.

BDI project sponsors are required to outline strategies to address one or more of the Initiative's three priority resource goals: 1) Water conservation and irrigation management on irrigated cropland; 2) Water quality improvements including nutrient management and erosion control on irrigated cropland, dairies, and associated areas; 3) Ecosystem restoration for aquatic and wetland habitat.

Since 2012, the NRCS BDI initiative has brought not only $48 million in farmland conservation infrastructure and management improvements to the Bay Delta ecosystem, but also increased conservation planning and technical assistance. Additionally, $32.5 million has been invested in easements to protect historic wetlands in the area. The California Bay-Delta Watershed is remarkable for its agricultural productivity, ecological diversity, and complexity. It is home to a water delivery system which is one of the largest and most complex in the nation. Water for an estimated $400 billion of annual economic activity is delivered through the Bay-Delta system, including $28 billion in the agricultural industry. The watershed encompasses over 38 million acres, and within this area six counties produce more food than any other comparably sized area in the world.

SOURCE USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service