The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service plans to roll out $13 million in funding to help producers on private working lands better conserve water resources in coordination with investments made by water suppliers.

NRCS recently announced 31 priority areas for the WaterSMART initiative under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The funding will go to 10 different western states, including California.

“NRCS is always searching for innovative ways to help farmers, ranchers, and other private landowners to conserve our water supply,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS state conservationist in California. “Working with the WaterSMART Initiative in conjunction with our EQIP, will allow us to make a bigger impact in critical areas.”

The priority areas are part of a collaborative effort between NRCS and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation to modernize existing infrastructure and otherwise build drought resilience. The bureau’s WaterSMART programs, available in the Western U.S., work with states, tribes, and local entities to increase water supply. NRCS helps farmers and ranchers voluntarily address water quantity resource concerns and agricultural drought stress. By aligning investments through WSI, NRCS aims to improve water conservation and drought resilience.

Kawek Delta Water Conservation District Area will receive the biggest chunk of funding from Kern, Kings, and Tulare Counties, an $800,000 sum. Seven other water districts in the area also received funding.

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