Fresno farmers have one more day to apply for irrigation project money

February 15, 2024
Jesse Vad, SJV Water
by Jesse Vad, SJV Water
Jesse Vad, SJV Water
Jesse Vad, SJV Water

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Farmers in the Fresno Irrigation District have through February 16 to apply for federal money to pay for irrigation projects on their land. 

The WaterSMART program, administered by the Bureau of Reclamation and the National Resources Conservation Service, is sending money to farmers to update water systems and make them more resilient and conservation-focused. The program funds microirrigation systems, irrigation ditch lining, reservoirs, cover crops, well decommissioning and more. 

FID serves 200,000 acres in Fresno County, including the cities of Fresno and Clovis. It was selected by the government as a priority area for the WaterSMART project thanks to its background of working with the Bureau on other water and energy efficient grants, said Kassy Chauhan, special project manager for FID. 

FID will receive $1.3 million through the WaterSMART program each year for four years. The first round is coming to a close on February 16. 

A couple other districts were selected for the program too. Lower Tule Irrigation District will receive $800,000 per year and Tranquility Irrigation District will receive $300,000 per year, said Chauhan. 

Farmers in FID have applied for funding through WaterSMART in the past. But because FID wasn’t selected as a priority area, farmers had to compete with everyone else who applied. The $1.3 million for FID is only accessible to farmers in the district so competition will be much slimmer than before. 

“We’re trying to really spread the message and encourage anyone and everyone that has ever thought about making these on-farm improvements on their individual farms to apply under this program, because I think your opportunity is much greater,” said Chauhan. 

Programs such as WaterSMART are crucial in the face of tightening state groundwater regulation and climate change, said Chauhan. 

So far, FID has received about 30 applications. If those proposed projects don’t exhaust the initial $1.3 million, staff will reopen the application process later this year, said Chauhan. 

Many farmers were discouraged by the level of competition for WaterSMART in previous years, she said. But this time could be very different since the funding is isolated to FID farmers only, Chauhan added. 

To apply, farmers must first be enrolled in the Farm Service Agency. If not enrolled, farmers can call 559-276-7494. Then, applicants must fill out this application and this form continuation. Applicants can then submit their materials  to the NRCS Fresno Field Office, 4625 W Jennifer Ave. #125, Fresno, CA 93722. If you are unable to make it to the field office, please contact FID at (559) 233-7161.

Jesse Vad, SJV Water

SJV Water is an independent, nonprofit news site dedicated to covering water in the San Joaquin Valley. Get inside access to SJV Water by becoming a member.


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