Request for Application for Agricultural Water Conservation Grants, Fiscal Year 2015

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) solicits a request for applications (RFAs) for the state Fiscal Year 2015 Agricultural Water Conservation Grants. The total amount of the grants to be awarded under this request for applications by the TWDB shall not exceed $2,100,000 from the Agricultural Water Conservation Fund. The rules governing the Agricultural Water Conservation Fund (31 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 367) and application instructions are available upon request from TWDB.

Summary of the RFA

Solicitation Date (Opening): Date published in the Texas Register

Due Date (Closing): 12:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Anticipated Award Date: November 6, 2014

Estimated Total Funding: $2,100,000

Eligible applicants: Political Subdivisions, State Agencies, and State Institutions of Higher Learning

Contact: Cameron Turner, Agricultural Water Conservation Division, Texas Water Development Board, P.O. Box 13231, Austin, Texas 78711-3231, Phone: (512) 936-6090, E-mail: cameron.turner@twdb.texas.gov

Agricultural Water Conservation Grant Categories

Applications must be in response to one of the following three categories. Applications must be consistent with the format provided in the TWDB Agricultural Water Conservation Grant Application Instructions document. Please contact TWDB staff if you do not have a copy of this document or if you have any questions about the application process.

1. Agricultural Water Conservation Monitoring – metering required

Funding in this category is available only to confirmed groundwater conservation districts that have promulgated rules requiring metering of groundwater withdrawals and shall only be used to offset not more than half the cost of each metering device. $1,500,000 of the grant funding available under this request for applications announcement is available only to eligible applicants in this category (as set forth in Senate Bill 1 – Appropriations, Rider 25, passed during the regular session of the 83rd Texas Legislature in 2013). Applications must identify an irrigation conservation strategy from the most recent applicable regional and/or state water plan. Applicants must justify the funding amount requested by providing proof of the need for the number of meters. TWDB may prioritize funding based upon projects with the greatest needs (e.g. districts with the largest number of justifiable meters, recent increases in groundwater well drilling activities) or highest local cost-share match. Eligible expenses include up to 50 percent of the metering equipment costs. Following installation, the applicant must report water use data to TWDB annually for each piece of equipment installed for a minimum of five irrigation seasons. Applicants will be responsible for all other costs including, but not limited to, installation, maintenance, data collection, reporting services, and all other expenses for the duration of the contract. The annual data reports should include irrigated acreage, crop type, irrigation rate (inches per acre), total water use, county name, latitude/longitude coordinates (or TWDB well grid location), and annual or effective rainfall totals (if available). Water savings estimates and an explanation of the water savings calculation methodology resulting from use of the equipment must be reported along with the annual water use data. All TWDB contracts related to this item will include a provision stating that the district(s) shall maintain rules consistent with the legislative intent of Senate Bill 1, Rider 25 for the duration of the contract.

2. Agricultural Water Conservation Monitoring – other measurement

Individual applications in this category are limited to $100,000 for agricultural irrigation water use metering, monitoring, and/or other measurement projects. Applications must identify an irrigation conservation strategy from the most recent applicable regional and/or state water plan. Applicants must justify the funding amount requested by providing proof of the need for and intended use of the equipment (meters, measurement devices, or structures). TWDB may prioritize funding based upon projects with the greatest needs (e.g. entities with the largest number of justifiable measurement devices, recent increases in irrigation activities) or highest local cost-share match. Eligible expenses include up to 50 percent of the equipment costs. Following installation, applicants must report water use data to TWDB annually for each piece of equipment installed for a minimum of five irrigation seasons. Applicants will be responsible for all other costs including, but not limited to, installation, maintenance, data collection, reporting services, and all other expenses for the duration of the contract. Water use data must be reported annually for each piece of equipment installed for a minimum of five irrigation seasons following installation completion. The annual data reports should include irrigated acreage, crop type, irrigation rate (inches per acre), total water use, county name, latitude/longitude coordinates (or TWDB well grid location), and annual or effective rainfall totals (if available). Water savings estimates and an explanation of the water savings calculation methodology resulting from use of the equipment must be reported along with the annual water use data.

3. Agricultural Irrigation System Improvements

Individual applications in this category are limited to $200,000 for projects that make irrigation system efficiency improvements. Applications must identify an irrigation conservation strategy from the most recent applicable regional and/or state water plan. Projects considered for this category must implement cost-effective, on-farm, and/or in-district irrigation water conservation strategies identified through previous regional water planning studies, demonstration projects, or other relevant research. Eligible applications must include at least 50 percent cost-share match of total project costs. TWDB may give priority to projects with the highest cost-share or leveraging of other sources of funding; and/or projects that will have a regional impact through facilitating cooperation amongst districts, water authorities, agricultural producers, and private industry. TWDB will consider agricultural irrigation system improvement projects on a cost-share basis. The selected project(s) will implement cost-effective water conservation solutions to improve water use efficiency and maintain or enhance the regional economy, through cooperative agreements with multiple project participants including districts or regional water authorities for the benefit of agricultural producers within the region. Conceivable projects considered in this category include, but are not limited to, replacement or upgrades to outdated systems with newer, more efficient systems; distribution of low-cost soil-moisture and irrigation scheduling devices; implementation of centralized control systems; or other proven, innovative, cost-effective technologies and equipment that will improve irrigation water deliveries or water use efficiency, leading to the realization of actual water savings. The intent of this category is for projects that will conserve the most water, at the least cost, while maintaining or enhancing the productivity and economic viability of agriculture across agricultural regions. Selected applicants must report progress on a quarterly basis; provide at least three annual water savings reports following implementation; and provide a draft and final report upon completion of the project.

Grant Amount

Up to $2,100,000 authorized for Fiscal Year 2015 assistance for agricultural water conservation grants from the Agricultural Water Conservation Fund. Funds awarded through a statewide competitive grants process. TWDB may fund single-and multi-year projects. Overhead is not an allowable expense category eligible for reimbursement through TWDB Agricultural Water Conservation Grant funding. TWDB staff evaluates all proposals based upon the specific criteria set forth in this solicitation and application instructions.

Description of Applicant Criteria

The applicable scope of work, schedule, and contract amounts will be negotiated after the TWDB selects the most qualified applicant(s) and/or the desired project(s) for funding. Failure to arrive at mutually agreeable terms of a contract with the most qualified applicant shall constitute a rejection of the Board's offer and may result in subsequent negotiations with the next most qualified applicant. The TWDB reserves the right to reject any or all applications if staff determines that the application(s) does not adequately meet the required criteria or if the funding available is less than the requested funding.

Application instructions available upon request from Cameron Turner, (512) 936-6090, cameron.turner@twdb.texas.gov, or online at http://www.twdb.texas.gov

Deadline for Submission of Applications

Applicants must submit six double-sided, double-spaced copies on recycled paper and one digital copy of completed applications with the TWDB on or before 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 10, 2014. Applications can be directed either in person to David Carter, Texas Water Development Board, Stephen F. Austin Building, Room 610D, 1700 North Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas, 78701; or by mail to David Carter, Texas Water Development Board, P.O. Box 13231 – Capitol Station, Austin, Texas 78711-3231.