SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is now accepting grant applications for a State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) pilot project for the Southern Desert Region of California. Of the $50 million appropriated to SWEEP in the Budget Act of 2021, CDFA is allocating $2 million for this solicitation. The eight-week application period is set to open on September 13, 2022, and will close on November 8, 2022, at 5 p.m. PT.
California farmers, ranchers and federally and California-Recognized Native American Indian Tribes within the Southern Desert region are eligible to receive funding of up to $200,000. CDFA has defined the southern desert region as Imperial and Riverside counties, east of the Santa Rosa Mountains and San Jacinto Mountains. Supported project components will include the use of weather, soil or plant-based sensors for irrigation scheduling, irrigation system changes, fuel conversion, renewable energy installation, utility interconnections, pump retrofits or replacements.
Projects will be required to reduce on-farm irrigation water use and will have to demonstrate that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from irrigation water pumping will be offset or will not increase following the installation of the project. For three years following project completion, all recipients of this Pilot program will provide post-project water and energy records to CDFA so that the GHG impact of projects can be evaluated in consideration of California’s climate change mitigation goals.
SWEEP was established in 2014 through emergency drought legislation to provide incentives to California farmers who are reducing on-farm water use and GHG emissions from irrigation and water pumping systems. In 2021, CDFA’s Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel convened an ad hoc advisory group (AAG) to make recommendations on improvements to the SWEEP Program. One recommendation was to consider a water-focused incentive program for the Southern Desert Region, where farmers were having difficulty obtaining SWEEP funding.
Detailed information about the SWEEP Pilot for the Southern Desert application process, requirements, and technical assistance resources can be found on the program website at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/sweep.
–California Department of Food and Agriculture