Department Of Interior

DOI News Header
Office of the Secretary
Contact: Trudy Harlow, 202-513-0574
For Immediate Release: January 13, 2004
Frank Quimby, 202-208-7291
Interior Secretary Announces Challenge Grant Program
for Western Water Conservation Projects

(WASHINGTON) - Interior Secretary Gale Norton today announced a $4 million Challenge Grant Program that will help areas of the West hard hit by chronic water supply shortages to develop conservation and water efficiency projects.

"Because of growing populations and heightened competition for limited water supplies, the chronic shortages in many of the West's watersheds are likely to worsen," Secretary Norton said. "The goal of these challenge grants is to support realistic, cooperative approaches and tools that have the most likelihood of successfully addressing water challenges in the basins facing the greatest risk."

The grants program is being funded under the Western Water Initiative, which was proposed by President George W. Bush in his Fiscal Year 2004 budget request. The Western Water Initiative was the initial step towards Water 2025: Preventing Crises and Conflict in the West, which was announced by Secretary Norton in June 2003.

Water 2025 will help manage scarce water resources and develop partnerships to nourish a healthy environment and sustain a vibrant economy. They will encourage voluntary water banks and other market-based measures, promote the use of new technology for water conservation and efficiency, and remove institutional barriers to increase cooperation and collaboration among federal, state, tribal, and private organizations.

Interior's Bureau of Reclamation will be accepting proposals for matching challenge grants from irrigation and water districts that seek to leverage their money and resources to create water markets and make more efficient use of existing water supplies through water conservation and efficiency projects. By law, proposals must have matching non-federal funds of at least 50 percent.

The grants should focus on achieving the goals identified in Water 2025. The selection process will emphasize projects that can be completed within 24 months and that can reduce future conflicts.

The grants will be awarded in the current fiscal year - Fiscal Year 2004 - which ends September 30, 2004. Notice of the criteria, processes, and deadlines for applications will be published in mid to late February at

FY04 Challenge Grant Program - Frequently Asked Questions

More information on Water 2025 can be found at


Selected News Releases