The State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is gearing up for its 2023 Request for Applications process. This program provides a golden opportunity for California’s agricultural community to secure funding for projects aimed at water conservation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With an anticipated application window opening in November 2023, preparation is key to submitting a successful application. In this article, we’ll outline the steps you can take NOW to be ready.
Why Apply for SWEEP?
SWEEP aims to award approximately $23 million in grants for California agricultural operations committed to water-saving and GHG-reducing projects. A maximum of $200,000 can be awarded to a single project, providing significant financial support for implementing advanced irrigation systems and technologies. Grant recipients have up to 24 months to complete their projects, with an anticipated start date of July 1, 2024.
Eligible Project Ideas (Among Others)
- Soil moisture monitoring and automation to improve efficiency and reduce water use
- Switching to drip irrigation from less efficient methods (i.e. flood)
- Switching to low-pressure irrigation systems
- Fuel savings through reduced pumping, new fuel-efficient equipment and water-saving strategies
- Improved energy efficiency of pumps and the addition of variable frequency drives
- Installation of renewable energy to reduce on-farm water use and energy
- Reduced pumping through water-saving strategies
- Subsurface drip for dairy effluent
Start Your Preparation Early
Identify Potential Projects
Now is the perfect time to brainstorm potential projects that would be suitable for SWEEP funding. Think about irrigation upgrades focused on efficiency, irrigation automation, water recycling systems, and even solar installations. The goal is to identify projects that not only save water but also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Collect Bids from Vendors
Once you have a shortlist of potential projects, start obtaining bids from contractors and suppliers. This will help you formulate a more accurate budget and strengthen your application.
Schedule a Pump Efficiency Test
Efficiency tests can reveal the current condition of your irrigation system’s pumps. This information is crucial for justifying the need for an upgrade to improve efficiency.
Gather Energy Use Records
Collect historical energy consumption records (fuel and utility bills) for the past year, focusing on any pumps you aim to upgrade or replace. This serves as your baseline data for energy consumption and water use.
What to Include in Your Application
- Project Design: Include detailed plans outlining your proposed projects, preferably supported by expert opinions, detailed drawings and vendor quotes.
- Completed Budget Worksheet: Your worksheet should cover everything from labor costs to equipment and maintenance.
- Solar System Quote: If your project involves solar installation, include a detailed quote from a reputable solar contractor.
- SWEEP Irrigation Water Savings Assessment Tool and GHG Calculator Tool: These MS Excel tools are required to quantitatively show how your project will save water and reduce emissions. Alternatively, you can submit a report from the SWEEP Project Assessment Tool.
- Baseline GHG Emission/Energy Documentation: Include records of fuel receipts or utility bills for 12 consecutive months for the pumps impacted by the project.
- Pump Efficiency Tests and Specifications: Attach reports and documents highlighting the specifications and current efficiency levels of your pumps.
Important Considerations & Resources
- CDFA will not reimburse costs incurred before the grant agreement’s start date.
- The CDFA reserves the right to offer an award different from the amount requested.
- Proposed 2023 SWEEP Application Information
- CDFA SWEEP website
With the application period for SWEEP fast approaching, now is the time to get all your ducks in a row. Start preparing by identifying projects, preparing designs, collecting bids, and gathering essential historical data. Your efforts today can significantly enhance your chances of securing much-needed funding for a more sustainable and efficient agricultural operation.
For more assistance with irrigation designs and quotes for materials and installation, please don’t hesitate to contact Cal-West Rain. We’re here to help you every step of the way.
Note: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute official guidance from the CDFA or SWEEP. Always refer to official resources for the most current and accurate information.