Grant Program Offers Vital Support to Colorado Landowners

Drought and water scarcity are increasingly posing challenges to agricultural operations across Colorado, but the Colorado Ag Water Alliance’s (CAWA) Drought Resiliency program serves to provide funding support for incubator projects on farms and ranches that can improve agriculture’s resilience to drought.  

Supporting landowner-led innovation

In 2023, the program supported over 30 projects around the state, with projects ranging from $2,000 to $30,000. The long-term goal is to identify practices that keep farms and ranches profitable during drought, and scale-up those projects. Participating landowners have the opportunity to test and validate innovative strategies on their farms and ranches. These projects will act as “proof of concept,” determining the effectiveness and scalability of various approaches to improve resilience in the face of limited water supplies. 

The grant program is specifically geared towards projects that go beyond general irrigation efficiency improvements. Landowners are encouraged to propose innovative solutions that address the unique challenges posed by drought, excluding funding for standard practices like installing sprinklers, drip irrigation, or piping/lining ditches. 

Understanding outcomes with data

A significant aspect of the grant program is the emphasis on monitoring and recovering water use data from participants’ properties. This data collection will contribute to a better understanding of the impact of implemented strategies on water consumption, helping refine and optimize practices for future drought resilience. Beyond water use, the grant program encourages participants to include economic data related to their projects. This analysis aims to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the strategies being studied in comparison to the overall operation. Landowners gain insights into the economic viability of their chosen approaches, fostering informed decision-making for sustainable agricultural practices. 

While there is no mandatory matching funds requirement, projects that secure additional matching funds will be more competitive in the selection process.  

Landowners interested in the grant program must meet with CAWA staff to discuss their project. Appointments can be scheduled by emailing or calling (720) 244-4629. The deadline for 2024 project submissions is January 2. 

Click here to apply.

As the Western Water Resources Coordinator for the Western Landowners Alliance, Jake provides landowners and collaborative partners information on water and related resources across the West. Before joining the WLA team, he worked as the Policy Communications Coordinator for a grassroots agriculture advocacy organization. Jake is an avid fly fisher, skier, and cyclist who loves exploring all the West offers.