Delta Drought Response Pilot Program
Frequently Asked Questions for Water Year 2023
How should I choose a comparison field?
Please see the Solicitation Summary for desirable specifications for comparison fields.
The same comparison field can be used to estimate consumptive use differences with more than one application. The comparison field does not need to meet the minimum 100 contiguous acres applicable to the proposed project site, but it should be similar in as many characteristics as possible. The comparison field need not be under the applicant’s ownership; DDRPP will not require any communication with the comparison field owner. If the applicant does not know the APN number for the comparison field, please enter “xxx-xxxx-xxx” in response to question 18, because the electronic form requires a response in order to submit the application. The APN can be communicated to the Delta Conservancy at a later date.
Where can I view the recording of the virtual meeting held October 6, 2022?
The meeting recording is available at: https://youtu.be/rq23WOl7Hho
Are bids evaluated and selected based on water savings?
DDRPP Applicants are not required to estimate consumptive use savings for their proposed actions. Each application will propose an incentive payment of dollars per enrolled acre, not dollars per acre-foot of projected savings. From the submitted bids, the DDRPP Selection Committee will review each application and develop its own estimate of the consumptive use savings based on our data from the 2022 Program. We understand that the resulting estimate will not be an exact representation of each proposed field.
The Selection Committee will consider consumptive use savings as one factor, but also consider a project’s location, replicability of the proposed action throughout the Delta, and how the proposed action adds (or doesn’t) to our data set from the 2022 program. These factors will help the Selection Committee determine approximate acres for each action we want to enroll for the 2023 water year, which will help us set the market clearing price based on bids received.
What counts as 100 contiguous acres? I have canals and roads that prevent my fields from being over 100 acres.
Bids must be at least 100 uninterrupted acres. There can be unpaved roads and small drainage ditches in the area bid, so long as it doesn’t exceed 10% of the overall area. If you’re unsure if your area qualifies, please contact us at Contact@DeltaConservancy.ca.gov.
Can I bid the same acres with different practices?
No, each acre you farm may only be bid once, for one practice.
How many bids can I submit?
There is no limit to how many bids you submit. Each bid must have a minimum of 100 acres and a maximum of 1,000 acres. Bid as many acres as you want to, but DDRPP grants for your entity are capped at 1,000 acres.
Can I provide bird benefits for only some of the area I bid? If I do multiple bird benefits do they have to be in the same area?
Yes, you can propose bird benefits on only a portion of the area you bid. The minimum size for any of the three listed bird benefits is 30 acres. If you do multiple bird benefits they do not need to be in the same location, but do need to be a minimum of 30 acres.
If I choose not to participate in bird benefits, will DDRPP still consider my application?
Yes. The market clearing price will be determined before considering an applicant’s voluntary participation in bird benefits. Proposing bird benefits is an optional bonus of the 2023 DDRPP, and applicants will not be penalized if they are unable to provide accompanying bird benefits.
How will water conservation be measured?
Water conservation will be measured—entirely by and at the expense of the State. We will estimate the consumptive use of every DDRPP grantee field using OpenET (www.openetdata.org), which is a scientifically rigorous, cost-effective, and non-invasive satellite-based ET calculation. Up to six grantees can have UC Davis installed and monitored eddy-covariance stations on their fields, which will provide additional high-quality data.
Why was OpenET chosen as the basis for measuring crop consumptive use within the project site and comparison field?
OpenET takes the measurement of the ET in a particular area, through computer evaluation of satellite images down to a resolution of about 30 meters x 30 meters. Comparing crop ET on the two comparable fields provides a basis for a consistent estimate of the consumptive use savings attributable to the practices on the enrolled field (project site) versus the “business as usual” field.
The State Water Resources Control Board has been deeply involved in the multi-year, multi-million-dollar, multi-party effort to develop OpenET over the last six years to create a consistent way of estimating crop ET within the Delta and over large landscapes. Unlike other “black box” commercial offerings, OpenET requires no on-site instrumentation, and all of its data and computing processes are open, transparent, and subject to ongoing peer review. The State Water Resources Control Board, the Department of Water Resources, UC researchers at Davis, Merced and Berkeley and others have worked directly with OpenET through the entire DDRPP analysis to make sure our methodology is scientifically sound, allowing us to get a reasonable and consistent range of values for consumptive use savings.
Will the materials from the outreach meetings be available?
The virtual meeting conducted on October 6 has been posted (see above). Please find the annotated agenda used for each of the meetings here.
I was approved for the program last year, but now I won’t meet this new requirement for a minimum of 100 contiguous acres within a proposed application. Why was this change made?
Smaller sites or those intersected by too many roads or canals have proven difficult to analyze; they present too much “noise to signal,” which confounds an accurate assessment of actual consumptive use.
Can you provide some examples of what you mean by ‘deficit irrigation’?
Deficit irrigation is any proposed reduction to applied irrigation that can be quantified and compared with “normal, conventional, or business as usual” irrigation practices. For example, instead of furrow irrigating mature alfalfa every 28-32 days during the growing season, an applicant might propose to apply only one such irrigation during the summer. Another example is to withhold surface irrigation entirely, growing a crop with only the moisture naturally occurring in the soil profile or available from precipitation or the underlying water table. The key is to measurably reduce surface irrigation to limit crop ET and thus demonstrate ET savings versus “business as usual” irrigation practices.
DDRPP encourages “healthy soil” practices, so we discourage bare ground, preferring a cover crop, short-term flooding, or retention of stubble to protect the soil and discourage weed propagation.
What if I don’t have a physical address for either the project site or the comparison field?
Give a descriptive address (such as “at the intersection of Undine and Wing Levee Roads),” and we will use your description and the map you provide to get the exact location.
Do you anticipate inspecting project sites during the 2023 DDRPP, even though ET measurement will be done by satellite?
Yes, representatives of the Conservancy will visit every project site at least once during the grant period. The purpose is to interact with the farmers, take pictures, and verify implementation of the proposed water conservation practices. UC Davis research associates will visit the six fields hosting on-site monitoring equipment more frequently to service the equipment, take readings, make adjustments, and meet with farmers. All visits will be scheduled in advance for mutual convenience; there will be no “surprise” visits, and DDRPP and UC Davis personnel will observe appropriate field etiquette (closing gates, avoiding operational interference, keeping vehicles out of fields, etc.). Grantees will have no liability for damage cause by or injury sustained by DDRPP personnel while on the grantee’s property.
When will we be notified of our preliminary approval for a DDRPP incentive grant?
Once the bidding period has closed on October 18, the DDRPP Selection Committee will begin the analysis to determine the market clearing price for each type of proposed water conservation practice. The Selection Committee plans to complete its review of all completed applications within the ensuing two weeks (subject to the number and complexity of applications). Applicants should expect preliminary selection decisions in the first part of November. After selections have been proposed by the Selection Committee and Grant Agreements offered to the selected applicants, the Delta Conservancy will submit them for approval by its Board at a meeting tentatively scheduled for November 16. The Conservancy recognizes that this is an aggressive schedule for grant making, so all parties should acknowledge that there could be some “slippage” in the precise timing of the administrative process.
Is it possible for two farmers to coordinate and file a single application?
Yes, cooperation between adjacent farmers to submit a consolidated application that meets DDRPP criteria is fine, as long as they designate one entity to sign the Grant Agreement and otherwise interact as lead in managing the grant with the Conservancy.
Is there a way to print out the application form?
You can access the full list of application questions here so that you can review and prepare to file the application electronically. Note, however, that you will not be able to save an incomplete form and return to complete it later.
Is there a ‘print application’ option we can click before submitting?
No. Once the application has been submitted, an automated confirmation email will be sent to the applicant. The applicant can respond to this email and ask the Conservancy for a copy of their completed application.
Is any reference number needed when sending the two required maps (one showing the proposed project site, the other depicting the comparison field)?
No. Once an application has been submitted, the Conservancy will generate an automated email asking for the maps (an image from Google Earth with the field outlined will be sufficient). Attaching the map images to the reply email allows the Conservancy to match the maps to the proper application.
When will 2022 DDRPP results be available to the public?
A report was published in March 2023 that describes the initiation, solicitation, selection, and analysis of incentivized water conservation actions taken by Delta agricultural water users during the first round of the program. The raw data is available for additional research and evaluation, and can be obtained by contacting Rachel Wigginton at Rachel.Wigginton@deltaconservancy.ca.gov. Additionally, OpenETdata.org data is readily accessible for farmers to access at any time. The information derived from the 2022 DDRPP analysis was sufficiently valuable to warrant refinement and redeployment of a follow-up Pilot Program for water year 2023. A report describing the results from water year 2023 is anticipated to be released in early 2024.
Will DDRPP locate evapotranspiration measurement equipment in the project sites or in comparative fields?
OpenET, DDRPP’s primary method for measuring and comparing crop ET, requires no equipment in either the project site or the comparison field. However, the 2023 DDRPP will identify six fields in which to locate sophisticated measurement equipment (eddy covariance stations and associated sensors) to ground truth OpenET measurements and improve calibration of satellite measurement. If you are willing to host the field equipment (within a 30-foot x 30-foot fence provided by DDRPP) for the three-year study period (through September 30, 2025), please indicate so on your application form. If your application is selected and your field is appropriate for accurate field measurement (as more fully described in the solicitation), DDRPP will put you in touch with the research team from UC Davis to verify the appropriate field specifications for the proper functioning of the equipment.
Is the DDRPP grant money taxable?
DDRPP grants are considered taxable income as there is no statutory language that exempts them (and grants are typically considered taxable income). These grants also do not fall under any other umbrella that may exclude them from income tax, such as IRC section 139 or the General Welfare Doctrine. DDRPP grantees will not receive a 1099.