The term “agricultural water enhancement activity” includes the following activities carried out with respect to agricultural land:
(A)Water quality or water conservation plan development, including resource condition assessment and modeling.
(B)Water conservation restoration or enhancement projects, including conversion to the production of less water-intensive agricultural commodities or dryland farming.
(C)Water quality or quantity restoration or enhancement projects.
(D)Irrigation system improvement and irrigation efficiency enhancement.
(E)Activities designed to mitigate the effects of drought.
(F)Related activities that the Secretary determines will help achieve water quality or water conservation benefits on agricultural land.
The term “partner” means an entity that enters into a partnership agreement with the Secretary to carry out agricultural water enhancement activities on a regional basis, including—
(A)an agricultural or silvicultural producer association or other group of such producers;
(B)a State or unit of local government; or
(C)a federally recognized Indian tribe.
(3) Partnership agreement
The term “partnership agreement” means an agreement between the Secretary and a partner.
The term “program” means the agricultural water enhancement program established under subsection (b).
(b) Establishment of program
Beginning in fiscal year 2009, the Secretary shall carry out, in accordance with this section and using such procedures as the Secretary determines to be appropriate, an agricultural water enhancement program as part of the environmental quality incentives program to promote ground and surface water conservation and improve water quality on agricultural lands—
(1)by entering into contracts with, and making payments to, producers to carry out agricultural water enhancement activities; or
(2)by entering into partnership agreements with partners, in accordance with subsection (c), on a regional level to benefit working agricultural land.
(c) Partnership agreements
(1) Agreements authorized
The Secretary may enter into partnership agreements to meet the objectives of the program described in subsection (b).
An application to the Secretary to enter into a partnership agreement under paragraph (1) shall include the following:
(A)A description of the geographical area to be covered by the partnership agreement.
(B)A description of the agricultural water quality or water conservation issues to be addressed by the partnership agreement.
(C)A description of the agricultural water enhancement objectives to be achieved through the partnership.
(D)A description of the partners collaborating to achieve the project objectives and the roles, responsibilities, and capabilities of each partner.
(E)A description of the program resources, including payments the Secretary is requested to make.
(F)Such other such elements as the Secretary considers necessary to adequately evaluate and competitively select applications for partnership agreements.
(3) Duties of partners
A partner under a partnership agreement shall—
(A)identify producers participating in the project and act on their behalf in applying for the program;
(B)leverage funds provided by the Secretary with additional funds to help achieve project objectives;
(C)conduct monitoring and evaluation of project effects; and
(D)at the conclusion of the project, report to the Secretary on project results.
(d) Agricultural water enhancement activities by producers
The Secretary shall select agricultural water enhancement activities proposed by producers according to applicable requirements under the environmental quality incentives program.
(e) Agricultural water enhancement activities by partners
(1) Competitive process
The Secretary shall conduct a competitive process to select partners. In carrying out the process, the Secretary shall make public the criteria used in evaluating applications.
(2) Authority to give priority to certain proposals
The Secretary may give a higher priority to proposals from partners that—
(A)include high percentages of agricultural land and producers in a region or other appropriate area;
(B)result in high levels of applied agricultural water quality and water conservation activities;
(C)significantly enhance agricultural activity;
(D)allow for monitoring and evaluation; and
(E)assist producers in meeting a regulatory requirement that reduces the economic scope of the producer’s operation.
(3) Priority to proposals from States with water quantity concerns
The Secretary shall give a higher priority to proposals from partners that—
(A)include the conversion of agricultural land from irrigated farming to dryland farming;
(B)leverage Federal funds provided under the program with funds provided by partners; and
(C)assist producers in States with water quantity concerns, as determined by the Secretary.
In carrying out this subsection, the Secretary shall—
(A)accept qualified applications—
(i)directly from partners applying on behalf of producers; or
(ii)from producers applying through a partner as part of a regional agricultural water enhancement project; and
(B)ensure that resources made available for regional agricultural water enhancement activities are delivered in accordance with applicable program rules.
(f) Areas experiencing exceptional drought
Notwithstanding the purposes described in section
3839aa of this title, the Secretary shall consider as an eligible agricultural water enhancement activity the use of a water impoundment to capture surface water runoff on agricultural land if the agricultural water enhancement activity—
(1)is located in an area that is experiencing or has experienced exceptional drought conditions during the previous two calendar years; and
(2)will capture surface water runoff through the construction, improvement, or maintenance of irrigation ponds or small, on-farm reservoirs.
(g) Waiver authority
To assist in the implementation of agricultural water enhancement activities under the program, the Secretary shall waive the applicability of the limitation in section
1308–3a(b)(2)(B) of title
7 for participating producers if the Secretary determines that the waiver is necessary to fulfill the objectives of the program.
(h) Payments under program
(1) In general
The Secretary shall provide appropriate payments to producers participating in agricultural water enhancement activities in an amount determined by the secretary  to be necessary to achieve the purposes of the program described in subsection (b).
(2) Payments to producers in States with water quantity concerns
The Secretary shall provide payments for a period of five years to producers participating in agricultural water enhancement activities under proposals described in subsection (e)(3) in an amount sufficient to encourage producers to convert from irrigated farming to dryland farming.
(i) Consistency with State law
Any agricultural water enhancement activity conducted under the program shall be conducted in a manner consistent with State water law.
(1) Availability of funds
In addition to funds made available to carry out this part under section
3841(a) of this title, the Secretary shall carry out the program using, of the funds of the Commodity Credit Corporation—
(A)$73,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2009 and 2010;
(B)$74,000,000 for fiscal year 2011; and
(C)$60,000,000 for fiscal year 2012 and each fiscal year thereafter.
(2) Limitation on administrative expenses
None of the funds made available for regional agricultural water conservation activities under the program may be used to pay for the administrative expenses of partners.
 So in original. Probably should be “Secretary”.
Pub. L. 110–234, title II, § 2903(b),May 22, 2008, 122 Stat. 1091, and Pub. L. 110–246, § 4(a), title II, § 2903(b),June 18, 2008, 122 Stat. 1664, 1819, provided that: “During the period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act [June 18, 2008] and ending on September 30, 2008, the Secretary of Agriculture shall continue to carry out the ground and surface water conservation program under section 1240I of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3839aa–9), as in effect before the amendment made by section
2510, using the terms, conditions, and funds available to the Secretary to carry out such program on the day before the date of the enactment of this Act.”
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