Water Resources on Indian Lands

To support Indian tribes in the effective and efficient management, planning, and use of their water resources.

Examples of Funded Projects

Projects include hydrologic studies of groundwater supply, groundwater modeling, quantitative and qualitative monitoring and analysis of ground and surface water, acquifer investigations, stream gaging; comprehensive water management plans, etc., and also participation in tribal water rights negotiations/litigation.

Agency - Department of the Interior

The Department of the Interior protects and provides access to the Nation's natural and cultural heritage, including responsibilities to Indian tribes and island communities. Departmental goals include resource protection and usage, overseeing recreational opportunities, serving communities and excellence in management.

Office - Applications may be filed with the local Bureau of Indian Affairs' agency office as listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Program Accomplishments

Annually, approximately 25 to 40 percent of the requests for Water Management, Planning, and Pre-development financial assistance are at least partially funded.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Funds are used by tribes to conduct water management and planning project and activities for the purpose of managing and conserving their water resources and to participate in the on-going water rights negotiation and litigation activities to protect and secure their lawful water rights.

All awards are project/proposal specific and are the result of a nationwide competitve process.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments and Native American Organizations authorized by Indian tribal governments.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments and their members and Native American Organizations.


Initial application for financial assistance must be accompanied by a resolution of the governing body of the Indian tribe.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

Informal preapplication conference is recommended.

Technical assistance in preparing the application is available upon request.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

The Bureau's application and prioritization procedure for water programs funding has been published as a Notice in the Federal Register, Vol. 70, No. 201, Wednesday, October 19, 2005 ("Notice of Revised Instructions for Preparing and Prioritizing Water Program Funding Requests"). Completed applications should be submitted by the established deadline to the local BIA agency office listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Award Procedures

Awards are made by the Deputy Bureau Director, Office of Trust Services, Central Office, based on the prioritization of all applications received through a thorough evaluation and scoring by a six-person review team. Awards are usually made shortly after the review team has completed its reviews of all proposals received in Central Office by the due date of September 15th. Any awards are subject to the availability of the congressional appropriations for the new fiscal year.


As published in the Federal Register Notice, all applications must be submitted through the Regional Director of the BIA region with jurisdiction to the Deputy Bureau Director, Office of Trust Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, by September 15th for funding consideration the following fiscal year.


Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, Public Law 93-638, as amended, 25 U.S.C. 450; Snyder Act of 1921, 25 U.S.C. 13, Public Law 67-85, 42 Stat. 208.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

No set times.


No appeal process. The Water Programs funds are annual, non-recurring congressional appropriations and any awards made on the basis of the published prioritization process and the availability of funds.


Funds are appropriated for use in non-recurring projects/activities on a year-to-year basis and are not intended to provide perennial support for tribal programs.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Applications are evaluated and scored based on weighted criteria that have a maximum scoring range of 100 points (congressional and court mandates automatically score 100). No matching requirement, however, applications with available matching funds may score higher.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Awards are made on an annual basis and the funds remain available until expended by the contractor/grantee.

Post Assistance Requirements


Financial status reports, SF 269A, are required.

Water program funds awarded to tribes through Public Law 93-638, as amended, are subject to the requirements of the Act and 25 CFR Part 900.


For awards made under this program, grantees/contractors are responsible for obtaining audits. All nonfederal entities that expend $500,000 or more of Federal awards in a year ($300,000 for fiscal year ending on or before December 30, 2003) are required to obtain an annual audit in accordance with the Single Audit Act Amendments of 1996 (31 U.S.C. 7501 et. seq.) and OMB Circular A-133, the OMB Circular Compliance Supplement and Government Auditing Standards. Non-Federal entities that expend less than $500,000 (for fiscal years ending after December 1, 2003) a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in OMB Circular A-133.


Financial records must be retained for 3 years from the date of submission of the single audit report. Procurement records must be retained for 3 years from the date of final payment. Property records must be retained for 3 years from the date of disposition, replacement, or transfer. Records pertaining to any litigation, audit exceptions, or claims must be retained until the dispute has been resolved.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Total Amount of Awards) FY 07 $4,094,495; FY 08 est $3,846,150; and FY 09 est $3,850,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$10,000 to $200,000.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Notice of Revised Instructions for Preparing and Prioritizing Water Program Funding Requests, Federal Register, Vol. 70, No. 201, Wednesday, October 19, 2005.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Applications may be filed with the local Bureau of Indian Affairs' agency office as listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Headquarters Office

Office of Trust Responsibilities, Division of Water and Land Resources, Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1849 C Street N.W., MS 4650 MIB, Washington, DC 20240. Contact: Division Chief, Telephone: (202)208-3956.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Water Management, Planning, and Pre-development proposals are evaluated according to the type of proposal (as published in the Federal Register Notice, Vol. 70, No. 201, October 19, 2005): Water Management - Indian Water and Associated Resources; Water Management - Coordination/Cooperation/Consultation/Conservation; Water Management - Other; Water Planning and Pre-development - Indian Water; and Water Planning and Pre-development - Other: In addition, all proposals are evaluated on the basis of: Cost Effectiveness, Compliance with Requesting Guidelines; and Efficiency and Accomplishment. Projects are funded based on rankings of the projects Bureau wide, and in accordance with the national program priorities established for the program. Some preference is given to proposals that offer matching funds. Proposals are evaluated on the capability of the prospective applicant to successfully conduct the project, and on the budget and its effective use.

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