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Water Desalination Research And Development Program

Program Descriptions

Program Number



Water Desalination Research And Development Program


Federal Agency




Water Desalination Act of 1996, Public Law 104-298, 42 U.S.C. 10301.






The Water Desalination Act of 1996 is based on the fundamental need in the United States and world-wide for additional sources of high quality water. Therefore, the primary objective of the program is to develop more costeffective, technologically efficient, and implementable methods by which usable water can be produced from saline water or water otherwise impaired or contaminated. The two principal parts of the program are: (1) perform research on desalination technologies and related issues to advance the state of the art forward (research and studies), and (2) conduct development and demonstration activities to test technological advancements, confirm economics, and gain public acceptance (development projects).


Types of Assistance

Project Grants (Cooperative Agreements).


Uses and Use Restrictions

To be used to support research and studies, demonstration and development projects and related activities, as described in the Act.


Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Any responsible source, to include individuals, State and local entities, public nonprofit institutions/organizations, other public institutions/organizations, Federally recognized Indian Tribal Governments, small businesses, profit organizations, private nonprofit institutions/organizations, quasi-public nonprofit institutions/organizations, and other private institutions/organizations may submit a proposal which will be considered by Reclamation. Foreign entities, other than United States-Mexico binational research foundations and inter-university research programs established by the two countries, are not eligible for funding under the Act. Federal agencies are not eligible to apply.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Individuals, State and local entities, public nonprofit institutions/organizations, other public institutions/organizations, Federally recognized Indian Tribal Governments, small businesses, profit organizations, private nonprofit institutions/organizations, quasi-public nonprofit institutions/organizations, other private institutions/organizations, and United States-Mexico binational research foundations and inter-university research programs established by the two countries.


(1) A detailed written technical proposal including the current status of the technology supporting the proposed research, technical approach proposed to accomplish the work, a scope of work which separates the work into major tasks, applicability to local and/or national water problems, type of personnel participating in the research, type and location of facilities and equipment that will be utilized by the project applicant, experience in this type of research, the environmental impact of the research, an estimate of the costs and/or cost savings ($/1000 gal) and economic benefit of the technology, and other information that may be useful for proposal evaluation. (2) A detailed project cost proposal including a budget covering salaries and wages, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, subcontracts, indirect cost rates, funding sources and commitments, cost-sharing, and a breakdown of costs by task.


Application and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

On an annual basis, a pre-proposal solicitation announcement is issued by Reclamation. Submission of a pre-proposal is not mandatory; however, offerors are strongly encouraged to do so in order to receive the benefit of the initial preproposal screening process and thereby eliminate the possibility of submitting a full proposal that would not be considered for award. The pre-proposal application limits the description of a proposed project to six pages. The project description must address each of the following areas: (1) Description of the project objective(s). (2) Description of the approach to be taken to meet the project objectives. (3) Description of the relevance of the project to the Program objectives and specific research Task area. (4) Estimate of the costs and/or cost savings ($/1000 gal) and economic benefits of the technology. (5) Anticipated funding partners, if any. Applicants must submit an SF-424 with their preproposal. Questions regarding the pre-proposal process should be directed to the Grants and Cooperative Agreements Officer identified in the pre-proposal solicitation package. This program is eligible for coverage under E.O. 12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review.

Application Procedure

A full proposal solicitation package is issued annually by Reclamation. There will be a general solicitation and one for pilot plants or a demonstration project in FY02. Submission of full technical and cost proposals in accordance with the instructions stated in the solicitation document is mandatory. Additionally, applicants must submit all applicable SF-424 forms and a DI-2010 form which will be included in the solicitation document.

Award Procedure

The number of awards, maximum funding amount per award, and areas of interest for which proposals will be considered, are determined on an annual basis and are dependent upon the annual appropriation from Congress. Proposals received in response to the annual solicitation are reviewed on the basis of a competitive, merit- review process, and are rated in accordance with evaluation criteria stated in the solicitation document. Reclamation will make awards for the highest rated proposals based on the amount of funding available each year. Reclamation reserves the right to make awards to maintain balance among the program objectives listed in the solicitation document.


Contact Reclamation for solicitation and proposal dates and deadlines.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Contact Reclamation for the range of time when proposals are approved or disapproved.


Not applicable. Reclamation will, however, provide all applicants with information on why their proposals were not selected.



Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

The Federal share of the cost of a project or activity carried out under this Act shall not exceed 50 percent of the total cost of the project or activity. A Federal contribution in excess of 25 percent for a project carried out under this Act may not be made unless the Secretary of the Interior determines that the project is not feasible without such increased Federal contribution. Costs of operation, maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation of facilities funded under the authority of this Act shall be nonfederal responsibilities. In each fiscal year, up to $1,000,000 may be awarded to institutions of higher education, including United States-Mexico binational research foundations and interuniversity research programs established by the two countries, for research grants or cooperative agreements without any cost-sharing requirement.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Solicitation is made for projects of 12 months duration or less (follow-on funding may be available for additional research studies, pilot-plant projects, or demonstration projects). No-cost extensions to awarded agreements are provided for unique projects that can justify additional time beyond the 12- month duration.


Post Assistance Requirements


The Recipient shall furnish quarterly reports and a final report as a permanent record of the work accomplished under the agreement. A midterm project review shall be held at the Recipient's site approximately 3 to 6 months after project award. Approximately at the time of delivery of the draft final report, the Project Manager shall make a presentation in Denver on the overall progress of the project.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133, "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.


The Recipient shall maintain project records in accordance with the applicable OMB Circular regulations.


Financial Information

Account Identification



FY 07 $30,000; FY 08 est $2,275,000; and FY 09 est $1,075,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$20,000 to $150,000; $85,000.


Program Accomplishments



Regulations, Guidelines and Literature

Contact Reclamation for a copy of the solicitation document.


Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

Technical/Program Information: Bureau of Reclamation, Water Treatment Engineering and Research Group, Attn: Kevin Price, Mail Code: D-8230, P.O. Box 25007, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225. Telephone: (303) 445- 2260. Fax: (303) 445-6329. E-mail: Solicitation documents: Bureau of Reclamation, Acquisitions Operations Group, Attn: Randy Jackson, Mail Code: D-7810, P.O. Box 25007, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225. Telephone: (303) 445-2432. Fax: (303) 445-6345. E-mail:

Web Site Address


Related Programs



Examples of Funded Projects

Examples of ongoing agreements awarded in FY 01 are: Development of membranes and membrane holding device for direct contact membrane distillation; Predicting membrane flux decline using parameters derived from field flow fractionation measurements; Determination of impact of magnetic fields on reverse osmosis separation; Study of two-phase technique for removal of biofilm and other foulants from spiral wound reverse osmosis membranes; Optimization at pilot plant level of membrane bioreactor systems for water reclamation; and Pilot study of membrane pretreatment (ultrafiltration and microfiltration) for seawater reverse osmosis desalination. In FY 02 Congress instructed Reclamation to develop a desalination technology progress plan and a Tulerosa Basin Desalination R & D Feasibility Study in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories.


Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Evaluation factors may include, but are not limited to the following: Technical Factors: (1) Demonstrated familiarity with the current technology in the field of work and understanding of the potential difficulties in carrying out the work. (2) Impact of the proposed work on the current technology and on its related economics if a completely successful outcome were achieved. (3) Novelty of approach to the work. (4) Probability of a successful outcome of work. (5) Availability of equipment, instruments, and test facilities required for the work. Managerial Factors: (1) The qualifications, capabilities, and experience of the proposed project manager and other key personnel who are critical to achievement of the proposed objectives. (2) Adequacy, completeness and realism of the research schedule, task phasing, and milestones. (3) The offeror's capabilities, related experience, facilities, techniques, or unique combinations of these which are integral factors for achieving the proposed objectives. Pricing Factors: (1) Cost realism and reasonableness. This requires that costs be directly relatable to items in the research work plan, reasonable, and be appropriate to the project in terms of dollar amount and quantity. (2) Costshare. Offerors proposing to provide the most cost-share shall be given greater consideration.


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