Environmental Quality Incentives Program

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a water conservation program in which the well owner voluntarily retires their large-capacity water right used for irrigation and in exchange is provided annual compensation through the NRCS and RRWCD. The contract length may vary.

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What You Need to Know
About EQIP

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a conservation program through the Natural Resources Conservation Services, (NRCS) in which a large capacity water right is permanently retired and the applicant is allowed to use the acreage for dryland farming or for grazing. Call the RRWCD office at (970) 332-3552 to inquire about current enrollment information and deadlines.

How to begin the application process

Application begins at the NRCS office. The land being enrolled in the program must have been irrigated two (2) out of the last five (5) years just prior to enrollment, must be within the boundary of the RRWCD and must be owned by the current owner or entity for more than one year. The applicant needs to reach out to the RRWCD when they begin the process of applying for an NRCS EQIP contract.

After you receive an offer from the NRCS for an EQIP contract

After the applicant receives an offer from the NRCS for an EQIP contract, the applicant should contact the RRWCD staff to determine eligibility for an RRWCD Water Activity Enterprise supplemental contract and determine what funding is available. Applicant has 30 days after signing an NRCS contract in which to sign a contract with the RRWCD in order to qualify for RRWCD Water Activity Enterprise funding.

The RRWCD requires the following documents for an EQIP application

  1. Copy of the well permit,
  2. Copy of the deed for the land where the well is located,
  3. If the applicant is signing on behalf of another person or entity, legal documentation from that person or entity must be submitted with the application,
  4. The previous five (5) years of FSA-578 certifications and corresponding maps showing the acres that were irrigated by the well.

The RRWCD Water Activity Enterprise pays on the lesser of three values when determining the number of irrigated acres

  1. Number of acres allowed on the well permit
  2. Number of acres assessed as irrigated by the County Assessor the previous year
  3. Number of acres irrigated two (2) of the last five (5) years according to the FSA cropping records

RRWCD Water Activity Enterprise rates

The total rate paid will be up to $4,250.00 per irrigated acre on land irrigated by wells located within the South Fork Focus Zone. (See interactive map)

If there is a lien on the property

If there is a lien on the property, payments from the RRWCD Water Activity Enterprise will be payable to the
name of the applicant and the name of the lien holder(s) as the payee.

Land owner requirements upon start of EQIP contract

The applicant has one (1) year from date of signing the OAI contract with the RRWCD Water Activity Enterprise in which to permanently shut down the well, to meet with RRWCD staff to complete the Well Owner’s Statement and Request to Cancel a Well Permit and if needed, the Water Well Permit Application (Form GWS-44) if the well owner wishes to apply to down-size the well to a small capacity well for livestock/domestic purposes and to abandon or downsize the well. The applicant has until December 1, of the year the contract is signed to get the adjustments made to the well.

First 5 payments are subject to well shut-off verification

The first of five (5) annual payments is subject to the RRWCD staff verification that the well has been properly
abandoned or was modified to comply with the small capacity well statute. All subsequent payments will be
made by July 1st during the life of the contract.

RRWCD Water Use Fee

The RRWCD Water Use Fee is no longer assessed after the first full calendar year of non-irrigation.

How EQIP-contracted land is assessed by the County Assessor

The land will be assessed by the County Assessor as irrigated land for property tax purposes until the end of the EQIP contract with NRCS.

RAMP-Partial Retirement

EQIP program that allows partial retirement.


  • Well owner agrees to reduce no less than 15% of his irrigated acres.

  • Can dryland farm and graze the retired acres

  • Well owner must make a structural change to irrigation system to be eligible.

  • Well owner agrees to sign form DBB-16 to permanently reduce the acres on final permit to the number of irrigated acres after structural reduction has been made.  The Colorado Division of Water Resources will not allow more than 30”/irrigated acre on amended permit

  • Well owner applies for an EQIP contract with NRCS and RRWCD and receives payment from both entities. RRWCD payments will be made when funds are made available (requires an increase to Water Use Fee).

  • Acres must have been irrigated 2016-date of application to be eligible.

  • Deadline for signing up for RAMP is 12/31/2024

  • Wells located within the South Fork Focus Zone paid $2,000/irrigated acre retired.

WPPP-For Irrigated Dryland Conversion


Well owner is compensated for voluntary permanent irrigation retirement.

Program is only available to wells located inside the South Fork Focus Zone.                                             

To be eligible for WPPP:

  • Land must be owned by the applicant at the time of the EQIP application
  • Acres must have been certified as irrigated 2 out of the last 5 years just prior to enrollment.
  • Wells that were inactive previous to and in 2016, are not eligible for a WPPP contracT
  • Well owner must first apply for EQIP program: In the year the application is made, if the NRCS does not approve the EQIP application due to lack of funding…The well owner is eligible for a WPPP contract with the RRWCD.

RRWCD WPPP contract applicants will be required to provide:

  • A copy of the deed,
  • If the land owner is a corporation/company/partnership etc. landowner must provide paperwork showing who is eligible to sign legal documents for the organization
  • Copies of the last 5 years FSA 578 forms and corresponding maps.                                                                       

The RRWCD will evaluate:

  • The acres allowed as irrigated on the well’s final permit,
  • The irrigated acres on the County Assessor’s records
  • The irrigated acres reported on the FSA 578’s and corresponding maps for the last 5 years

After applicant meets WPPP requirements, the RRWCD will request well owner to provide:

  • An Ownership and Encumbrance Memorandum from the local county abstract office to verify if there is a lien on the property.

RRWCD Board must approve WPPP contracts:

  • Without providing the landowner names or location of irrigated acres, the RRWCD staff will provide a list of the number of WPPP eligible acres in each application for the Board to vote on.
  • WPPP contract includes a permanent dry-up covenant of the irrigated acres. Land owners are allowed to dryland farm or graze formerly irrigated acres.                                                                                                                                                                 

After approval of WPPP contract:

  • Ownership of the final permit allowing irrigation will  be changed to RRWCD
  • RRWCD will compile paperwork for landowner to abandon or downsize well.
  • Well must be downsized or abandoned prior to December 1st of the year WPP contract with RRWCD is signed.
  • Contract payments will not begin until final permit is canceled and well is permanently modified.

EQIP Program documents

View all documents and records related to the EQIP Program.

RRWCD District Boundary

View a map of wells and irrigated acres within the RRWCD Boundary and view the boundary of the South Fork Focus Zone (SFFZ).

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Public Notice

Regarding a Potential for a Future Per Acre-Foot Fee that Could Include 2022 Water Use

Want More Information?

The staff at RRWCD would be happy to answer any questions you may have about our conservation programs and provide you with more information on how you can get involved. Simply fill out the form and we'll respond as soon as possible.

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