Agricultural Hydro

Apply for Hydropower Funding

How to Participate in the ACRE3 Program.

The ACRE3 program has secured $2.9 million, including $1.45 million from the USDA RCPP program, for financial and technical assistance to help farmers upgrade their irrigation systems to save water and energy.

“Water is vital to Colorado’s agricultural community; by making small hydropower accessible to our producers, we are helping them become more self-sufficient and protect their bottom line while creating more efficiency in their water usage,” says Sam Anderson, ACRE3 Program Manager.

Energy map

CDA has teamed up with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service-Colorado, Rural Development-Colorado, the Colorado Energy Office, and nine other partners through the RCPP program to facilitate the development of low-impact small hydropower on new and existing pressurized irrigation systems.

In addition to pressurized irrigation systems, the ACRE3 program can also support the development of low-impact hydropower projects in irrigation canal drops and small reservoirs.

The Hydropower Partnership Project will make it as easy as possible for agricultural producers to implement hydropower in their irrigation operations. The project aims to install 30 integrated hydromechanical or hydroelectric power systems across Colorado over the next four years. This project also promotes the conversion of flood-irrigated fields to sprinkler irrigation with integrated hydropower to promote water conservation while preserving the irrigator’s full water rights.

Hydromechanical System

Each landowner participating in the Hydropower Partnership Project will work with NRCS to engage in an Irrigation Water Management Plan as part of the resource assessment and conservation activities. With combined funding from the ACRE3program, EQIP, and REAP, landowners could receive as much as 50-75% of project costs to install new irrigation and hydropower systems.

You can learn more about how to use hydropower in your agricultural operation through three useful publications:

Recommendations for Developing Agricultural Hydropower in Colorado   

Colorado Small Hydropower Handbook   

Agricultural Hydropower Technical Manual   


Hydroelectric power

Meeker Wenschhof Project Case Study and Video: Hydroelectric Center Pivot Irrigation System

FERC: Small/Low-Impact Hydropower Projects

How to File a FERC Notice of Intent to Construct a Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Facility

Oregon DOE: Small, Low-Impact Hydropower Information

Hydromechanical power

Bear River Ranch Case Study: Hydromechanical Center Pivot Irrigation System

See “Agricultural Hydropower without Electricity” in"Agricultural Hydropower" on the Horizon in Colorado

“Back to Basics: Direct Hydropower”Low-Tech Magazine

Self-assessment Tools

E3A Micro-hydropower preliminary site self-assessment form

E3A Micro-hydropower site self-assessment – step 2


Video: Meeker, CO Small Hydroelectric Power for Irrigation

Learn about irrigation water management: NRCS-Colorado