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Operating Capacity Grants


Operating Capacity investments are awarded biennially and help support the operating costs of effective watershed councils (councils) and soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs or districts) as they engage people in their communities to participate in collaborative, voluntary restoration of watersheds.

Capacity Matters: A 20-Year Review of OWEB’s Operating Capacity Investments is a programmatic review of Operating Capacity grants. The review was conducted by a team from OWEB, Oregon State University, University of Oregon, Oregon Department of Agriculture, and participants from recipient councils and districts.

District Capacity Grants

Capacity grants to districts provide funding for 45 SWCDs to work with landowners to conserve natural resources and lend support to the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) Agricultural Water Quality Management Program. More information can be found on ODA's website.

Council Capacity Grants

These grants help support the operations of councils that engage people and communities in their watershed to participate in collaborative, voluntary restoration and protection of native fish or wildlife habitat and natural watershed functions to improve water quality or stream flows.

Eligibility criteria define how OWEB will determine whether a watershed council is eligible to apply for a Council Capacity Grant. These criteria do not limit or control the existence or creation of watershed councils. Watershed councils may form around the state according to ORS 541.910.

Local Designation

  • Any local government (if previously awarded a Council Support Grant)
  • County-level (new or reorganized councils)

Geographic Area and Population

  • Cover same or larger geographic area as served by a council or group of councils as of July 1, 2013 (cap of 64 grants)
    • One grant per geographic area
  • Minimum population of 500 (residents and absentees)

Action Plan

  • Council governing body-adopted action plan

Legal Entity

  • Council is a 501(c)(3), or
  • Has a fiscal agreement with 501(c)(3), SWCD, city, county, or tribal government

Organizational Structure and Business Operations

  • Bylaws/charter and policies/procedures include standard best-practices governance provisions

The 2023-2025 Council Capacity applications will be open from December 19, 2022 to 5pm, March 9, 2023.

  1. Obtain a login (username and password).
    If your organization already has an OGMS login, skip to step 2.
  2. An OGMS login is required to access the online grant application. Only one login per organization is allowed. If no login exists for an organization, please email ​ ​ ​Leilani Sullivan to request one. Include the following in your email:
    • Organization name and address
    • Grantee Contact Information: name, title, email address, and phone number for the person who will receive all communication from OWEB and sign any grant agreements.
    • Payee Contact Information: name, email address, and phone number for the person who keeps records and submits payment requests and documentation.
    • FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number). OWEB may enter into agreements only with legally established entities. OWEB will review potential applicants prior to creating an OGMS login.
    • Per federal guidance, all OWEB grantees must be registered at the System for Award Management (SAM) before receiving a grant agreement. Entities will received a non-proprietary identifier (called the Unique Entity Identifier (UEI).) This identifier is assigned by SAM (​ is a free service) and entities must update their registration annually.
  3. Log in to the Online Application.
    Guidance to help you fill out the application is always available in the top navigation bar of the online application.​

The 2023-2025 Council Capacity applications will be open from December 19, 2022 to 5pm, March 9, 2023.

​​​After grant applications are submitted:​​

  1. ​OWEB staff check project eligibility of each application.
  2. Initial Review is completed by OWEB staff. Applications are read and reviewed and staff determine if a council 1) Meets all merit criteria and will be recommended for funding at the highest funding level or 2) Does not meet all of the merit criteria or there are questions and concerns. Councils that fall into the second category are part of the secondary review process.
  3. Secondary review process is completed by an external review team and involves an interview of the council staff and board officers.
  4. OWEB staff write evaluations and recommend projects for funding to the board. OWEB staff post evaluations and staff recommendations online.
  5. The OWEB Board awards grants.​

Map of Watershed Councils with Contact Information

Contact Info Map Click the black tab at the bottom of the map to view a table of council contact information. Sort the table by clicking any heading and choosing a sort option. Click a point on the map to see contact information for that area. Zoom the map using + , or a scroll wheel.

Contact List A printable spreadsheet of watershed councils and contact information.

Map of Watershed Councils with Legislative District Boundaries

Legislative Map It is important for public decision-makers to understand watershed enhancement efforts and the natural resource, economic, and community benefits of these projects. The default view of this map shows watershed council boundaries overlaid with senate district boundaries, with a legend to the left of the map. Access other legislative layers by choosing the second icon just above the word. You can then select up to 4 layers. Zoom the map using +, or a scroll wheel. Click the house icon to return to default zoom.

Administrative Rules

View the Oregon Administrative Rules and Procedural Rules for councils.


Please direct questions to Brian Wolcott, Water Acquisitions & Capacity Coordinator, 971-345-7010.