National Water Center Partners Proposals

Please note:  Funds for National Water Center Partners proposals are now available, and you may submit a proposal any time until the funds have been expended. See NWC Partners RFP Details for more information. Proposal instructions are given below.

Partners Project Proposal Instructions

Funding is available to American and Canadian colleges and universities. Researchers at federally funded laboratories, NCAR, and the private sector are not eligible but may participate as non-OWP funded collaborators.

All projects must also have one or more primary NWC or other OWP collaborators and are encouraged to have one or more River Forecast Center (RFC) partners who will actively collaborate in the research. If assistance is needed to identify potential collaborators, contact the OWP Program Manager (Sam Contorno

1. Suggested Research Priorities

Please note that one of the most important criteria for funding is that the work must be collaborative with one or more primary NWC partner(s) who will actively collaborate in the reserach.

The National Water Center lists the following research priorities:

  • Technique development to assess local and regional skill and performance of using the operational output from the NWM: Projects in this category should explore the validation of the full suite of water budget variable(e.g. streamflow, soil moisture, surface flux) data on local networks; methods for comparing against in-situ observations, or post-processing techniques such as time-lagged ensembles.
  • Expand remote sensing and citizen science for river and stream channel geometries to improve flood mapping.  Emerging technologies in aircraft borne radar provide the potential to accelerate the estimation of stream channel geometry (e.g. location and height of banks, below surface stream beds, and floodplain width.) These measurements are critical input to water resources models and water level and flood extent estimation techniques.  Additionally, recent engagements with the academic community suggest that elements of citizen science could also be leveraged to “crowd source” critical chanel geometry data both through direct measurements or image capture and analysis.
  • Hydro-informatics, visualization and data integration: Projects in this category may include methods for exploring, understanding and managing complex data problems such as the large volume of information within the NWM suite.  Techniques to visualize data and represent complex water resources information to aid decision support services, such as the characterization and representation of uncertainty,are desired. Methods to integrate NWM output with geospatial flood extent and depth information are also encouraged.
  • Hydrologic Ensembles: Projects in this category should potential aspects to improve or extend the implementation of the Hydrologic Ensemble Forecast Service (HEFS, see,  Specific areas for study and improvement include hydrologic ensemble forecast post-processing (including in regulated river locations), ensemble forcings production, automatic data assimilation techniques, and rule-based application of ensemble forecasts for decision support. 

2. Proposal Format

Partners Project proposals are typically 5 to 10 pages in length and should include sufficient detail to document the technical merit of the proposal.

The proposal must include the following:

  • Cover Page: Signed by the appropriate university and NWC officials. Note that the OWP Project Manager (Sam Contorno: or 205-347-1313) must receive a copy of the proposal and approve it before it is submitted to COMET
  • A statement of objectives, including a discussion of the relevance of the proposed project to forecasting problems at the NWC office
  • A description of specific tasks to be accomplished, with a breakdown of those that will be performed by the university and those that will be performed by the NWC partners involved in the project. Any educational exchanges that are expected during the project should also be described.
  • An approximate time schedule
  • A brief description of the principal investigators involved. Please limit curricula vitae, if attached separately, to no more than 2 pages
  • A summary of the contributions to the project. Institutions are encouraged to document any cost sharing or cost reductions, such as the use of off-campus overhead rates, waiving of overhead, donations of faculty time or facilities, etc.
  • A budget request for the duration of the project (one year, maximum). The text of the budget section of the proposal should briefly describe the justification for the costs listed on the budget summary sheet.
  • University's Indirect Rate Agreement, include the most recent copy from the cognizant auditor.

3. Budget

NWC Partners Projects have a maximum budget of $15,000. A budget summary sheet should be provided for the proposed project. The first column lists expenses for the university, beginning at the start of the project. 

The following items will not be funded in NWC Partners Projects:

  • Computers and related hardware (unless special circumstances exist and the request is approved by the UCAR Technical Representative)
  • Foreign travel (requests for exceptions should be made in writing to the UCAR Technical Representative and must include justification for the proposed trip)
  • Journal publications are not allowed because the Partners subawards will have a fixed end date, which will likely be before any journal charges can be billed. However, papers submitted with an NWC lead co-author MAY be paid for by OWP. Contact the OWP Program Manager ( for more information.
  • Faculty salaries

The second column itemizes NWC participation (not par of the funding to the university) to support the project. The following items will be funded by the NWC and should be listed under the NWC column:

  • NWC computers and related hardware
  • Travel for NWC or other federal employees
  • Staff hours for participation in the proposed project (this estimated number is used mainly to evaluate the extent of the collaboration with the university)

In addition, the most recent copy of the university's indirect rate agreement with the cognizant auditor should be included. Invoices will not be paid unless this document is on file.

A copy of the contracting language is available here. We recommend that your contracts office review this page during the proposal process and identify any major discrepancies your institution and UCAR may have (attach separately to proposal). This will help shorten the contracting process if your project is selected.

4. Submission to the COMET Outreach Program for Final Review

It is the responsibility of the university principal investigator to ensure that the COMET Outreach Program receives a complete proposal package, including the following:

Email the final Partners Proposal to the COMET Outreach at

5. Review Criteria

NWC Partners Projects are reviewed by the COMET staff and an NWC representative, generally within one month of receipt. Projects are funded if they meet the Outreach Program guidelines, NWC needs, are technically and scientifically sound, and if funding is still available.

6. For More Information

Please contact Sam Contorno, OWP Program Manager (, Lorrie Alberta, COMET NWC Outreach Administrator (