Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that the Bureau of Reclamation has selected $32.2 million in WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants and Title XVI Projects and Feasibility Studies to stretch water supplies and conserve energy in the western United States.
"Strong partnerships are crucial to creating a sustainable water and energy supply," said Secretary Salazar. "The WaterSMART program is designed to foster local partnerships and support innovative solutions to the water challenges of the future. This funding will not only help ensure a stable water supply for businesses and local residents but also create jobs, enhance the environment and strengthen local economies."
Secretary Salazar established WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow) in February 2010 to facilitate the work of Interior's bureaus in pursuing a sustainable water supply for the nation. The program establishes a framework to provide federal leadership and assistance on the efficient use of water and integrating water and energy policies to support the sustainable use of all natural resources. Since its establishment in 2010, WaterSMART has provided more than $118 million in competitively-awarded funding to non-federal partners, including tribes, water districts, municipalities, and universities through WaterSMART Grants and the Title XVI Program.
"Providing sufficient water for agricultural, municipal, industrial, recreational and environmental needs is fundamental to the health and economies of communities across the western United States," said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor. "This funding will support the efforts of several local communities to secure their water supplies and reduce dependence on imported water sources."
Eight congressionally authorized Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse projects will receive $20.3 million in funding. In addition, $943,000 will be provided for the development of eight new feasibility studies that will explore potential water recycling projects. The Title XVI program is focused on identifying and investigating opportunities to reclaim and reuse wastewaters and naturally impaired ground and surface water in the 17 western states and Hawaii. Title XVI projects have the potential to stretch water supplies using time-tested methodologies as well as piloting new concepts.
Of the Title XVI funding, seven projects and seven studies are located in California, while one project and one study are in Texas. A complete description of all selected Title XVI projects and feasibility studies is available at: www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/title/.
The Irvine Basin Groundwater and Surface Water Improvement Project by the Irvine Ranch Water District in California, for example, will receive $3.85 million this year to help conserve water. Nearing completion, this project consists of two components. The first utilizes a natural treatment system that uses wetlands to remove contaminants from urban drainage facilities, and the second component pumps and treats brackish groundwater. Combined, these components produce approximately 13,300 acre-feet of water annually.
The congressionally authorized Title XVI projects receive cost-shared funding for the planning, design or construction. Entities receiving feasibility study funding must provide at least 50-percent non-federal cost-shared funding.
The 34 new WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants selected for funding will use $11 million to conserve water and energy through improvements to existing facilities in 11 states-- California, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. These projects are expected to save 56,826 acre-feet of water annually, which is enough water for more than 227,000 people. Combined with the non-federal cost-share, these projects will complete $51 million in improvements.
A complete description of the 34 projects is available at: www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/weeg/.
The Consolidated Irrigation Company near Preston, Idaho, for example, will convert 6 miles of unlined earthen canal with 3.5 miles of high-pressure pipe to address seepage and evaporation losses. Once complete, improvements are expected to save 9,484 acre-feet of water annually. The project also includes the installation of a 500-kilowatt hydropower facility that will generate 2.53 million kilowatt-hours of renewable electricity annually as the pipeline drops into Glendale Reservoir.
Some of the projects selected for funding also will enable farmers to make additional on-farm improvements in the future. For example, in Utah, the Moroni Irrigation Company will convert 12.5 miles of open canal to pipeline, an improvement expected to save 3,000 acre-feet of water annually by reducing seepage and evaporation losses. Once the project is complete, farmers are expected to take advantage of the newly pressurized system to convert from flood irrigation to more efficient sprinkler systems, potentially resulting in additional water savings.
This year, Reclamation received 167 applications for water and energy efficiency grants from water districts, municipalities and Native American Tribes from across the West. These proposals were ranked through a published set of criteria in which points were awarded for those projects that conserve water, incorporate renewable energy or address the water-energy nexus, address Endangered Species Act concerns, contribute to water supply sustainability, and/ or incorporate water marketing.
For more information on the WaterSMART program, please visit www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART.