As part of the Obama Administration's continued effort to bring relief to California communities suffering from the historic drought, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced today that the Bureau of Reclamation will invest $20 million in nine water reclamation and reuse projects.
"Climate change impacts are being felt across the landscape in California, but we can bring some relief to the drought stricken region through innovative efforts that will provide communities with a new source of water, support jobs, and stretch their limited water supplies," said Secretary Jewell. "The National Climate Assessment that was just released warns that heat, drought, and competition for water supplies will only increase in California with continued climate change, making water reclamation and reuse an important tool in our efforts to combat climate change."
The Department of the Interior's WaterSMART Program provided the funding for the California projects under Title XVI of the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act. Through the Title XVI program, Interior's Bureau of Reclamation provides funding for projects that reclaim and reuse municipal, industrial, domestic or agricultural wastewater and naturally impaired ground or surface waters. The nine projects in California will receive cost-shared funding for planning, design and construction of their projects.
"Through WaterSMART, the Bureau of Reclamation helps local communities invest in modern water conservation and other infrastructure projects across the West," said Bureau of Reclamation Acting Commissioner Lowell Pimley. "Through comprehensive Title XVI efforts, we helped conserve nearly 390,000 acre feet of water in 2013 -- enough to supply 1.5 million people with water for an entire year."
For complete descriptions on the awarded projects or to learn more about WaterSMART Title XVI funding, please click here.
The Watsonville Area Water Recycling Program in Watsonville, Calif., for example, will receive $3.9 million to reduce over-drafting of groundwater resources and subsequent seawater intrusion. The program recycles 4,000 acre-feet of effluent from the city's wastewater treatment plant each year that is blended with higher quality water to reduce salinity. The recycled water is then transported to agricultural users for irrigation purposes in the Pajaro Valley.
The Victor Valley Subregional Water Reclamation Authority will receive $3 million to assist construction of two sub-regional water reclamation plants to produce high quality effluent that will be used to recharge the groundwater basin and serve recycled water to customers in Hesperia and Apple Valley. The two plants will provide 4,480 acre-feet-per-year of recycled water with a build- out capacity of 17,920 acre-feet-per-year. This recycled water will replace groundwater and water imported through the State Water Project from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
WaterSMART is the U.S. Department of the Interior's sustainable water initiative that uses the best available science to improve water conservation and help water resource managers identify strategies to narrow the gap between supply and demand. Since its establishment in 2010, WaterSMART has provided more than $180 million in competitively awarded funding to non-federal partners, including tribes, water districts, municipalities and universities through WaterSMART Grants and the Title XVI Program.
Proposals were ranked through a published set of criteria in which points were awarded for projects that effectively stretch water supplies and contribute to water supply sustainability, address water quality concerns or benefit endangered species, incorporate the use of renewable energy or address energy efficiency, deliver water at a reasonable cost relative to other water supply options, and meet other program goals.
The WaterSMART funding announcement follows the May 6 White House release of the Third National Climate Assessment, which provides details on how climate change already is affecting every region of the United States--making innovative tools such as water reclamation and reuse essential in carrying out the President's Climate Action Plan.
The National Climate Assessment says:
Increased heat and changes to rain and snowpack will send ripple effects throughout the [Southwest] region, affecting 56 million people -- a population expected to increase to 94 million by 2050-- and its critical agriculture sector. Severe and sustained drought will stress water sources, already over-utilized in many areas, forcing increasing competition among farmers, energy producers, urban dwellers, and ecosystems for the region's most precious resource. Climate changes pose challenges for an already parched region that is expected to get hotter and, in its southern half, significantly drier.