Interior announces $20 million in WaterSMART funding for water and energy projects and river basin studies

Colorado Springs, Colo. — Addressing the Western Governors’ Association, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the Bureau of Reclamation will make $17.8 million in water and energy efficiency grants available to 36 projects in the Western United States and will provide $1.8 million for three river basin studies.

The funding comes on the heels of EPA’s Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, and the Third National Climate Assessment, the most comprehensive scientific assessment of climate change and its impacts on every region of the United States.

“Climate change is already impacting the Western United States in a variety of ways — from reducing water supplies to changing the time and place of runoff from snowpack,” Secretary Jewell said. “Through this funding announced today, Interior is supporting President Obama's Climate Action Plan by providing tools for states and water users to proactively meet future water and energy demands.”

The water and energy efficiency grants and basin studies are parts of the Department of the Interior's WaterSMART Program. Reclamation selects the projects through a competitive process. The water and energy efficiency grants can be used for projects that conserve and use water more efficiently, increase the use of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, benefit endangered and threatened species, facilitate water markets, carry out activities to address climate-related impacts on water or prevent any water-related crisis or conflict.

Basin studies are collaborative studies, cost-shared with non-Federal partners, to address how climate change may affect water supply, demand and operations in the future and identify adaptation strategies to address imbalances in water supply and demand. The comprehensive basin studies funded are those for the Upper Red River Basin in Oklahoma, the Upper Deschutes Basin in Oregon and the Missouri River Headwaters Basin in Montana. Download descriptions of the three basin projects at www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/bsp/docs/2014BasinStudyDescriptions.pdf.

“Through these WaterSMART programs, Reclamation is working to reduce conflict in the effective management of the West's water and power resources,” Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor said. “The water and energy efficiency projects are expected to conserve more than 67,000 acre-feet of water annually and 22.9 million kilowatt-hours of electricity — enough water for more than 250,000 people and enough electricity for more than 2,000 households.”

Any entity receiving water and energy efficiency grants must provide at least a 50 percent match to the Reclamation funding. Entities that are eligible for funding include states, Indian tribes, irrigation districts, water districts or other organizations with water or power delivery authority in the 17 western states, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands.

Out of the 36 projects receiving funding, four projects selected previously will receive additional funding to finish their projects. Examples of the grants include:

The Natomas Central Mutual Water Company near Sacramento, Calif., will receive $147,900 to install an automated control gate in the R Drain Canal, which frequently experiences overtopping. The automated control gate will connect to an existing supervisory control and data acquisition system. It is expected to result in an annual water savings of 3,800 acre-feet of water which is currently lost to spills. The conserved water will remain in the Sacramento River for downstream uses. The project is expected to cost $295,800.

The Duchesne County Water Conservancy District in Roosevelt, Utah, will receive $299,763 to install telemetry equipment, flumes, sensors, water meters, control structure and will automate a major river diversion structure with the Duchesne County service area. By addressing seepage and evaporation losses, the project is expected to result in annual water savings of 7,878 acre-feet of water. This water savings will be used to address irrigation shortages and benefit endangered species habitat in the Colorado River. The project is expected to cost $666,140.

Each basin study — The Upper Red River Basin in Oklahoma, Upper Deschutes Basin in Oregon and Missouri River Headwaters Basin in Montana — consists of four parts:

  • state-of-the-art projections of future supply and demand by river basin, including the impacts of climate change;
  • an analysis of how the basin’s existing water and power operations and infrastructure will perform in the face of changing water realities;
  • development of adaptation and mitigation strategies to improve operations and infrastructure to supply adequate water in the future; and
  • a quantitative or qualitative trade-off analysis of the adaptation and mitigation strategies, findings and conclusions.

The non-federal partners in a basin study must contribute at least 50 percent of the total study cost in non-federal funding or in-kind services.

WaterSMART is the 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 $200 million in competitively awarded funding to non-federal partners, including tribes, water districts, municipalities and universities through WaterSMART Grants and the Title XVI Program.


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