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$2.7 million awarded to study river basins and improve water systems

 WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Bureau of Reclamation is providing $2.7 million in funding for studies in California, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Texas through the U.S. Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART Program. A total of $1.8 million of the funds will be used to collaboratively study seven basins and identify adaptation strategies in the Western United States where imbalances between water supply and demand exist or are projected. The remaining $900,000 will be shared by eight water delivery systems to study ways to improve water efficiency and operations.

"The funding announced today provides just the latest example of how the WaterSMART program focuses on improving water conservation and sustainability while helping water resource managers provide for future water demand," Salazar said. "Implementation of the WaterSMART Program is a critical tool to help ensure that current and future generations will have sufficient supplies of clean water for drinking, economic activities, recreation and ecosystem health."

Salazar established the WaterSMART program in February 2010 — the “SMART” in WaterSMART stands for "Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow" — in cooperation with Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle, and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor. Since then, more than $77 million has been provided through the program to non-federal partners, including tribes, water districts, and universities.

"Meeting future water demands is vital to our nation’s security as well as our health, economy and environment," said Castle. "Through these collaborative WaterSMART basin studies, Reclamation will come together with other federal, state, and local governments and tribes to assess anticipated future water supplies and demands, and propose jointly crafted solutions to address shortages.

Todays announcements include four full basin studies: Hood River in Oregon; Klamath River in California and Oregon; Lower Rio Grande River in Texas; and the Santa Fe, Upper Rio Grande and San Juan rivers in New Mexico.

The basin studies will incorporate the latest science, including engineering technology, climate models, and innovation. The projects will be cost-shared with the non-federal partners and will include basin-specific plans that recommend collaborative solutions to help meet water demands and foster sustainable development.

In addition to these four full basin studies, three other watersheds were selected to complete plans of study with Reclamation — the Los Angeles Watershed in California, Republican River in Kansas and Nebraska, and Sacramento-San Joaquin Rivers in California. These plans will define the outcomes and set the scope and focus for future basin study application opportunities.

Salazar also announced that Reclamation Commissioner Connor selected eight water systems in California, Kansas, Oregon, and Utah to receive a total of $904,906 in WaterSMART grants to study improving water efficiency and operations.

"Improvements in both water efficiency and energy efficiency are critical to meeting present and future demands across the West," said Connor. "Through these reviews, Reclamation and its partners will identify improvements that enhance the sustainability of limited water supplies and support long-term economic and environmental needs."

The "system optimization reviews" are assessments focused on improving efficiency and operations of a water delivery system. A plan of action is developed identifying efficiency and operations improvements, including the integration of renewable energy components and other physical or operational improvements.

The recommended improvements may be eligible in the future for Reclamation’s water and energy efficiency grant funding through WaterSMART. These grants fund on-the-ground improvements that improve water management, increase energy efficiency in the delivery of water, and other activities to prevent water-related crisis and conflict.

Through WaterSMART, Reclamation also provides funding for pilot and demonstration projects that explore the use of advanced water treatment to create new water supplies, as well as funding to develop tools and information to more efficiently manage water in a changing climate.