WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor announced 44 projects in 11 states that will receive $20.8 million in WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants from Reclamation. Reclamation estimates that together the 44 projects could save more than 100,000 acre-feet of water annually — enough for more than 400,000 people. Through reduced pumping and the addition of more efficient equipment, these projects are anticipated to save 10.8 million kilowatt-hours annually — enough energy to power nearly 1,000 households.
The complete list of projects is available at www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/weeg.
"Throughout the West, we’re seeing that drought, growing populations and energy demands and basic environmental needs are stressing our finite water and energy supplies," Secretary Jewell said. "These WaterSMART grants will help stretch water supplies and improve water and energy efficiencies in communities throughout the West to support sustainable uses of our limited resources."
"Water is a precious resource, and using it more efficiently is important to ensure a sustainable supply for agricultural, municipal and industrial use, recreation and for the environment," Commissioner Connor said. "Through collaborative programs such as WaterSMART, the federal government works with state and local entities to update infrastructure and improve operations to help meet water and energy demands now and in the future."
Any entity receiving funding 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.
Examples of funding recipients include:
• The Tranquillity Irrigation District near Fresno, Calif., will receive $300,000 to connect two separate District distribution systems to increase efficiency. The project is expected to result in reduced seepage, evaporation, and storage losses and save approximately 630 acre-feet annually reduce energy consumption by about 216,000 kilowatt-hours each year by reducing pumping.
• The Southern Nevada Water Authority in the Las Vegas area will receive $300,000 to assist its expansion of its existing landscape rebate program which provides financial incentives for residential property owners to replace turf with water-efficient landscaping. The project will save approximately 448 acre-feet per year. Water conserved will be left in the Colorado River for instream uses and will contribute to existing water banks in California, Arizona, and southern Nevada.
• The Commonwealth Utilities Corporation in the Northern Mariana Islands will receive $300,000 to install 1,000 new advanced water meters for agricultural and domestic customers. The grant also includes the installation of the first-phase of a supervisory control and data acquisition system to better manage water delivery and is expected to save 1,562 acre-feet of water annually.
• The Hoopa Valley Tribe in Northern California will receive $1.041 million to install more than 20,000 linear feet of new plastic pipe to replace a delivery system which includes open ditches. The tribe will also install an infiltration gallery, a new pump and meters to monitor water use. This new pressurized system is expected to save approximately 148,399 kilowatt-hours of energy annually.
"The Hoopa Valley Tribe will not only be able to improve its water system, but will also be able to keep the saved water in Soctish and Captain John Creeks, which eventually flow into the Trinity and Klamath Rivers. Here it will benefit threatened coho salmon and green sturgeon and help restore the river," added Connor.
Applicants applied to one of two funding groups. The first funding group included 25 projects that could receive up to $300,000 and generally are smaller projects that may take up to two years to complete. The second funding group included 10 projects, which could receive up to $1.5 million for larger, phased projects that will take up to three years to complete. This will provide an opportunity for larger, multiple-year projects to receive some funding in the first year without having to compete for funding in the second and third years. Nine projects selected in the second funding group in FY 2012 will receive additional funding this fiscal year to finish their projects. 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.
The Department of the Interior 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 focuses on improving water conservation and sustainability and helping water resource managers make sound decisions about water use. It identifies strategies to ensure that this and future generations will have sufficient supplies of clean water for drinking, economic activities, recreation and ecosystem health. The program also identifies adaptive measures to address climate change and its impact on future water demands.
Since its establishment in 2010, WaterSMART has provided more than $159 million in competitively-awarded funding to non-federal partners, including tribes, water districts, municipalities, and universities through WaterSMART Grants and the Title XVI Program. Through WaterSMART and other conservation programs funded over the last three years, a total of more than 616,000 acre-feet of water per year is estimated to have been saved.
To learn more about WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants, visit www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/weeg.