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U.S. Dept. of Interior awards water-management grants in western states

May 28, 2013
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Whitewater rapids
Any entity receiving funding from the U.S. Dept. of Interior WaterSmart program must provide at least 50% matching funding. (Credit: Ingram Publishing, Thinkstock)

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor say 44 projects in 11 states will receive $20.8 million in WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants.

"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 saiys. "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."

The Reclamation bureau 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.

Any entity receiving funding must provide at least a 50% match to the Reclamation funding. 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, Nev. 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 in-stream uses and will contribute to existing water banks in California, Arizona and southern Nevada.

The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. 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.

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.

Since its establishment, 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.

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