Reclamation invests nearly $2 million in CA Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency Grants

By on August 21, 2018
California Drought Grants

Three California water agencies were recently notified that they had been selected to share in nearly $2 million in Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency (AWCE) grants for Fiscal Year 2018. The Bureau of Reclamation announced that with local cost-share contributions, approximately $4 million in water management improvement projects will be implemented during the next two years.

A joint program with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency grants target district level water conservation improvements focused on facilitating on-farm water use efficiency and conservation projects. The district-level projects at Eastern Municipal Water District (Perris), Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District (Wasco) and Solano Irrigation District (Vacaville) will increase district-level efficiencies and facilitate farm water conservation and water use efficiency.

Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) is slated to receive $210,000 in AWCE grant funding for their Agricultural Water Data Project (AWDP). This online data management tool and technical assistance project will support new technology to assist local agriculture producers in becoming more efficient and provide them with a better understanding of their water use needs. It will include real-time online tracking of water use, create weather-based water budgets for local farms, and the replacement of irrigation infrastructure for more water-efficient devices. The total project cost is anticipated to be $455,112.

EMWD has worked with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the past year studying what irrigation equipment is used by local farmers and providing recommendations on what changes can be made to allow these operations to become more efficient. Currently, there are more than 10,00 acres of actively farmed agricultural operation in EMWD’s footprint including a variety of nuts, fruits and fodder crops.

“Our area has a rich agricultural history, and we want to ensure that we continue working with our local agricultural community and offering them a variety of resources,” EMWD President David Slawson said. “By incorporating technology and updated irrigation equipment, our agriculture customers will be able to further increase their water use efficiency for many years to come.

Slawson summed his comments saying, “EMWD appreciates the ongoing support of the Bureau of Reclamation and we are appreciative of the longstanding partnership between our two agencies.”

EMWD is among the national leaders in recycled water use and continually uses 100 percent of its recycled water supplies each year. A vast majority of local EMWD area farmers use recycled water for irrigation.

The Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District’s Diltz Intertie Lateral Piping and Water Management Improvements Project will reduce groundwater pumping by district farmers by replacing an estimated 1.38 miles of five laterals off the Diltz mainline to enable pressurized flow in both directions. The project will also implement on-farm water management improvements, including installing nine evapotranspiration weather stations, collaborate with neighboring districts on energy and well operations and fund distribution uniformity evaluations. District farmers will be further incentivized with irrigation conservation by installing soil moisture probes and other on-farm water conserving implementation methods.

The $670, 578 in AWCE grant funding will help toward the total project cost of $1,341,157 and will conserve 1,718 acre-feet of water over the 50-year life of the project. Farmers on approximately 6,500 acres of district land will be able to convert existing irrigation equipment to water-efficient equipment with the potential to further save an additional 2,500 acre-feet of water.

The Solano Irrigation District will receive the largest of the three current AWCE grants. An AWCE grant of $1,000,000 will aid in funding the $2,108,000 Weyland Canal Automation and Remote Control Project. The project is slated to install automated control structures and a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition control system along a 2.2-mile section of Weyland Canal. This project will further implement a Total Channel Control program to allow farmers more flexibility for ordering water and reduce operational spills. This project will conserve 960 acre-feet and better manage 31,000 acre-feet of Bay-Delta water over the 25-year life of the project. Through automation of the Weyland Canal, the project will decrease spills from the system. And help improve delivery flexibility, helping to facilitate on-farm efficiency improvements to a potential 410 acres of farms within the canal service area.