Reclamation funds 27 watershed groups with $2.6 million to address water quality and quantity

By on July 17, 2018
California Drought Water Reclamation Program

Reclamation has announced that 27 watershed groups, including three in California, will be sharing $2.6 million to establish or further develop water groups to address water quantity or quality through Cooperative Watershed Management Program (CWMP) Grants. These groups will be able to use the funds to develop bylaws, a mission statement, complete stakeholder outreach, develop a watershed restoration plan and/or to conduct watershed management project design.

“Reducing conflict over water is an important goal,” Commissioner Burman said. “Working collaboratively with locally-led groups is the best path forward to reduce conflict and develop solutions that will lead to the long-term viability of watersheds.”

The CWMP contributes to the WaterSMART strategy by helping to fund watershed groups to encourage diverse stakeholders to form local solutions to address their water management needs. The CWMP funds Watershed Group Development and Watershed Restoration Planning programs as well as the Implementation of Watershed Management Projects. For Phase 1 projects, Reclamation awards successful applicants up to $50,000 per year for a period of up to two years with no non-Federal cost-share required.

Reclamation began providing funding for watershed group development, watershed restoration planning, and Phase 1 watershed management project design in 2012. Watershed groups are consensus-based, self-sustaining, non-regulatory groups composed of a diverse array of stakeholders, which may include but are not limited to private property owners, non-profit organizations, and tribes as well as federal, state, or local agencies.

In 2017, Reclamation began to provide Phase 2 funding for the Implementation of Watershed Management Projects. This cost-sharing financial assistance allows watershed groups to implement watershed management projects. Collaboratively developed by members of a watershed group, these on-the-ground projects, address critical water supply needs and water quality concerns and also help water users meet competing demands and avoid conflicts over water. Phase 2 applicants must contribute at least 50% of the total project costs while Reclamation can award up to $100,000 per project over a two-year period.

The recipient watershed management programs in California include:

New Watershed Groups

Sierra Institute for Community and Environment, South Lassen Watersheds Group Collaborative Development Project

Reclamation Funding: $99,669                 Total Project Cost: $124,669

The Sierra Institute will develop the South Lassen Watershed Group, which will work within the Upper North Fork of the Feather River, Upper Mill Creek, and Upper Deer Creek watersheds, a critical headwaters region for the California State Water Project. The group will develop a diverse membership, gather baseline water quality and quality data and also develop a watershed restoration plan. It will focus on water quality and quantity concerns, forest health, reduction in catastrophic wildfires and building cooperative partnerships across the watershed. Planning efforts will focus on upstream land management to protect the watersheds. Development of the plan will include mapping, technical analysis and the creation of fire models.

Sonoma Resource Conservation District, Petaluma River Watershed Consortium

Reclamation Funding: $100,000               Total Project Cost: $100,000

Located in Santa Rosa, the Sonoma Resource Conservation District will establish a collaborative watershed group consortium for the Petaluma River Watershed. The Petaluma River Watershed Consortium will coalesce state agencies, local municipalities, recreation managers, recreational user groups, agricultural groups, domestic water supply entities, and land developers to collaboratively create a mission statemen and vision as well as to develop goals to address natural resource issues through a watershed enhancement plan. This plan will determine priority projects to address land development, saltwater intrusion, water quality concerns and water quantity.

Existing Watershed Groups

Alpine Watershed Group, Upper Carson River Watershed Planning and Partnership Development

Reclamation Funding: $100,000               Total Project Cost: $170,000

Over the past 150 years the watershed has experienced degradation due to extensive grazing, mining, road building and timber harvesting. More recent stressors include invasive species, recreation and urban development. The Alpine Watershed Group will conduct community outreach and partnership development, information gathering and data collection. Their work will also include restoration planning focused on the Upper Carson River Watershed at the headwaters of the Carson River in Alpine County. The group is comprised of conservation groups, local businesses, local landowners, ranchers, recreation groups, and federal, state, and local agencies, all of whom work closely with the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. The group will complete stakeholder outreach and partnership building and gather data to inform a comprehensive watershed plan for the Upper Carson Watershed. This will lay the groundwork for determining priority restoration projects.

For more information on the other states’ groups receiving funding from Reclamation for watershed management programs, go to:  https://www.usbr.gov/watersmart/cwmp/docs/2018/2018CWMPProjectSelections.pdf.