Two CA Water Agencies Receive Reclamation Funding to Develop Water Marketing Strategies

By on November 16, 2019
California Drought Water Reclamation Program

The Bureau of Reclamation has awarded funds to ten Western water agencies to assist with establishing or expanding water markets or water marketing activities. The awards total $2 million and when non-federal cost-share contributions are included, these funds will total more than $4.6 million in water marketing planning activities.

Of the ten awardees two are California entities. The other eight awardees are located in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Oregon, and Utah. The Kaweah Sub-basin Water Marketing Strategy/Tulare Irrigation District will receive $400,000 from Reclamation and will invest $432,000 in non-federal funding for their project. The Mojave Water Agency Long-Term Water Management/Water Banking Program will combine Reclamation funding of $200,000 with $400,000 in non-federal funding for their program.

The Tulare Irrigation District (TID) in the San Joaquin Valley plans to develop a water marketing strategy to address an estimated 77,600 acre-feet per year overdraft in the Kaweah Groundwater Sub-basin (KGS). Coordinating with three Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, the project will provide groundwater resource flexibility for individual water users within the Kaweah Sub-basin by allowing for the redistribution of groundwater in order to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. TID receives water from the Friant-Kern Canal as part of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project. As part of the KGS plan, water users with excess groundwater will be able to trade their water with other water users who may be short on groundwater supplies to meet agricultural, municipal, and industrial demands.

Located in San Bernardino County, the Mojave Water Agency (MWA) will engage with other State Water Project (SWA) contractors to complete a strategy to store SWP water within the Mojave region to facilitate conjunctive use, transfers and exchanges of water on a regional scale. Building on previous efforts to develop a strategy for a large-scale groundwater banking program between multiple agencies to support water supply reliability in the region, the water marketing strategy will analyze any potential financial constraints, policy issues, and other environmental factors to ensure the water marketing program is successful upon implementation. The project’s benefits are multiple including: enhanced local water security, increased available storage of wet-year supplies otherwise lost to the ocean, stabilizing groundwater levels, and making water available for transfer within the region during times of shortage and/or drought.

“It is always a good day when Reclamation can combine funding and resources with those of local water partners to achieve a common goal,” said Avra Morgan, Program Coordinator for Water Marketing. “Water marketing strategies empower communities by helping water managers meet demands efficiently in times of shortage, which ultimately helps prevent water conflicts.”

Water marketing includes water rights transactions and includes the lease, sale or exchange of water rights undertaken in accordance with state and federal laws between willing buyers and sellers. As an example, canals are an integral part of many water marketing strategies. Water markets support the President’s memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West.

The Bureau of Reclamation works cooperatively with States, Tribes, and local entities as they plan for and implement actions to increase water supply through investments to modernize existing infrastructure and attention to local water conflicts as part of the WaterSMART program.