Bureau of Reclamation announces funding for water projects

By on May 21, 2015
Federal Funding for California Drought

Yesterday the Bureau of Reclamation announced funding for more than 50 different water infrastructure projects in 12 western states under its WaterSMART initiative. The WaterSMART initiative was started in 2010, and has provided about $250 million to different agencies for sustainable water projects. Of the projects selected to receive funding, 15 are in drought-stricken California. The recent drought in California has highlighted the need for water infrastructure upgrades.

“In a time of exceptional drought, it is absolutely critical that states and the federal government leverage our funding resources so that we can make each drop count,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “Being ‘water smart’ means working together to fund sustainable water initiatives that use the best available science to improve water conservation and help water resource managers identify strategies to narrow the gap between supply and demand.”

Through WaterSMART funding, conservation efforts have saved enough water to serve about 3.8 million people. WaterSMART water and energy efficiency grants can be used for projects that conserve and use water more efficiently, increase the use of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, benefit endangered and threatened species, facilitate water markets, carry out activities to address climate-related impacts on water or prevent any water-related crisis or conflict.

The grant monies can go toward projects the utilize water in a more effect way, utilize renewable energy resources and increase efficiency. The funds can also be used for other purposes, such as addressing environmental concerns or preventing water-related conflicts. All of this will be key to conserving water during the drought in California.

“Through the WaterSMART Program, Reclamation is providing funding for water conservation improvements and water reuse projects across the West,” Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López said. “We commend the state of California for all the steps they have already taken to alleviate the impacts of the drought. We hope this federal funding for water reuse and efficiency will help us leverage scarce resources between the state and federal governments to bring much-needed relief for the people and environment of California.”

Projects that will help address the drought in California include:

  • Infrastructure improvements to better monitor the use of water. In some cases, there is a very limited, or non-existent, water measurement system. In other cases, high-tech meters will be installed to target high-use areas.
  • Funding was also approved for various rebate programs, some of which include changes to existing landscapes that cut water use, rebates for the removal of turf, upgrades to irrigation controllers and modifications to irrigation delivery systems.
  • Upgrades to existing infrastructure were also awarded funding. Projects include replacement of pumps and motors, lining canals to reduce water loses and water basin improvements.
  • New water infrastructure projects also received funding, including water retention basins, pipeline construction and potable water production facilities.

In total, the Bureau of Reclamation awarded $24 million to water efficiency projects, $2 million to conduct studies in California and Texas and another $23 million for water reclamation and reuse projects in California.

Recipients of the WaterSMART grants were ecstatic to hear the news of the funding. In many cases, these are projects that have already broken ground with funding from other sources. As the drought in California and other western states drags on, the water savings that projects like these bring will be crucial in order to provide a reliable water supply.