Bureau of Reclamation to Fund Nearly $20 Million in Water Projects

Speaking at the Western Governors’ Association annual meeting on June 9, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewellannounced that the Bureau of Reclamation would be providing $19.6 million in federal funding for water and energy efficiency grants as well as for three river basin studies. $17.8 million in funding, under the Department’sWaterSMART Program, can be used for projects that “conserve or 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.” Three river basins, the Upper Red River Basin in Oklahoma, the Upper Deschutes Basin in Oregon and the Missouri River Headwaters Basin in Montana, will receive $1.8 million for comprehensive river basin studies. The studies assess future supply and demand of the river system; analyze how existing water and power operations will perform under changing water realities; develop adaptation and mitigation strategies for improved operations and infrastructure; and outline a quantitative or qualitative trade-off analysis of the strategies, findings and conclusions.

“Through these WaterSMART programs, Reclamation is working to reduce conflict in the effective management of the West's water and power resources,” Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor said. “The water and energy efficiency projects are expected to conserve more than 67,000 acre-feet of water annually and 22.9 million kilowatt-hours of electricity – enough water for more than 250,000 people and enough electricity for more than 2,000 households.”

In mid-May, the Administration announced WaterSMART grants to nine water reclamation and reuse projects in California to support water conservation efforts during the state’s historic drought. In addition, partnering with the Natural Resources Conservation Service $6.3 million in Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency grants wereprovided to California farmers. The joint initiative supports improvements that facilitate on-farm water use efficiency and conservation projects within water districts.