WaterSMART and Other Programs
Water is our most precious natural resource and is increasingly stressed by the demands our society places on it. Adequate water supplies are an essential element in human survival, ecosystem health, energy production and economic sustainability. Significant climate change-related impacts on water supplies are well documented in scientific literature and scientists are forecasting changes in hydrologic cycles.
Congress recognized these issues with the passage of the SECURE Water Act, a law that authorizes federal water and science agencies to work together with state and local water managers to plan for climate change and the other threats to our water supplies, and take action to secure our water resources for the communities, economies, and the ecosystems they support.
To implement the SECURE Water Act, and ensure that the Department of the Interior is positioned to meet these challenges, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar established the WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow) program in 2010.
WaterSMART allows all bureaus of the Department to work with states, tribes, local governments, water agencies and non-governmental organizations to pursue a sustainable water supply for the nation by establishing a framework to provide federal assistance on the efficient use of water, integrating water and energy policies to support the sustainable use of all natural resources, and coordinating the water conservation activities of the various Department offices.
Shows work on the Temple San Rita Canal System
Shows work on the Bella Vista Water District recycle station
Reclamation plays a key role in the WaterSMART program as the Department’s main water management agency. Focused on improving water conservation and helping water and resource managers make wise decisions about water use, Reclamation’s portion of the WaterSMART program is achieved through administration of grants, scientific studies, technical assistance and scientific expertise.
WaterSMART provides funding, combined with grant recipient cost-share funds, that support the following types of grants awarded by the Region in 2011: Water and Energy Efficiency Grants, System Optimization Review Grants, Water Conservation Field Services Program Grants, and Title XVI Program Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects. Eligible grant recipients may be irrigation and water districts, tribes, states and other entities with water or power delivery authority.
More information: http://www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART
Grant Awards in the Mid-Pacific Region
In Fiscal Year 2011, the Region awarded 36 water conservation and efficiency grants through WaterSMART and other programs that totaled more than $13 million. Including local cost-share contributions, more than $205 million in water management improvement projects will be implemented in the next 24 months. The projects will result in conservation or better management of an estimated 236,500 acre-feet annually.
The following shows the grants awarded by the Region in 2011.
- 21 WaterSMART grants:
- Water and Energy Efficiency Grants, $5,029,096
- Bay-Delta Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency Projects, $4,145,826
- System Optimization Review Grants, $355,047
- 8 Water Conservation Field Services Program Grants, $535,480
- 7 CALFED Water Use Efficiency Grants, $2,996,047
Grant recipients were diverse, ranging from large water agencies to small municipalities, to non-federal contractors, to agricultural districts. Geographically, recipients spanned the Region. Examples of projects awarded grants in 2011 include: groundwater basin recharge projects, residential landscape retrofit programs, residential water meter replacement, turf rebate programs, canal lining, canal automations and irrigation efficiency improvements.
In addition to awarding new water conservation and efficiency grants, the Region administratively completed and closed out grants for 17 projects that are allowing conservation or better management of water.
The following are examples of these completed projects:
- The Henry Miller Reclamation District No. 2131 in Dos Palos, California, received a $240,668 WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency grant to modernize the Temple Santa Rita Canal system. The district retrofitted existing structures in the canal to achieve more precise water level control, reducing unnecessary spill. The project will conserve an estimated 8,900 acre-feet per year.
- Bella Vista Water District in Redding, California, received a WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency grant of $300,000 to improve its water treatment plant. The modifications allow the plant to capture and recycle backwash and filter-to-waste water that had previously been going to waste. In addition, the modifications reduce the district’s diversion from the Sacramento River by 540 acre-feet per year.
- The Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District (SWID) in Wasco, California, received a WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Program grant of $300,000 to construct an interconnection, conveying 50 cubic feet per second, between the district and the North Kern Water Storage District (NKWSD). When floodwater is available in certain areas on the east side of the San Joaquin Valley, the interconnection will provide a way to move water into SWID’s southerly distribution system for irrigation. The interconnection may also be used to return water stored underground in NKWSD’s facilities to SWID. The project will prevent delivery losses of up to 20 percent, or 3,000 acre-feet annually, compared to the previous delivery method.
Water Management Plans
The Central Valley Project Improvement Act requires certain contractors to prepare water management plans according to specific criteria and best management practices. In 2011, the Region reviewed and approved 26 five-year water conservation plans and 49 water management plan annual updates.
The Region also revised the criteria for evaluating water management plans in 2011 to meet current water conservation needs and to help federal water contractors meet new California water conservation mandates. The Region is working with the California Department of Water Resources to implement state legislation that mandates practices such as agricultural water measurement, quantification of agricultural water use efficiency, water management plans for agricultural and urban water purveyors, and urban demand management measures.
Workers lower pipe that is part of an interconnection between districts near Wasco, California
Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor speaks during a ceremony recognizing the North Bay Water Reuse Program
In 2011, the Region entered into 16 new financial assistance agreements to provide more than $5.5 million in federal cost-sharing funds for the planning of projects to reclaim and reuse wastewater, and/or naturally impaired ground and surface waters. The local sponsors will provide at least 50 percent of the funding.
The Region also modified two existing agreements to provide about $2.3 million for the construction of three reuse/reclamation projects. The sponsors will provide at least 75 percent of construction costs.
Of the more than $7.8 million total awarded by the Region in 2011, nearly $4 million came from the WaterSMART Program. The Region’s 2011 projects include locations in the California counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma. The agreements were authorized under the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act of 1992, also known as Title XVI. Projects are constructed and owned by non-federal sponsors, uniting local communities with the Federal government to provide change, growth and a future for clean water and environmental stewardship in a broad range of areas.
Primary goals are improved water-use efficiency, creation of additional water supplies, increased drought resistance of existing supplies and a reduction in the reliance on inter-basin water transfers. The reclaimed water may be used for a variety of purposes, including environmental restoration; fish and wildlife uses; groundwater recharge; and certain municipal, domestic, industrial, agricultural and power generation uses.
Reclamation’s role includes coordinating with non-federal project sponsors, providing advice on preparation of necessary reports and reviewing the reports and submittals to determine whether the project meets the criteria of the Title XVI Program.
Workers construct a facility that is part of the North Bay Water Reuse Program
The following are examples of the projects:
- The Sonoma County Water Agency in Sonoma, California, received a WaterSMART grant of $1.7 million to construct the Novato South Service Area Project, part of the first phase of the North Bay Water Reuse Program. The program will provide recycled water for a variety of purposes in Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties. The Novato South Project, which will provide 204 acre-feet annually, will include construction of a new treatment plant and nearly six miles of new pipeline to expand service to additional customers for landscape irrigation.
- The City of San Jose, California, received a WaterSMART grant of $2 million to construct the High-Tech Industrial Cooling and Landscape Irrigation Extension Project, part of the South Bay Water Recycling Program. The current water distribution system provides 10,000 acre-feet per year of recycled water to more than 600 customers in the Silicon Valley. The High-Tech Extension Project will provide multiple new customers 200-250 acre-feet per year, with the potential to serve an additional 200 acre-feet per year to additional users in the future.
- The Central Contra Costa Sanitary District in Martinez, California, received a $180,000 grant for the Contra Costa County Refinery Recycled Water Project to determine the feasibility of providing up to 22,500 acre-feet per year of recycled water to the Shell and Tesoro refineries in Martinez. Recycled water would be used to replace Delta water that is currently used for cooling towers and boiler feedwater at the refineries.
After California declared a drought emergency, $40 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds were set aside in 2009 for drought relief. Projects included increasing the flexibility of existing water supplies so more acres could be served by surface and groundwater supplies during periods of drought, increasing the use of groundwater supplies to supplement limited surface water supplies, and providing domestic and agricultural water to local tribes that suffer from substandard water supplies.
In addition, the Region worked with tribes in California and Nevada to provide wells for drinking and agricultural water. Seven tribes completed projects. The following are examples of the tribal wells projects:
- Reclamation provided a grant of about $400,000 to the Elk Valley Rancheria in Crescent City, California, to develop reliable sources of agricultural water on their ranching parcels. The seven wells are powered with solar technology.
- The Quartz Valley Indian Reservation completed four new wells, rehabilitated an existing well, and installed 12 monitoring wells. The tribe is located in the Scott and Quartz valleys of California, near Fort Jones. One of the wells is at the tribe’s summer camp location. Previously, water had to be trucked to the site and future use of the facility was in question because of wildfire danger. The tribe is now able to continue using the site.
Workers drill a well near Los Banos, California
Quartz Valley Indian Tribe’s Culture Camp
One of the new solar-powered wells constructed at the Elk Valley Rancheria in Crescent City, California