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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.

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 supports the following types of grants awarded by the Region in 2012: Water and Energy Efficiency Grants, Cooperative Watershed Management Program Grants, and Title XVI Program Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects. (Title XVI is also known as the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act of 1992.)

Grant Awards

In FY 2012, the Region awarded 10 water conservation and efficiency grants through WaterSMART and other programs that totaled $6.5 million. Including local cost-share contributions, more than $20.5 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 292,000 acre-feet annually. The awards include four CALFED Water Use Efficiency Grants, five WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants, and one Cooperative Watershed Management Program Grant.

Grant recipients were diverse, ranging from large water agencies to nonprofit entities, to agricultural districts, to non-federal contractors. Geographically, recipients spanned the Region. Examples of projects awarded grants in 2012 include: groundwater basin recharge projects, a residential water meter installation, a residential irrigation retrofit program, canal lining, canal automation and irrigation efficiency improvements on farms.

The Region also administratively completed and closed-out grants for 11 projects that are allowing conservation or better management of a combined 153,000 acre-feet water per year.

The following are examples of these completed projects:

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 2012, the Region reviewed and approved six 5-year water conservation plans. In addition, the Region is working closely with the California Department of Water Resources and Reclamation contractors to ensure contractor compliance with new state water conservation mandates and planning requirements.

Water Reuse

Under the WaterSMART program, the Region both awarded new Title XVI Program agreements and modified existing agreements, providing a total of more than $10.6 million. In 2012, the Region entered into four new financial assistance agreements to provide $343,000 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 three existing agreements to provide about $10.3 million for the construction of three reuse/reclamation projects. The sponsors will provide at least 75 percent of construction costs.

The Region’s 2012 projects include locations in the California counties of, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Sacramento, Santa Clara and Sonoma. The agreements were authorized under 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.

The following are examples of the feasibility studies:

The following are examples of the construction projects:

interactive image:  photo - Workers install pipeline as part of the North Bay Water Reuse Program; click for larger photointeractive image:  photo - A vertical turbine pump is installed at a water reuse project near Novato, Calif.; click for larger photo
interactive image:  photo - Crews put finishing touches on pipe installation at a water reuse project near Novato, Calif.; click for larger photo

Top left: Workers install pipeline as part of the North Bay Water Reuse Program.
Top right: A vertical turbine pump is installed at a water reuse project near Novato, Calif.
Bottom left: Crews put finishing touches on pipe installation at a water reuse project near Novato, Calif.

February 22, 2013