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.)
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:
- The United Water Conservation District in Santa Paula, Calif., received a $76,698 WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency grant for the Saticoy Moss Screen Pipeline Delivery Gate Automation Project. The project involved automation and modernization of the UWCD’s Moss Screen facility. Automating the gates at the facility resulted in several benefits including improved employee safety and ease of operation, increased delivery flexibility, and water level control. UWCD estimates that the project will conserve about 3,700 acre-feet per year.
- South San Joaquin Irrigation District in Manteca, Calif., received a $995,000 WaterSMART Bay-Delta Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency Project Grant. With this funding, SSJID built a state-of-the-art, pressurized irrigation system to irrigate about 3,800 acres. The project incorporated automated water delivery controls and updated metering technology, allowing for precise measurement and accounting of water use. The project resulted in energy conservation, reduced air emissions and improved water quality, and is estimated to conserve about 3,498 acre-feet of water per year. In addition to the district level pressurized pipe, fields that were flood-irrigated were converted to sprinkler or micro-drip irrigation systems that resulted in significantly less on-farm water use and higher yields.
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.
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 Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency is investigating the feasibility for the development of a Groundwater Replenishment Project that would produce 6,000 acre-feet per year of potable water from the reclamation and reuse of their municipal wastewater and recycling of return agricultural flows from Monterey County. A new Advanced Water Treatment Plant would recycle municipal wastewater and dilution/make-up water streams sufficient for indirect potable reuse.
- The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District will evaluate the feasibility of replacing up to 97,000 acre-feet per year of surface and groundwater supplies with recycled water to irrigate up to 27,000 acres of permanent agriculture, habitat mitigation, and conservation lands in south Sacramento County.
The following are examples of the construction projects:
- The Sonoma County Water Agency, as lead agency of the North Bay Water Reuse Authority, in Sonoma, Calif., received a WaterSMART grant of about $3.8 million to continue design and construction of the North Bay Water Reuse Program. In 2012, NBWRA member agencies installed about 3.4 miles of recycled water distribution pipeline and upgraded a wastewater treatment plant’s capability from secondary to tertiary treatment (the upgraded treatment plant went online in September 2012). Additional work included conducting a financial analysis for additional distribution pipeline in a groundwater deficient area and acquiring easements necessary for a recycled water distribution pipeline to supply recycled water to bittern ponds as part of a restoration effort. Design and construction activities will continue throughout 2013.
- San Jose, Calif., received a WaterSMART grant of about $2.4 million to continue design and construction of the South Bay Water Recycling Program, a joint effort between the city, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, and other local water agencies.
- Watsonville, Calif., was awarded $4,000,000 for its joint project with the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency’s Watsonville Area Water Recycling Project. The project reduces over-drafting of groundwater resources and subsequent seawater intrusion. It recycles 4,000 acre-feet per year of effluent from the city’s wastewater treatment plant and blends it with higher quality water to reduce salinity. The Title XVI project is comprised of expanded facilities at the city’s wastewater treatment plant, a blending facility, and a distribution system for transporting the blended recycled water to agricultural users.
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