Reclamation Awards Texas Irrigators $300,000

Media Contact: Mike Irlbeck, (512) 899-4157
Mark Andersen, (406) 247-7610

For Release: October 13, 2004

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner John Keys has recognized the award of a $300,000 Water 2025 Challenge Grant to the Harlingen Irrigation District in Harlingen, Tex. This grant, along with $302,500 provided by the district, will provide a total of $602,500 for long-term improvements to the district's water conveyance system that will save an estimated 3,400 acre-feet of water annually.

"The Harlingen Irrigation District is to be commended for its initiative in developing water saving technologies in Cameron County," said Keys. "Through these challenge grants, we are providing seed money for local, collaborative projects that increase the efficient use of our existing water supplies."

The Water 2025 Challenge Grant will help fund a project to purchase and install about 225 on-farm delivery-site water meters within the district. Once in place, these meters are expected to generate data useful in monitoring water usage and flows, as well as for pricing water to irrigators. This improved management of information will facilitate more efficient water delivery within the district's delivery system and enhance on-farm irrigation practices.

District Manager Wayne Halbert said water savings will be realized through a reduction in agricultural use and in improved efficiency of district conveyance facilities.

"This will allow us to save diverted water for emergency purposes such as drought," he said, "increasing the length of the irrigation season, or simply lessening the amount of water diverted from the Rio Grande."

He added that the measurement system will be integrated with other ongoing projects the district currently has under construction.

The Water 2025 Challenge Grants, administered by the Bureau of Reclamation, provide local irrigation districts throughout the West with matching funds to support a variety of projects to make more efficient use of existing water supplies through water conservation, efficiency and water market projects. The Challenge Grant program focuses on meeting the goals identified in Water 2025: Preventing Crises and Conflict in the West. In late June, Interior Secretary Gale Norton approved more than $4 million dollars in water conservation grants under the Water 2025 Challenge Grant Program. President George Bush has requested $21 million for the Water 2025 initiative in Fiscal Year 2005.

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