Reclamation, Municipal Agencies launch Yuma Desalting Plant Pilot Run, celebrate Drop 2 Storage Reservoir Project

Collaborative efforts will improve management, conservation of Colorado River water

Media Contact: Doug Hendrix, 928-343-8145

For Release: April 28, 2010

YUMA, AZ- With the Colorado River still struggling with record drought, U.S. Department of the Interior officials today joined representatives from three municipal water agencies from California, Nevada, and Arizona to launch a one-year pilot run of the Bureau of Reclamation's Yuma Desalting Plant. The ceremony also celebrated the construction of the Drop 2 Storage Reservoir Project about 30 miles west of Yuma, which is about 97 percent complete.

"Drought, population growth, and the impacts of climate change on water in the Southwest have increased the stress on the Colorado River," said Anne Castle, Assistant Interior Secretary for Water and Science. "These collaborative undertakings with The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Central Arizona Water Conservation District, and Southern Nevada Water Authority exemplify the types of partnerships needed to stretch available supplies to meet both current and future water needs." Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) General Manager Patricia Mulroy echoed Castle's comments. "As the Southwest continues to grapple with water resource challenges, these two projects represent paths to increased certainty and reliability of supply," said Mulroy. "Beyond their benefits to Nevada as a participant, these projects are good for the Colorado River system as a whole and demonstrate the power of cooperation among individual agencies, states and the federal government."

Desalting Plant Pilot Run The Yuma Desalting Plant (YDP) pilot run is scheduled to begin May 3. The purpose of the pilot run is to operate the plant at one-third capacity for a period of one year to gather critical information about its capability to be used in the future to reliably produce water that could be used for a multitude of purposes.

Under the partnership, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD), and SNWA are funding nearly $14 million of the pilot run's estimated $23.2 million cost. In return, each agency will receive credit in Lake Mead through a water conservation mechanism known as "Intentionally Created Surplus" (ICS). The amount of storage credits each agency receives will be proportionate to its funding contribution.

In total, about 21,700 acre-feet of desalted water will be produced during the pilot run. This water will be combined with 7,300 acre-feet of untreated irrigation drainage water and the total amount - 29,000 acre-feet - will be discharged into the Colorado River and included in Treaty deliveries to Mexico. The pilot run will allow retention of about 30,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Mead that otherwise would have been released as part of required deliveries to Mexico.

"As the Colorado River Basin drought continues, these projects will be critical in conserving supplies for future use, while helping urban Southern California effectively manage its Colorado River deliveries," said Angel Santiago, a vice chairman of board of directors of the MWD. "The partnership that has developed among SNWA, CAWCD, and MWD, along with support from Reclamation to fund projects like these, will also be key in meeting the region's long-term water needs."

Drop 2 Storage Reservoir Project

The Drop 2 Storage Reservoir Storage Project, located just north of the All-American Canal in southern California about 30 miles west of Yuma, will store Colorado River water that has been released from Parker Dam. The reservoir - which stands at about 97 percent complete - will allow capture of water supplies that have been released from Lake Mead but are no longer needed because of changed weather conditions, high runoff into the river, or other factors. An average of about 70,000 acre-feet of this formerly non-storable water will be conserved each year by the Drop 2 Storage Project for use in the United States, resulting in a similar reduction in necessary water releases from Lake Mead. "By dedicating ourselves to using water in the most efficient ways possible, we can help ensure that we have water supplies for future generations, and that we're fostering a conservation ethic that will make our communities both more resilient and sustainable," said Susan Bitter-Smith, President of the Board of Directors of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District.

Like the YDP, the $172 million Drop 2 project is being constructed by Reclamation with funding provided by SNWA, CAWCD, and MWD. In return, these entities will share 600,000 acre-feet of ICS water credits in Lake Mead. SNWA will receive 400,000 acre-feet of ICS water, at a maximum of 40,000 acre-feet a year, until 2036, and CAWCD and MWD will each receive 100,000 acre-feet of ICS water, at maximum of 65,000 acre-feet a year, from 2016 through 2036. After 2036, all water conserved by the Drop 2 project will become system water and available to any lower Colorado River water contractors.

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