Reclamation, Partners will Study Water Supplies in Five Western River Basins

Arkansas River Basin, Carson River Basin, San Diego Watershed, West Salt River Valley Basin and Willamette River Basin Selected

Media Contact: Peter Soeth, 303-445-3615

For Release: May 23, 2013

WASHINGTON - Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor announced $2.1 million will be made available under the WaterSMART Basin Study program to enable Reclamation to partner with local entities to conduct comprehensive studies of river basins in Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada and Oregon.

"Western communities are extremely dependent upon the river basins in which they reside," Commissioner Connor said. "These basin studies are critical to assess the long-term supply and demand for water and to develop collaborative solutions that will sustain communities and support healthy rivers long into the future."

The San Diego Basin in California and West Salt River Valley Basin in Arizona were selected for Basin Studies. Basin Studies are comprehensive water studies that define options for meeting future water demands in river basins in the western United States where imbalances in water supply and demand exist or are projected to exist.

The Carson River Basin in California and Nevada, Willamette River Basin in Oregon and Arkansas River Basin in Colorado and Kansas were chosen for plans of study. A plan of study helps a cost-share partner—such as a local water district--define the outcomes and set the scope and focus for a potential future Basin Study. Reclamation and the cost-share partners in each case will develop the plans of study jointly.

The projects are:

Carson River Basin Plan of Study, Carson River Subsconservancy District
Non-Federal Funding: $75,000; Federal Funding: $75,000

The Carson River Basin encompasses approximately 3,965 square miles, spanning west-central Nevada and eastern California. The Carson River originates in the Sierra Nevada range and terminates at the Carson Sink in Nevada. The basin provides water for 57,000 acres of irrigated agriculture, 160,000 people and a strategic buffer zone for the Fallon Naval Air Station. It includes the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, habitat for two species of fish listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Carson River is over-appropriated and also has a highly variable hydrologic cycle that leads to frequent floods and droughts. The Carson River Subconservancy District, a bi-state consortium of city and county governments, will work with Reclamation to develop a comprehensive plan of study. The proposed Basin Study will assess water supply and demand imbalances and evaluate water management actions under a range of potential future uncertainties.

San Diego Watershed Basin Study, San Diego Public Utilities Department
Non-Federal Funding: $1,082,244 Federal Funding: $1,025,000

San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United States and the second largest city in California. San Diego currently imports up to 90 percent of its water supplies from the Colorado River and northern California. The proposed study area is the San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management region, which includes the San Diego watershed. The San Diego watershed covers an area of 217 square miles and is home to 1.8 million people. The proposed Basin Study will provide a quantitative analysis of the uncertainties associated with the impacts of climate change on water supplies and demands and focus on adaptation strategies that optimize reservoir systems within the study area to advance indirect potable reuse.

Arkansas River Basin Plan of Study, Southwest Kansas Groundwater Management District 3
Non-Federal Funding: $150,000 Federal Funding: $100,000

The Arkansas River provides irrigation for more than 270,000 acres in eastern Colorado and western Kansas. Poor water quality in the river near the border of Colorado and Kansas poses challenges for municipal and agricultural water users including reduced crop yields, high saline soil, surface water shortages and increased groundwater pumping from the Ogallala Aquifer. The proposed Arkansas River Basin Study Plan of Study will identify potential study partners and stakeholders to participate in a future Basin Study. It also will identify the basin study team and climate team and allow them to work with local entities to develop an interstate water plan that addresses current and future water quality and quantity issues to ensure that the local health and economy remain viable.

Willamette River Basin Plan of Study, Oregon Water Resources Department
Non-Federal Funding: $50,000 Federal Funding: $50,000

The Willamette River Basin supports approximately 75 percent of Oregon's population and is the fastest growing area in the state. More than 170 varieties of agricultural crops are grown and sold in the basin, which produces more than 40 percent of the state's gross farm sales. The basin is rich in native fish and provides critical habitat for several endangered species. Recreation opportunities are abundant, and the basin is one of the most visited destinations for recreational boaters in the state. The proposed Willamette River Basin Study will update a previous assessment of basin water demands completed in 2008 and expand it to include an assessment of future demands as a result of climate change. It will compile in-stream demands quantified through previous studies, aid the implementation of Oregon's Integrated Water Resources Strategy adopted in 2013 and help evaluate adaptation strategies for securing water in the future.

West Salt River Valley Basin Study, West Valley Central Arizona Project Subcontractors
Non-Federal Funding: $860,000 Federal Funding: $840,000

The West Salt River Valley Basin is located in Maricopa County, Ariz., and includes the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. It is one of the fastest growing counties in the United States. The proposed study will include the development of a clear understanding of regional water supply and demand taking into account climate change and population growth projections. Additionally the study will include the development of strategies to address current and future imbalances in water supply and demand. The basin study will be a collaboration between Reclamation, the West Valley Central Arizona Project subcontractors, the Central Arizona Project (operated by the Central Arizona Water Conservancy District) and the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

The Department of the Interior established WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow) in February 2010 to facilitate the work of Interior's bureaus in pursuing a sustainable water supply for the nation. The program focuses on improving water conservation and sustainability and helping water resource managers make sound decisions about water use. It identifies strategies to ensure that this and future generations will have sufficient supplies of clean water for drinking, economic activities, recreation and ecosystem health. The program also identifies adaptive measures to address climate change and its impact on future water demands.

Since its establishment in 2010, WaterSMART has provided more than $161 million in competitively-awarded funding to non-federal partners, including tribes, water districts, municipalities, and universities through WaterSMART Grants and the Title XVI Program. Through WaterSMART and other conservation programs funded over the last three years, a total of more than 616,000 acre-feet of water per year is estimated to have been saved.

The non-federal partners in a basin study must contribute at least 50 percent of the total study cost in non-federal funding or in-kind services. Basin studies are not financial assistance and Reclamation's share of the study costs may be used only to support work done by Reclamation or its contractors. Non-federal partners include state and city agencies, municipal water districts and flood control districts.

For specific information on the WaterSMART Basin Studies, please visit For information on the WaterSMART Program, please visit

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