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Mid-Pacific Region
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Released On: May 05, 2005

Interior Secretary Gale Norton Approves Water 2025 Challenge Grants for Water Conservation Projects
Interior Secretary Gale Norton has approved $9.9 million in Water 2025 Challenge Grants for water conservation projects across the West. The grants will help to fund 43 projects in 13 states. Including the matching contributions of non-Federal partners, the selected projects represent a combined investment of more than $27 million in water improvements.

"Western states are facing some hard realities," Norton said. "Explosive population growth, chronic water shortages -- particularly during this time of drought -- environmental needs, over-allocated watersheds, and aging water facilities -- all combine to create opportunities for crisis and conflict."

"Crisis management is not effective in dealing with water conflicts," Norton continued. "These competitive grants support realistic and cooperative local approaches to stretch existing supplies and improve aging facilities and help prevent conflict over our limited water resources in the West."

These grants from the Bureau of Reclamation will fund a variety of projects that will make more efficient use of existing water supplies through water conservation, efficiency and water market projects. The Water 2025 Challenge Grants Program focuses on meeting the goals identified in Water 2025: Preventing Crises and Conflict in the West.

Water 2025 encourages voluntary water banks and other market-based measures as authorized under state law, promotes the use of new technology for water conservation and efficiency, and removes institutional barriers to increase cooperation and collaboration among federal, state, tribal and private organizations.

In California, for example, the Tulare Irrigation District will expand its Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system to monitor operations remotely at existing regulating reservoir facilities, upgrade its water accounting capabilities, and modernize infrastructure at critical points to minimize canal spills.

The projects are estimated to save 150,000 acre-feet of water per year and better manage up to 25,000 acre-feet of water per year. An acre-foot of water is enough for a family of four for a year.

The program is focused on achieving the goals identified in Secretary Norton's Water 2025 initiative to avoid crises and conflict in the West, particularly the development and use of water markets, structural modifications that will conserve water and improve water management, and other approaches. Among these measures are the use of analytical tools that will help states better administer or more efficiently manage water rights, comply with interstate compacts, or otherwise stretch scarce water supplies.

The Challenge Grant Program for Western States is similar to the Water 2025 Challenge Grant Program. However, in the new program announced today, eligible applicants are limited to state government water management agencies and authorities in the western United States, as identified in the Reclamation Act of June 17, 1902, as amended and supplemented. The regular Water 2025 Challenge Grant Program, which is open to local government, municipal and private irrigation districts and water associations as well as tribal water authorities, will continue as established.

The agencies and groups that proposed the 43 selected projects will now work with Reclamation to secure a cooperative agreement and complete regulatory processes. Groundbreaking on the projects is anticipated before the end of the fiscal year, and they must be completed in 24 months.

The list of 7 California water districts that are receiving a total of $1.5 million in Water 2025 Challenge Grants includes:

Bard Water District, Winterhaven: The water district will pipe a half mile of unlined canals that serve Quechan Tribal and private lands, and will replace two existing checks on the main canal and install four high water alarms. The piping will reduce seepage losses, and the replacement of the checks and four high water alarms will increase water delivery efficiencies and service to water users while protecting against crop and home damage due to flooding. The project is expected to save 195 acre-feet of water per year. Total project cost is $602,288, including a Water 2025 contribution of $229,680.

Coachella Valley Water District: The water district's demonstration project will include quantifications of current and historic water use using GIS, detailed field monitoring, implementation of conservation practices on demonstration fields and quantification of water savings. The project is anticipated to save at least 1,000 acre-feet of water per year. The total project cost is $909,840, including a Water 2025 contribution of $300,000.

Contra Costa Water District: The water district will install 50 water meters on currently unmetered lots. By installing meters, water users will be billed for actual water use instead of at a flat rate. By paying for water that they actually use, they will be more inclined to use less water. In addition, leaks in the customer delivery lines will be located and repaired by the customer. Results of a previous pilot program have shown that metering these lines reduced water consumption by nearly two-thirds. It is estimated that the project can save 440 acre-feet of water annually. The total project cost is $281,010, including a Water 2025 contribution of $137,582.

Imperial Irrigation District: The district will install automatic gates to be operated remotely at the heads of 10 lateral canals. The project also will include linking the automatic gates into an existing Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system. The project is estimated to save 912 acre-feet of water per year. The total project cost is $857,548, including a Water 2025 contribution of $300,000.

Soquel Creek Water District: The water district will purchase and install 325 weather-based irrigation controllers for residential, commercial, and institutional landscapes. The district is solely dependent on groundwater and relies on an overdrafted groundwater basin. The project is estimated to save 112 acre-feet of water per year. The total project cost is $218,790, including a Water 2025 contribution of $109,395.

Stockton East Water District: The water district will develop a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system that will be used to monitor 12 sites in key locations in the water distribution system. The project will also provide for off-site water gate control at three locations in the distribution system. The availability of real time data will increase the efficiency of the district's agricultural water delivery system. The project is estimated to save 3,600 acre-feet of water per year. The total project cost is $335,236, including a Water 2025 contribution of $150,255.

Tulare Irrigation District: The district will expand its Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system to monitor operations remotely at existing regulating reservoir facilities, upgrade its water accounting capabilities, and modernize infrastructure at critical points to minimize canal spills. The projects are estimated to save 150,000 acre-feet of water per year and better manage up to 25,000 acre-feet of water per year. The project will cost $765,300, including a Water 2025 contribution of $300,000.

In addition to California, states receiving Water 2025 Challenge Grant awards included Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

More information on the Water 2025 initiative is at www.doi.gov/water2025.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at www.usbr.gov.