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Lower Colorado Region
Boulder City, Nev.
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Released On: October 12, 2005

CVWD Receives $300,000 Water 2025 Challenge Grant Award
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner John Keys will visit Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) on Friday, Oct. 14, to give official federal government recognition-and a check for $300,000-to assist the district with its comprehensive efforts to help area growers reduce their demand for agricultural irrigation water.

"The Coachella Valley Water District is to be commended for its initiative in developing and promoting water saving technologies in the region," 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 grant will fund about a third of a district program designed to conserve water while the water saved through specific agricultural practices. Replacing more traditional surface furrow irrigation with drip irrigation, for example, is consistently accepted by the agricultural industry as a more water-efficient method of irrigation. This practice is among those CVWD will test to unequivocally quantify the actuality and extent of those savings.

As part of its Coachella Valley Water Management Plan, the district is working to assist area growers in reducing their demand for water by seven percent. CVWD also is working toward reducing existing golf course demand by five percent and domestic demand by 10 percent, all within the next decade. Net savings from such conservation helps ensure adequate, reliable supplies for all consumers in the valley for 35 years and beyond.

"The district is very proud of our area farmers, the programs we have sponsored and the way growers have taken full advantage of them to conserve water and boost their crop production," said CVWD General Manager-Chief Engineer Steve Robbins. "This grant validates our efforts and is a significant boost in our continued efforts to help local farmers continue to be the most water-efficient irrigators anywhere."

In addition to Reclamation funding, growers and irrigation suppliers have committed to contribute $200,000 worth of goods and services, with the district's current budget including nearly $410,000 for the program.

From June 2003 through June 2005, existing agricultural irrigation water conservation programs have saved more than 42,500 acre-feet of water. These have focused on providing growers with classroom instruction and in-field assistance in learning and applying scientifically proven methods for improving irrigation techniques, addressing salinity issues and, where possible, converting fields still using traditional row (flood) irrigation to more efficient drip and other forms of micro-irrigation.

CVWD's project is one of 43 competitively selected in 13 states throughout the West. Combined funding of all projects totals more than $27 million, including the matching contributions of partners. The Department of the Interior's Water 2025: Preventing Crises and Conflict in the West identified potential problem areas (Coachella Valley is located within such a region) in the future where more efficient use of existing water supplies through water conservation and water market projects can alleviate potential crisis.

Grants typically are awarded to applicants that demonstrate that their programs encourage voluntary water banks and other market-based measures, promoting the use of new technology for water conservation and efficiency, and removing institutional barriers to increase cooperation and collaboration among federal, state, tribal and private organizations.

"Saving water in agriculture means more water that can be stored in the valley's aquifer, where it becomes available in the future to all types of consumers-other farmers, homes, golf courses, businesses," continued Robbins. "This reduces potential conflicts, helps maintain lower costs and creates a more stable water supply."

The overall goal of the district is annually to conserve a minimum of 23,100 acre-feet of agricultural irrigation water. When this saved water is shifted to other uses, such as golf course irrigation, it reduces the amount of water withdrawn from groundwater supplies. Saved water also can be returned to recharge facilities in the lower valley, where two pilot projects are in operation.

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