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Contra Costa Water District, Water 2025 Challenge Grant

Remarks Delivered By:
John W. Keyes, III, Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation
Contra Costa Water District, Water 2025 Challenge Grant
Oakley
October 14, 2004


It's great to be here today to talk about Water 2025 and to recognize the Contra Costa Water District. The District's Challenge Grant project to line part of the Contra Costa Canal will accelerate on-the-ground water conservation here in California.

Reclamation has a long history with the Canal. Reclamation began construction of the Contra Costa Canal in 1937. Three years later, at this site in Oakley, the facility delivered the Central Valley Project's first water supplies in California.

Today, we celebrate another important investment we are making here in California, through a Water 2025 Challenge Grant.

The partners working together on this project have anticipated important needs. I commend all of you for coming together to solve common problems. Thank you for all your hard work.

Water is our most precious resource in the West, truly our lifeblood: No water, no livelihood, no life. Water can also be our most contentious resource. Water 2025 has identified areas where potential crises and conflicts over water may occur, and the Challenge Grant projects, such as this one to improve the Contra Costa Canal, have proposed innovative ways to head off problems by conserving and distributing this resource more efficiently and more effectively.

The Contra Costa Water District Project

The Contra Costa Water District will install 2,100 feet of pipe in the Contra Costa Canal to isolate drinking water from agricultural saline groundwater seepage. The canal conveys drinking water to 450,000 residents and vital industries in Contra Costa County.

In addition to benefits for local stakeholders, this project provides benefits statewide as well. The project will improve the ability of the Central Valley Project to meet established Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta water quality standards that were not being met because of long-standing local degradation on this reach of the canal.

The project will result in water savings ranging from 9,000 to 34,000 acre-feet per year, depending on the water supply conditions. One acre-foot is about 325,850 gallons, approximately the amount of water needed to supply a family of four with enough water for one year. And monetary savings will average $1.4 million each year. The total project cost is $9.13 million, with a Water 2025 contribution of $200,000.

Water 2025 is a Comprehensive Solution for Water Management

The Challenge Grant program is the heart of our Water 2025 initiative. The project we are recognizing today is a great example of the spirit of the Water 2025 Challenge Grant program, which supports partnerships that offer innovative, locally managed solutions to our most pressing water challenges. The Bush Administration has emphasized such efforts and vastly increased the funding available for conservation partnerships.

I would like to say how proud I am to be working for President Bush and Interior Secretary Gale Norton--leaders who really understand our water issues here in the West and create the setting to help us all succeed.

In June, Secretary Norton announced the 19 recipients of the fiscal year 2004 Water 2025 Challenge Grants. This year's 19 Challenge Grant projects represent 10 western States--from California to Colorado, from Montana to Texas.

The Challenge Grant program shows how leveraging the federal investment can provide tremendous benefits. Federal grants of $4 million are helping to fund the projects, which are returning almost $30 million in on-the-ground water delivery system improvements. That is a seven-to-one return on the federal investment.

Now, we're gearing up for next year's program. For next year, fiscal year 2005, President Bush has requested $21 million for Water 2025, and we expect the Challenge Grant program to thrive. We will publish the Request for Proposals soon.

Water 2025 is our vision for the next quarter century; "vision" is a good description--Water 2025 provides the framework to change the way we view a precious resource. The drought that the West has been experiencing over the past five years has captured the attention of most. However, drought is not the only cause of water shortages. Even in normal or wet years, demands are exceeding available supplies.

Water scarcity is becoming commonplace in the West, and the Bush Administration's Water 2025 initiative provides a comprehensive way to address the challenges we will face over the coming decades. Water 2025 has identified areas of potential conflict and crisis, and Reclamation initiated the Challenge Grant program to address these situations and avert problems.

We certainly know that crisis management is ineffective in dealing with water problems. Water 2025, and the Challenge Grant program in particular, is a perfect example of partnering to get ahead of problems before they occur. Water 2025 provides a way to recognize today's realities and take action in advance of crises.

Water 2025 is part of the larger picture of the New Environmentalism--a cornerstone policy of the Bush Administration. This is an environmentalism of cooperative conservation that focuses on partnerships and results. Our goal is to create healthy lands and waters, thriving communities with dynamic economies, and we believe that our Challenge Grant recipients will be able to do just that.

The Challenge Grant projects exemplify the principle of cooperative conservation that President Bush and Secretary Norton have brought to our work. Water 2025 is not about imposing solutions from Washington. The underlying principle is that states, tribes, irrigators, local governments, and local communities should have the leading role in meeting their future water needs.

Secretary Norton brought to the Interior Department the basic management principle we call the 4Cs: Conservation through cooperation, communication, and consultation.

The 4Cs means working together to get things done. It means partnerships. It means local decisions about local issues.

Conclusion

It is heartening to see tribes, states, local water organizations, and other stakeholder and citizen groups take the lead in resolving differences, looking to innovative solutions and mapping out the future of water management.

The Water 2025 Challenge Grant projects demonstrate that we can achieve results without a large federal investment and that the best solutions to chronic water shortages come not from the federal government, but from the people whose lives are most affected.

All of us benefit from the innovation and can-do spirit exemplified by these projects. We expect that the success of these partnerships will encourage and inspire others to become better stewards.

Collaboration is the key, and the Challenge Grant program fosters this climate of cooperation. Working together as partners through Water 2025, we can make a difference in preventing crisis and conflict over water for many years to come.

Thank you.