May 29, 2013

Interior Awards Grants to Improve Water Management

Projects in 11 states will receive $20.8 million in water and energy efficiency grants

WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants Interior Reclamation

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor announced 44 projects in 11 states that will receive $20.8 million in WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants from Reclamation.

Reclamation estimates that together the 44 projects could save more than 100,000 acre-ft of water annually—enough for more than 400,000 people. Through reduced pumping and the addition of more efficient equipment, these projects are anticipated to save 10.8 million kilowatt-hours annually—enough energy to power nearly 1,000 households.

Any entity receiving funding must provide at least a 50% match to the Reclamation funding. Entities that are eligible for funding include states, Indian tribes, irrigation districts, water districts or other organizations with water or power delivery authority in the 17 western states, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands.

Applicants applied to one of two funding groups. The first funding group included 25 projects that could receive up to $300,000 and generally are smaller projects that may take up to two years to complete. The second funding group included ten projects, which could receive up to $1.5 million for larger, phased projects that will take up to three years to complete. This will provide an opportunity for larger, multiple-year projects to receive some funding in the first year without having to compete for funding in the second and third years. Nine projects selected in the second funding group in FY 2012 will receive additional funding this fiscal year to finish their projects.

Proposals were ranked through a published set of criteria in which points were awarded for those projects that conserve water, incorporate renewable energy or address the water-energy nexus, address Endangered Species Act concerns, contribute to water supply sustainability, and/or incorporate water marketing.

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 $159 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-ft of water per year is estimated to have been saved.

Click here to view the complete list of projects.