The American west is now the fastest growing region of the country. The growing demand for water resources to meet the needs of expanding municipalities, the environment, and agriculture is increasing competition for finite supplies. At the same time, historically normal rainfall and snowpack conditions in the west appear to be shifting due to climate change.The U.S. Department of the Interior has an important role to play in providing leadership and assistance to States, tribes, and local communities to address competing demands for water.
The Challenge Grants leverage Federal funding by requiring a 50 percent non-Federal cost-share contribution. Grants are available to States, tribes, irrigation and water districts, and other entities with water or power delivery authority.
Reclamation published a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) in April 2009 and then assembled an internal team to review, screen, and prioritize 141 projects submitted for ARRA funding using the criteria presented in the FOA. Points were awarded: for those projects that are scheduled to expend the funds quickly; to those projects that will be completed by no later than September 30, 2010; for projects that propose water marketing or banking elements; for projects that will conserve water and improve efficiency; that will improve water management through measurement, automation, advanced water measurement systems, or through other approaches where water savings are not quantifiable; for the reasonableness of the cost for the benefits gained; on how well the project will improve sustainable water supplies for the 21st century and the extent of collaborative effort; if the proposal demonstrates stakeholder involvement; if the proposal is in a basin with connections to Reclamation project activities; for proposals that can demonstrate results based on the level of planning supporting the project; to proposals that provide support for the development of performance measures to quantify actual project benefits upon completion of the project; for applicants that demonstrate the financial ability to pay for the estimated project costs and any increase in operation and maintenance costs associated with the proposed work; and to proposals that provide non-Federal funding in excess of 50 percent of the project costs.
One project located in Arizona, eight projects in California, one project in Idaho, two projects in Oregon, and one project in Utah were selected for funding:
- Antelope Valley Water Bank Initial Recharge and Recovery Facility Improvement Project, Semitropic-Rosamond Water Bank Authority, California: $5,000,000 for improvements to an existing spreading basin, new pipelines, installation of four groundwater recovery wells, a new recovery basin, new collection and recovery system, and a turnout.
- Bear River Innovative Water Conservation Measure, Bear River Water District #11, Idaho: $3,838,759 to install 30 measuring devices and real-time automated water diversion reporting systems for 19 of 53 diversion points along the Bear River Basin in Idaho. The project will also convert 34.2 miles of ditch to pipeline and line 450 feet of canal with a polyurea lining.
- Calloway Canal to Lerdo Canal Intertie, North Kern Water Storage District, California: $5,000,000 to construct a bi-directional water conveyance connection to enhance the District’s ability to divert and deliver water.
- Canal Lining, Forebay Channel, and Headworks Replacement project, Davis and Weber Counties Canal Company, Utah: $3,674,598 to automate headgates and line 1,339 feet of canal with reinforced concrete.
- Main Canal Pipeline Phase I, Three Sisters Irrigation District, Oregon: $1,300,000 to convert 16,500 feet of open canal to buried pipe; replace manual wooden headgates with automated headgates, install remotely-operated monitoring and control system; replace a wooden flume and gauging station with measuring devices that will connect to the new monitoring and control system; and work with the Deschutes River Conservancy to market approximately 833 acre-feet of water per year to protect flows for fish and water quality in Whychus Creek.
- Main Canal Piping Project and Ponderosa Hydroplant, Swalley Irrigation District, Oregon: $2,058,935 to complete piping of ¾ miles of canal, the design and construction of a 0.75 megawatt hydropower plant, and a solar telemetry project that would allow the District to use solar power for a system that monitors, measures, and controls water.
- Mulholand Highway Recycled Transmission Main, Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, California: $1,949,474 for a recycled water bank and associate pipeline.
- Oro Grande Wash Groundwater Recharge Project, Mojave Water Agency, California: $1,949,474 for several groundwater recharge ponds, a control facility and outlet structures.
- Pond-Poso Spreading and Recovery Facility, Semitropic Water Storage District, California: $2,220,659 for the construction of spreading ponds and ditches, inter-basin structures, pumping plant, and 32 groundwater recovery wells.
- Sacramento Regional Water Meter Installation Acceleration Project, Sacramento Suburban Water District, California: $5,000,000 to install 3,766 water meters.
- Tule River Intertie Project, Lower Tule River Irrigation District, California: $2,143,533 to improve 1 mile of the existing canal and associated control structures, and to construct 2.5 miles of new canal and associated control structures.
- Turnipseed Groundwater Bank – Phase II, Delano-Earlimart Irrigation District, California: $1,000,000 to expand an existing 80-acre groundwater bank through the installation of additional recovery wells, deepening of existing recharge basins, and raising basin levees.
- Water Resources Sustainability Enhancements in Peoria project, the City of Peoria, Arizona: $1,843,291 to construct an additional recharge basin to bank reclaimed water from the City’s water reclamation facility; convert a well system from potable to non-potable water; and construct a reclaimed water pipeline and water measuring devices to allow reclaimed water from the City’s water reclamation facility to flow to the Roosevelt Irrigation District Groundwater Savings Facility, where it can be used for agriculture.
Of the nearly $40 million in funding announced by the Department today, the Bureau of Reclamation will utilize about $ 1.95 million to ensure the projects’ compliance with federal regulations and statutes as well as adherence to the Recovery Act goals. Due to the requirement for cost sharing, the combined investment exceeds $96 million.
Recipients of the Challenge Grant funding announced today must meet specific requirements such as demonstrating complete compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental laws; have an approved determination of financial capability; and an executed cooperative agreement for financial assistance.
Benefits will vary by project. Typically, benefits associated with Water Marketing and Efficiency Grants are as follows:
- Allow the transfer of water to other uses to meet critical needs for water supplies;
- Decrease diversions from waterways;
- Reduce pressure on groundwater aquifers;
- Use or transfer the water conserved;
- Increase operational flexibility (constructing aquifer recharge facilities or making; system optimization and management improvements); and
- Increase water flow data and improve monitoring of hydrologic conditions to allow water users to closely control water diversions and consumptive use.
ARRA funding: $40 million.