The Department of the Interior is making $51 million available for 18 projects in eight states. The projects are designed to improve the health of aquatic ecosystems and support wildlife while also addressing water quality and flood mitigation concerns.
The funds are available through the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program and will address drought and climate change in western states by investing in water infrastructure and ecosystem restoration. The projects are expected to benefit the health of fisheries, wildlife and aquatic habitats, improving both fish passage and water quality.
“The benefits of these projects are far-reaching in terms of climate resilience and ecosystem restoration benefits,” Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton said in a statement. “The work to restore and protect the habitat for fish and wildlife also helps to improve water quality and mitigate impacts of drought and potential flood events.”
The Southern Nevada Water Authority will receive the bulk of the funding, $20 million, for erosion-control measures in the Las Vegas Wash and to create wetlands in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The Southern Nevada Water Authority serves the greater Las Vegas Valley.
The Wash is a 12-mile long channel that feeds more than 200 million gallons of excess water to Lake Mead. Introducing additional wetlands to the area will help filter impurities from the water and provide important animal habitats to endangered species in the Southern Nevada desert area.
Other projects that will receive funding include:
- Albuquerque’s Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority in New Mexico will receive $3 million for the Southside Wastewater Reclamation Plant Outfall Restoration Project. The authority plans to reconnect the Rio Grande River to its floodplain, restoring the river’s natural hydraulic processes and adding two additional acres of floodplain habitat for endangered species in the area.
- Oregon’s North Unit Irrigation District will receive $5.9 million to replace and upgrade fish screens at Bend Headworks. The facility is at the district’s main canal intake on the Deschutes River, home to many rare trout species. New screens will provide a safe path for the fish to travel to the fish ladder.
- The Confederated Tribes of the Yakama Nation in Washington will receive $3 million for the Pom Pom Road at Toppenish Creek Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage Project. The project will include the restoration of endangered species habitats, installing a bridge and three box culverts, reconnecting the creek to floodplain forests, restoring stream routes and increasing flood water storage.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey