Eleven states are receiving $51 million for 30 projects that conserve water and improve water quality and the ecological health of waterways in the Western United States.
The Department of Interior (DOI) announced Nov. 15 the funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law would flow through the Bureau of Reclamation’s Environmental Water Resources Projects funding category.
Reclamation, established in 1902, helps manage water and power infrastructure for the 17 Western states, including dams, power plants and canals. Up to $3 million was available per project, which had to have cost less than $6 million and be completed in three years. Eligible projects include those that would improve water availability, increase water quality, restore river life and ecosystems or use natural features to reduce the risks of flood or drought.
Of the 30 projects, eight are in Colorado and will total over $13.35 million. Five projects will each receive the highest amount awarded of $3 million:
- The San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District in California will use the funds to restore about 21.7 acres of aquatic habitat and build a stream channel in the Upper Santa Ana River Watershed. The goal is to improve water quality and allow experts to remove endangered and sensitive species.
- Chama Peak Land Alliance in New Mexico will prune trees on about 2,150 acres to protect area water sources from the impacts of future wildfires. The watersheds provide drinking water to the cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe and area tribes, Pueblos and other rural communities.
- Deschutes Land Trust and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will restore 124 acres on the Ochoco Preserve, which is home to many native aquatic species, to prevent low water flows.
- Kittitas Reclamation District in central Washington will restore water flows to protect fish and other wildlife in Mantash Creek.
- The city of Casper in Wyoming will collaborate with a local group to restore part of the North Platte River and prevent erosion and improve the river’s habitat.
On Nov. 14, the Bureau of Reclamation also announced the next Water and Energy Efficiency Grants for up to $50 million. Applicates are now open through February for projects that would focus on water savings, incorporate renewable energy and offer weather and drought resilience and sustainability. This two-year grant program offers a 50/50 share in the cost of projects to irrigation and water districts, states, tribes and other water and power authorities.
The announcement came nearly seven months after the DOI awarded $140 million for 84 water conservation and efficiency projects. Funds will help conserve 230,000 acre-feet of water, about 77 billion gallons, that could serve 940,000 people.
The BIL will allocate $8.3 billion to Reclamation over five years for water infrastructure projects, such as rural water resources, storage, conservation, dam safety, purification, resume and desalination. In two years, $2.8 billion has already helped fund 372 projects.
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