Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes and Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced that by working together to leverage monies for water delivery agencies and agricultural producers in California’s Central Valley, agencies of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture will provide $9.1 million in funding to five water/power delivery districts to save water, improve water management and create new supplies for agricultural irrigation.

“This cooperative effort is a concrete step forward in coordinating and leveraging federal actions to meet water supply needs while alleviating the ecological decline of the California Bay-Delta,” Deputy Secretary Hayes said.

“USDA and Interior are working in tandem with partners in the Central Valley to ensure that water management and conservation efforts enhance water supplies for both rural and urban users,” Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said. “This announcement today exemplifies President Obama’s call to find creative and innovative ways for government to work better together.”

As a result of the 2009 Interim Federal Action Plan for the Bay Delta, the Bureau of Reclamation – an agency of the Department of the Interior – and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) – part of the Department of Agriculture – launched the cooperative pilot program to fund water use efficiency projects.

With support from NRCS, Reclamation has selected five projects for funding, totaling 
$4.1 million, under its WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow) program. The selected projects will increase district-level efficiencies and facilitate water conservation and/or water use efficiency on farms. NRCS will provide up to an additional
$5 million in funding and technical assistance to growers in the selected districts for eligible on-farm conservation practices. (Adding $5 million from NRCS to Reclamation’s $4.1 million in WaterSMART funding, a total of $9.1 million is being provided to enhance water conservation.) NRCS will work with each district to determine the appropriate sign-up/application periods for the district’s eligible growers.

“NRCS is committed to partnering with private landowners to enhance water conservation in the Bay-Delta,” said NRCS Chief Dave White. “By working with Reclamation, we can provide a more comprehensive approach to water conservation that benefits the entire region.”

“Federal, state and local partnerships are the keys to addressing California’s long-term water issues,” said Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor. “Multiple federal agencies are strategically aligning their resources under the action plan. There is no time to waste.”

The five recipients of the funding include the Buena Vista Water Storage District, South San Joaquin Irrigation District, Semitropic Water Storage District, Henry Miller Reclamation District 2131, and the Firebaugh Canal Water District.

Through a WaterSMART Funding Opportunity Announcement, “Bay-Delta Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency Grants,” Reclamation invited Tribes, irrigation districts, water districts and other organizations with water or power delivery authority to leverage their money and resources with Reclamation on water conservation and water use efficiency projects. Following are the details on the projects selected to receive grants (please note that all reported water savings are estimated district-level savings and do not include estimated on-farm savings):