Secretary Jewell Announces $50 Million to Help Conserve Water in Drought-Stricken West

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The Department of the Interior's WaterSMART Program through the Bureau of Reclamation will support 64 projects in 12 states.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López meeting with stakeholders.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López meeting with Stakeholders on water use efficiencies and reuse and what practices they're doing to help conserve water.

In a time of exceptional drought, it is absolutely critical that states and the federal government leverage our funding resources so that we can make each drop count.

As part of the Obama Administration's continued effort to bring relief to western communities suffering from the historic drought, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced that Interior's Bureau of Reclamation will invest nearly $50 million to improve water efficiency and conservation in California and 11 other western states.

"In a time of exceptional drought, it is absolutely critical that states and the federal government leverage our funding resources so that we can make each drop count," said Secretary Jewell. "Being 'water smart' means working together to fund sustainable water initiatives that use the best available science to improve water conservation and help water resource managers identify strategies to narrow the gap between supply and demand."

Joined by Nancy Sutley, Chief Sustainability and Economic Development Officer of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the funding announcement was made today at the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, CA, where millions of gallons of wastewater are purified each day. Secretary Jewell, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López and Sutley emphasized the importance of federal-state partnerships to help work toward a more sustainable and resilient water future.

"Through the WaterSMART Program, Reclamation is providing funding for water conservation improvements and water reuse projects across the West," Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López said. "We commend the state of California for all the steps they have already taken to alleviate the impacts of the drought. We hope this federal funding for water reuse and efficiency will help us leverage scarce resources between the state and federal governments to bring much-needed relief for the people and environment of California."

"The federal government's support for critical water efficiency and reuse projects is most valuable especially during this historic drought in California," said Sutley. "The investments will help cities like Los Angeles carry out our sustainability objectives, further build our local water supply and reduce our reliance on imported water. We look forward to all these important opportunities ahead of us."

"We are honored to host Secretary Jewell at our Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant and Japanese Garden today," said LA Sanitation Director Enrique C. Zaldivar, P.E. "We look forward to learning more about the environmental partnership opportunities she will announce during her visit."

Reclamation is investing more than $24 million in grants for 50 water and energy efficiency projects in 12 western states, more than $23 million for seven water reclamation and reuse projects in California, and nearly $2 million for seven water reclamation and reuse feasibility studies in California and Texas.

WaterSMART is the U.S. Department of the Interior's sustainable water initiative. Since it was established in 2010, WaterSMART has provided about $250 million in competitively-awarded funding to non-federal partners, including tribes, water districts, municipalities and universities. These investments have conserved enough water to meet the needs of more than 3.8 million people. Every acre-foot of conserved water delivered means that an equivalent amount of existing supplies is available for other uses.

WaterSMART water and energy efficiency grants can be used for projects that conserve and use water more efficiently, increase the use of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, benefit endangered and threatened species, facilitate water markets, carry out activities to address climate-related impacts on water or prevent any water-related crisis or conflict. The 50 projects announced today will be leveraged with at least 50 percent non-federal funding for a total of $133 million in improvements over the next two to three years. For a complete description of the 50 projects, please visit the WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grant website.

Through Title XVI of the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act, Reclamation provides funding for projects that reclaim and reuse municipal, industrial, domestic or agricultural wastewater and naturally impaired ground or surface waters. Title XVI provides up to 25 percent of project costs. Project sponsors provide the remaining 75 percent of the funding necessary to carry out projects, thereby leveraging limited federal funding to implement as many water reuse projects as possible. Seven projects in California will receive $23.2 million. For a complete description of these seven water reuse projects, please visit the WaterSMART Title XVI website.

Also under the Title XVI Act, Reclamation is providing $1.6 million for communities to study whether water reuse projects would help them to meet their future water needs. Four feasibility studies in California and three studies in Texas were selected this year. Feasibility studies are funded jointly by Reclamation and project sponsors. A cost-share of at least 50 percent of study is required. For a complete description of the seven new studies selected for funding, please visit the WaterSMART Title XVI website.

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Peter Soeth
Bureau of Reclamation
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