Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced that the Bureau of Reclamation is making $50 million in funds available immediately for drought relief projects throughout the West –including nearly $20 million for California’s Central Valley Project.
“California’s ongoing drought is wreaking havoc on farmers, ranchers, municipalities, tribes and the environment,” said Secretary Jewell. “With climate change, droughts are projected to become more intense and frequent in many parts of the West, so we need to pursue every measure to provide relief and support to communities who are feeling the impacts.”
“Today’s funding will help boost immediate and long-term efforts to improve water efficiencies and increase resilience in high-risk communities, including in California’s Central Valley,” added Jewell. “I appreciate the support of Congress, especially that of Senator Feinstein and the California delegation, in helping make these much needed funds available.”
Secretary Jewell made today’s announcement after a meeting with Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. to discuss the Obama Administration’s ‘all-in’ approach to the drought in California. These efforts include strategic investments in science and monitoring, operational flexibility to help manage limited water supplies and other efforts to ensure that public health and safety are not compromised.
“This important investment will help us improve how we save and move water, while continuing to protect sensitive habitat and wildlife,” said Governor Brown. “Even with recent storms, we have a long, dry trek ahead and a close partnership with the federal government is crucial.”
Western Drought Response Funding
The $50 million for Western Drought Response was made available through the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015. The funding enables Reclamation to work with water districts and other water users to increase efficiency and conservation of available water. Highlights include:
- $19.9 million for California’s Central Valley Project. This includes: $5.37 million for Delta needs, including drought monitoring for endangered species and mechanisms to increase flexibility in water operations; $2.38 million for the Friant-Kern Canal Reverse Flow Pumping Project to bank groundwater for the southern portion of the Friant Division; $3.65 million for Water and Power Operations to facilitate water transfers in the summer months; $1 million to continue the Battle Creek habitat conservation work; $1.5 million to support the Livingston Stone Hatchery; and $6 million for refuges, including acquisition, conveyance and diversification of water supplies.
- $9 million for WaterSMART and Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program grants. The competitive grants programs support water conservation initiatives and technological breakthroughs that promote water reuse, recycling and conservation in partnership with states, tribes and other partners.
- $5 million for Drought Response and Comprehensive Drought Plans. This new program is helping states, tribes and local governments prepare for and address drought in advance of a crisis with 50/50 percent federal/non-federal funding.
- $8.6 million for the Lower Colorado River Basin Drought Response Action Plan. Funding will be used to generate up to 10,000 acre-feet of water annually in the Colorado River system storage.
In addition to the Western Drought Response funding, Reclamation is also dedicating an additional $8.8 million for the Central Valley Project made available through the Act. The funding will support operations and maintenance, fish passage and fish screens and supplement the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) water conservation partnerships to improve efficiency of agricultural water use in the state.
President’s Proposed FY16 Budget
On Monday, President Obama released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2016 which includes strong investments in the safety, reliability and efficiency of America’s water infrastructure and addresses the nation’s water supply challenges, especially in the arid West, through conservation, water reuse and applied science. Highlights include:
- $89 million for Interior’s WaterSMART program, which promotes water conservation initiatives.
- $123 million for the Central Valley Project to fund operations, management and improvements within the project, as well as for the Trinity River Restoration Program. The CVP provides water for more than 3 million acres of land in the top agricultural counties in the nation’s leading farm state. The CVP also delivers water supplies for municipalities, industrial uses, fish, wildlife and environmental purposes.
- $37 million for Bay-Delta Restoration to develop a comprehensive long-term plan to achieve the co-equal goals for securing California’s water supply and restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem.
- $35 million for the San Joaquin River Restoration Program to restore and maintain fish populations along the river, and improve water management to avoid impacts to supplies for water contractors.
West-wide Climate Risk Assessment Report
Today’s funding announcement follows on the heels of a new West-wide Climate Risk Assessment released today by Reclamation that analyzes observed and projected impacts of climate change and the demand for crop irrigation water in eight major river basins in the West.
The study projects that compared to the second half of the 20th century, net irrigation water requirements in the second half of the 21st century may be six percent higher. Meanwhile, projected annual evaporation will increase two to six inches by 2080 at most reservoirs modeled.
The projections from this water demands analysis will inform ongoing and future basin studies, impact assessments, and other planning efforts carried out by Reclamation and its partners.
National Drought Resilience Partnership
In 2013, President Obama formed the National Drought Resilience Partnership to ensure that his Administration is ready to help the farmers, ranchers, small businesses, tribes and communities being impacted throughout the country. The partnership between seven federal agencies coordinates long term drought resilience efforts and makes it easier for communities to find the drought assistance they need by promoting collaboration and information sharing at all levels of government. Communities can find more information on the types of federal assistance available by calling 202-564-8086 or visiting here.
The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor released Feb. 5 can be viewed here.