May 21, 2015 -- As part of the Obama Administration's continued effort to bring relief to western communities impacted by ongoing drought, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the Bureau of Reclamation will invest nearly $50 million to support 64 projects that involve improving water efficiency and water conservation in the state of 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 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 on Wednesday, May 20, at the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, Calif., where millions of gallons of wastewater are purified each day. Jewell, Sutley and Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López 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," said López. "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."
Sutley added, "The federal government's support for critical water efficiency and reuse projects is most valuable especially during this historic drought in California. 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."
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. 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.
WaterSMART is the U.S. Department of the Interior's sustainable water initiative. The program's 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.
WateReuse Association Applaus Reclamation's Efforts
The WateReuse Association applauds Reclamation's efforts in these 12 states. "Given the tremendous drought facing the west and the identified $2.8 billion funding gap for planned water infrastructure, it is essential that we make adequate funding a priority," said WateReuse Executive Director Melissa Meeker. "We believe a real commitment to improving our water infrastructure is critical and are hopeful that the Administration and Congress will continue to focus on assisting the states and local water agencies to help relieve the burden of this and future droughts by supporting innovative water reuse infrastructure funding programs."
To help better share the benefits of water reuse in water supply resilience preparation, WateReuse is partnering with the Water Environment Federation and the Water Environment Association of Texas to coordinate testimony for a congressional briefing on June 11, 2015, hosted by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. Municipal leaders who have implemented water reuse projects into their municipal water supply infrastructure will provide firsthand insights into the success and needs of water reuse technology and infrastructure.
Several WateReuse members will participate in the briefing, including Russell Schreiber of the City of Wichita Falls, Texas, Richard Nagel of the West Basin Municipal Water District, serving parts of Los Angeles County, and Al Cho of global water technology provider Xylem. This briefing will provide Members of Congress and staff with the knowledge they need to help work with their constituents to solve current and future water supply challenges.