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In honor of World Water Day, CAP was recognized as an example of cooperation, collaboration, and innovation in long-term water management last week in the White House Water Summit, along with Denver Water, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the Southern Nevada Water Authority and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. One of the announcements made at this historic summit was that the Bureau will be allocating up to $5 million – in addition to an initial $11 million – for conservation projects along the Colorado River.

This increase in funding builds upon the success of the Colorado River’s landmark Pilot System Conservation Program, aimed at funding water-efficiency projects capable of effectively reducing demands on the Colorado River and bolstering water levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell. The additional funding will be allocated based on proportional contributions from the program’s funding partners, with up to $1.5 million apportioned for projects in the Upper Basin and $3.5 million for Lower Basin projects.

Initiated as a progressive response to ongoing drought conditions that have significantly reduced the aggregate flows of the Colorado River by approximately 30 percent, the Pilot System Conservation Program is a cooperative effort between Upper and Lower Basin water users to help manage water demands and increase the reliability of the Colorado River. Examples of projects already underway include enhancing agricultural irrigation systems, removing turf grass and expanding water reuse.

One unprecedented element of the Program is that the water saved remains in the Colorado River system; it is not allocated to any one state, agency, or water user. Rather than a traditional water transfer between two agencies, the Pilot System Conservation Agreement provides benefits to all Colorado River water and power users. Nearly $11 million already has been awarded through the program to fund more than a dozen water-efficiency projects in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming. With the Colorado River system as the beneficiary, these projects represent more than 60,000 acre-feet, or 20 billion gallons, in water savings.

The White House Summit was aimed at creating a dialogue regarding how a growing population and changing climate continue to exacerbate water challenges and to catalyze change in how we use, conserve, protect and think about water in the years to come.

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