Additional Funding Allocation Available for Selected Conservation Projects

For more information: 
Bob Muir, Metropolitan Water District, (213) 217-6930;
Crystal Thompson, Central Arizona Project, (623) 869-2138;
Scott Huntley, Southern Nevada Water Authority, (702) 258-7258;
Rose Davis, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, (702) 293-8421;

As recognized today during the White House Water Summit, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) is soliciting project proposals to build upon the success of the Colorado River’s landmark Pilot System Conservation Program, which is 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.

Due to strong participation interest in this innovative water-efficiency program, Reclamation has allocated up to $5 million—in addition to Program’s initial $11 million funding level—for conservation projects along the Colorado River. 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.

This new request for project proposals is being issued for projects within the Lower Colorado River Basin. Project proposals within the Lower Basin must be submitted by entitlement holders by April 22, 2016.

While this solicitation only targets projects within the Lower Colorado River Basin, numerous projects submitted during the previous funding allocation period are currently being implemented in the Upper Basin.

“The program is successfully demonstrating that voluntary, compensated water conservation projects such as enhancing agricultural irrigation systems, removing turf grass, and expanding water reuse are feasible options to help mitigate the impacts of the ongoing drought in the Colorado River Basin,” said Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Regional Director Terry Fulp. “The infusion of additional funding means we can continue to investigate conservation concepts appropriate for system-level conservation.”

The Program is funded through a partnership between Central Arizona Project, Denver Water, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Southern Nevada Water Authority and Reclamation.

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.

“The first round of Pilot System Conservation projects has demonstrated that interstate cooperation throughout the Colorado River Basin can save Colorado River water and improve the health of the river,” said Central Arizona Project General Manager Ted Cooke. “CAP is looking forward to continuing this important program with our partners to advance system savings and help avoid shortages in the future."

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,” said Metropolitan Water District General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger. “This agreement is a step forward in addressing the long-term water supply challenges facing the Colorado River.”

“With the Colorado River system as the beneficiary, it was important that this Program be inclusive of the river’s geographic diversity and water use sectors,” said John Entsminger, SNWA General Manager. “With the wide array of project proposals representing agricultural, municipal and industrial uses, incentivizing voluntary reductions in water use through this program provides a feasible drought mitigation tool.”

Nearly $11 million 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.