LOS ANGELES (AP) — The U.S. government will invest nearly $50 million in water conservation and reuse projects in 12 drought-stricken Western states, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced Wednesday.
"It is absolutely critical that states and the federal government leverage our funding resources so that we can make each drop count," Jewell said at a wastewater purification plant in Los Angeles.
The money will partially fund more than 60 projects in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington.
It will help pay for studies and projects to stretch water supplies by creating pipelines, eliminating leaky open canals and upgrading existing reclamation and water treatment plants.
The idea is to conserve water in order to replenish shrinking groundwater supplies and ease the use of expensive imported water.
California and Texas, with huge agricultural, industrial and residential demands on water supply, have the lion's share of the projects.
About $5 million in federal funding will go to help build more than 20 miles of recycled water pipeline, add a pair of 2.75-million gallon storage reservoirs and make other improvements to a program that provides recycled water throughout Santa Clara County in California's Silicon Valley.
Other projects include building a wastewater collection and treatment plant in Yucca Valley to replenish the groundwater in the California high desert area; building pipelines and pumping stations to provide reclaimed water for irrigation; and restoring salt marsh and other habitat in Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties.
In Oregon, $1 million in funding will help the Three Sisters Irrigation District project install pipes in 14,000 feet of the open Watson-McKenzie Main Canal, saving 1,900 acre-feet of water that would otherwise seep away. Some of the conserved water will be used for Whychus Creek to benefit salmon, trout, frogs and other wildlife.
Funding for the Southern Nevada Water Authority will help expand an existing incentive program to get property owners to replace thirsty lawn with water-efficient landscaping.
The money comes from the Interior Department's WaterSMART sustainable water initiative, which has provided about $250 million in funding since 2010.
"These investments have conserved enough water to meet the needs of more than 3.8 million people," the Interior Department said in a statement