Western US communities establish or expand watershed groups

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation provides $2.6M in funding

WaterSMART's Cooperative Watershed Management Program awarded a total of 27 communities in the Western U.S. Each group is eligible for up to $50,000 a year for two years with no federal cost-share required.

Chief Engineer David Raff said, "This program encourages cooperation among diverse stakeholders to develop local solutions for their water management needs. Local groups working together is the only way where we can develop sustainable water management solutions for Western communities."

Highlights from the portfolio of all 27 selected projects are as follows:

  • El Dorado County Water Agency will receive $99,800 to establish a new watershed group in the Upper American River watershed. The northern California watershed provides water to Folsom Reservoir, a critical piece of the Reclamation’s Central Valley Project. The group will bring together diverse stakeholders – beyond the municipal, industrial, and agricultural water users in the greater Sacramento region who provide (drinking) water supplies, hydroelectricity, and recreation opportunities – to develop a watershed approach to address threats ranging from population growth, reduced snowpack, and devastating wildfire risks.

  • Southwest Kansas Groundwater Management District 3 will receive $100,000 to create a watershed management group in the Kansas portion of the Middle Arkansas-Lake McKinney watershed to address concerns in the Upper Arkansas River Basin. Due to degraded surface water flows and impaired water quality in a portion of the Arkansas River basin, irrigators have been relying heavily on the Ogallala Aquifer. The newly formed group will build a coalition, gather information on watershed health, and outline a watershed restoration plan.

  • Oregon Deschutes Soil and Water Conservation District will receive $56,813 to establish the Indian Ford Watershed Group. The new entity in central Oregon will promote the sustainable use of water resources and develop specific restoration planning activities along the creek.

  • Devils River Conservancy will receive $99,805 to establish a new watershed group comprised of stakeholders in the Lower Devils River Watershed, in southwest Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border. The Conservancy will create a watershed inventory, identify and prioritize data gaps and needs, and develop a GIS database cumulating in a Restoration and Conservation Management Plan. Unregulated groundwater pumping, climate change effects, and drought threaten the freshwater supply to Amistad Reservoir and the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

  • Lincoln County Conservation District will receive $100,000 to establish the Columbia Basin Sustainable Groundwater Coalition. The entity will formally unite a diverse but loosely organized partnership and generate a watershed management plan that promotes sustainable water use in the Mid-Columbia Basin, an area in eastern Washington that has experienced significant groundwater level declines over the past several decades.

  • Through WaterSMART, the Bureau of Reclamation works cooperatively with states, tribes, and local entities to plan for and implement actions to increase water supply reliability through investments to modernize existing infrastructure and ease local water conflicts to provide substantial flood control, environmental benefits, and recreation opportunities. Visit www.usbr.gov for more information.