Department of Interior and Department of Agriculture Announce $5.3 million to Fund Collaborative Projects for Agricultural Water Use Efficiencies

Last edited 09/05/2019

Washington, D.C. – Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes and Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced that collaboration between the agencies is again providing funds to improve the efficiency of agricultural water use throughout the State of California.

Agencies of the Department of the Interior (Bureau of Reclamation) and Agriculture (Natural Resources Conservation Service), are working together to leverage funds for water delivery agencies and agricultural producers for a second consecutive year, and will provide $5.3 million in funding to five water districts and associated growers to save water and improve water management.

“Coordinated federal actions and investments, such as this cooperative effort between Interior and USDA, are important steps toward improving water conservation and water supply sustainability in California, now and in the future,” said Hayes.

"By working in partnership, USDA and Interior better ensure that water management efforts enhance water supplies and sustain our natural resources," said Merrigan.

The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) launched the cooperative pilot program to fund water conservation and water use efficiency projects last year. Due to the success of the program, Reclamation and NRCS partnered once again to expand the benefits of the collaboration.

With NRCS support, Reclamation selected five projects for funding, totaling $2.3 million under its Agricultural Conservation and Efficiency Grants program. The selected projects will increase district-level efficiencies and facilitate farm water conservation and water use efficiency. NRCS will provide up to an additional $3 million in funding, and technical assistance to growers in the selected districts, for eligible on-farm conservation practices. (Adding $3 million from NRCS to Reclamation's $2.3 million in funding, a total of $5.3 million is being provided to enhance water conservation.) NRCS will work with each district to determine the appropriate application periods for the district's eligible growers.

The five recipients of the funding are the Henry Miller Reclamation District 2131, Firebaugh Canal Water District, Tulare Irrigation District, Rancho California Water District and Central California Irrigation District.

Through a funding opportunity announcement, entitled “Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency Grants,” Reclamation invited Tribes, irrigation districts, water districts and other organizations with water or power delivery authority to leverage their money and resources with Reclamation for district-level water conservation and water use efficiency projects.

The following provides details on the selected projects (all reported water savings are estimated district-level savings and do not include estimated on-farm savings):

Tulare Irrigation District

Canal Modernization Project, Phase II

Reclamation Funding: $467,200, Total Project Cost: $934,400

The district will install flow measurement and automated delivery devices at the headworks of Packwood Creek, Evans Canal and regulating basins within the district. The project will improve water management capabilities within the district's canal system and facilitate flexibility to meet grower irrigation demands. The project will reduce system spills and is expected to save 1,355 acre-feet of water annually.

Rancho California Water District

Enhanced Agricultural Efficiency Program

Reclamation Funding: $174,355, Total Project Cost: $350,382

The district will implement remote sensing technologies that include weather stations for localized evapotranspiration data and probes for generating soil moisture data. The project will provide more accurate data for estimating crop water requirements, improve irrigation scheduling and efficiency, optimize crop yields, and reduce soil erosion and deposition of fertilizer-borne pollutants into local surface and ground waters. The project is expected to conserve 276 acre-feet of water annually.

Firebaugh Canal Water District

Second Lift Canal Lining Project, Phase III

Reclamation Funding: $500,000, Total Project Cost: $2,150,000

The project will allow concrete lining of 2.2 miles of earthen canal to prevent seepage, as well as eliminate high sediment loads in delivered water. By decreasing suspended silts, growers can reduce the back flushing and filtering needed for efficient farm irrigation systems such as drip, or sub-surface, drip irrigation. Through reductions in seepage, the project is expected to conserve 485 acre-feet of water annually.

Central California Irrigation District

East Ditch Reservoir and Santa Rita Canal Reservoir Project

Reclamation Funding: $1,000,000, Total Project Cost: $3,700,000

The proposed project will construct two regulating reservoirs to capture operational spills and drain water from canals. The reservoirs will provide mid-stream storage to hold the captured water and release it back into the irrigation system as needed, improving delivery flexibility and providing more precise control of irrigation flows. The project is expected to conserve 12,000 acre-feet of water annually.

Henry Miller Reclamation District

Lower Arroyo Canal Modernization Project

Reclamation Funding: $117,532, Total Project Cost: $239,350

The project will install five long crested weirs on the Lower Arroyo Canal. The weirs precisely control canal water levels and help prevent system spills. Installing the weirs will reduce water level fluctuations, providing more constant deliveries to improve reliability and flexibility of deliveries to growers. It will also promote accurate measuring and water accounting. The project is expected to conserve 4,750 acre-feet of water annually.

For more information on Reclamation's water conservation programs, please visit For more information on NRCS conservation programs, please visit

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