Interior's WaterSMART Program Funds Studies of Water Supplies and River Environments in Five Western Water Basins

Los Angeles Basin, Pecos River Basin, Republican River Basin, Sacramento-San Joaquin River Basins and Upper Washita Basin to receive funding

Last edited 09/05/2019

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that Interior's Bureau of Reclamation is providing $2.4 million in funding for comprehensive water studies in California, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

The funding comes through the Department of the Interior's WaterSMART Basin Study Program. This program provides leadership and tools to states and local communities to address current or projected imbalances between water supply and demand and to work toward sustainable solutions. In addition to the federal funding, $3.9 million will be provided by non-federal partners for a total of more than $6.3 million.

“WaterSMART is a perfect example of the value of strong partnerships that bring Interior together with local water and conservation managers to create sustainable water supplies in the West," Secretary Salazar said. “Rivers are the lifeblood of our communities. As we work together to study these complex river basins, we can explore options to help guide water management and administration for the future and ensure the health of our vital ecosystems for coming generations.”

The selected projects are the Los Angeles Basin in California; the Pecos River Basin in New Mexico; the Republican River Basin in Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska; the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Basins in California and the Upper Washita River Basin in Oklahoma.

“The collaboration that takes place during the development of a basin study is a fundamental goal of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative,” Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor added. “Through America's Great Outdoors, we are developing lasting conservation solutions that are supported by the American people. In the case of two of the basin studies, the findings will be woven into the Department of the Interior's River initiative as part of the 50-state America's Great Outdoors conservation and recreation agenda.”

Specifically, the Los Angeles Basin and Sacramento-San Joaquin Basin have projects within their boundaries that were identified in the America's Great Outdoors 50-State Report released in November 2011.

Basin studies are comprehensive water studies that define options for meeting future water demands in river basins in the western United States where imbalances in water supply and demand exist or are projected to exist. Each study consists of four key segments:

  • State-of-the-art projections of future supply and demand in the river basin;
  • An analysis of how the basin's existing water and power operations and infrastructure will perform in the face of changing water realities;
  • Development of options to improve operations and infrastructure to supply adequate water in the future; and
  • Analysis of the options identified to arrive at findings and recommendations about how to optimize operations and infrastructure in a basin to supply adequate water in the future.

The non-federal partners in a basin study must contribute at least 50 percent of the total study cost in non-federal funding or in-kind services. Basin studies are not financial assistance and Reclamation's share of the study costs may be used only to support work done by Reclamation or its contractors. Non-federal partners include state and city agencies, municipal water districts, flood control districts, foundations, conservation groups, and civic organizations.

The WaterSMART Program addresses increasing water supply challenges, including chronic water shortages due to population growth, climate variability and change and growing competition for finite water supplies. Through the basin studies program, Reclamation will work cooperatively with state and local partners in the 17 western states to evaluate future water supply and demand imbalances, assess the risks and impacts of climate change on water resources and develop potential mitigation and adaptation strategies to meet future demands.

For specific information on the WaterSMART Basin Studies, please visit For information on the WaterSMART Program, please visit


WaterSMART Basin Study Selections

Los Angeles Basin Study (California)

Federal Funding: $620,036; Non-Federal Funding: $1,422,626

The Los Angeles Basin covers approximately 1,900 square miles and includes close to 10 million people. Los Angeles County accounts for the largest water demand of any urbanized county in California. It is estimated that by the year 2025, the area will experience a water supply shortage of 800,000 acre-feet per year. The study will identify alternatives, conduct trade-off analyses and develop recommendations to help bridge the gap between current and future water supply and water demand projections, taking into account climate change and population growth projections. This basin study includes the area in which trail improvements to the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers were identified in the America's Great Outdoors 2011 50-state report as one of two top priorities in California. Trail and river improvements will be made as an integral part of the steps for creating sustainable water supplies and maximizing yields from these rivers. Also part of this basin study is the recently announced Los Angeles River restoration project, a pilot project of the multi-agency Federal Urban Waters Initiative, which focuses on the interrelationships of the quality of life and economies of urban communities with the rivers that connect them.

Pecos River Basin Study (New Mexico)

Federal Funding: $110,000; Non-Federal Funding: $130,000

The Pecos River Basin covers approximately 4,924 square miles in east-central New Mexico. The basin experiences chronic water shortages and also historically has experienced highly variable water supplies and frequent droughts. The study will focus on the Fort Sumner Basin within the Pecos River Basin. The study will develop improved tools for federal and state water managers to better administer the limited water supplies in the basin, evaluate new mitigation and adaptation strategies and build on previous water planning efforts to incorporate predicted impacts of climate change into estimates and demand projections related to Fort Sumner Basin water availability.

Republican River Basin Study (Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska)

Federal Funding: $413,000; Non-Federal Funding: $435,000

The Republican River flows from its headwaters in Colorado into northwest Kansas, through southern Nebraska and back into north-central Kansas. It drains approximately 23,300 square miles of these three states and supplies water for municipalities, industries, surface and ground water irrigation, recreation and wildlife. The basin is subject to an interstate compact that was ratified in 1943. The three states have proposed a collaborative basin study that will cover the entire basin down to the Clay Center stream-gauging station in northeast Kansas. The study will identify mitigation and adaptation strategies that address the impacts of climate change on water resources in the basin.

Sacramento-San Joaquin River Basins Study (California)

Federal Funding: $1,050,000; Non-Federal Funding: $1,480,000

The Sacramento and San Joaquin River Basins, located in California's Central Valley, are the main sources of water supplies for urban, agricultural and environmental water uses throughout the area. The study area will include the Sacramento River Basin, San Joaquin River Basin, Tulare Lake Basin and a small portion of the upper Trinity River Basin. Combined they include approximately 49 million acres—including extensive areas of national forests, parks and wildlife refuges, more than 7 million acres of irrigated agricultural lands and many rapidly growing urban areas. The study will assess the potential impacts of changing climatic conditions on water supplies and demands and investigate imbalances and potential changes to agricultural productivity, water quality, hydropower potential, as well as economic and environmental conditions. The America's Great Outdoors 2011 50-state report identified the San Joaquin River Restoration Program as one of two top priorities in California. This basin study will provide a unique opportunity to comprehensively assess potential climate change impacts to the structural and non-structural features of both the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. Where impacts are identified, this basin study will develop portfolios of adaptive strategies in concert with California's Department of Water Resources and other local agency partners and stakeholders.

Upper Washita River Basin Study (Oklahoma)

Federal Funding: $250,000; Non-Federal Funding: $450,000

The Washita River is located in Oklahoma and Texas, with more than 7,000 square miles of drainage within Oklahoma. The study will focus on the Upper Washita Basin in west-central Oklahoma, which is currently experiencing impacts from the drought that affected Oklahoma in 2011. In addition, the Fort Cobb Master Conservancy District delivers water from Fort Cobb Reservoir in this basin and has been unable to meet peak water demands for up to four months every year for the past 12 years due to an undersized and inefficient aqueduct system. The Rush Springs Aquifer — which underlies a large portion of the study area — is an important municipal and agricultural water source. The study will include incorporation of climate change projections into ground and surface water models, a systems reliability analysis, an assessment of operational and infrastructure constraints associated with Reclamation's Washita Basin Project and the evaluation and recommendation of alternatives to address the severe water quality and quantity issues currently facing the area.


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