LAS VEGAS, NEV-- During the annual Colorado River Water Users Association Conference today, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science Anne Castle announced the release of a report on the effectiveness of the Department of the Interior's national WaterSMART Program as demonstrated by its work within the Colorado River Basin. The report can be found at www.usbr.gov/watersmart.
“The Colorado River Basin has really served as a pilot project area to test and demonstrate the various tools available through WaterSMART to address water supply and demand imbalances around the nation,” said Castle. “The report issued today demonstrates the diversity and significance of the activities undertaken by the Department in cooperation with the states, local governments, Tribes and others to sustain Colorado River resources for people, the economy, and the environment."
Castle noted that since Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed a Secretarial Order establishing WaterSMART in 2010, the program has provided assistance to communities to improve conservation, increase water availability, restore watersheds, resolve long-standing water conflicts, address the challenges of climate change and implement water rights settlements.
The Department's WaterSMART Task Force, chaired by Castle, called for today's report to the Secretary, entitled 2011 WaterSMART Program: Colorado River Basin, in its November 2011 WaterSMART Strategic Implementation Plan.
Under WaterSMART, for example, the report shows that the Bureau of Reclamation provided 15 grants to organizations in the Colorado River Basin to improve water and energy efficiency and to develop climate-change analysis tools.
The report also highlights Interior scientific efforts underway in the Colorado River Basin such as the USGS Water Census, the newly formed Southwest Climate Science Center, established by the USGS at the University of Arizona, and Reclamation's ongoing Basin Supply and Demand Study. Through the latter study, Reclamation has partnered with the Colorado River Basin states to identify and analyze supply and demand imbalances within the basin. An interim report was released in June and a final report is expected to be complete in July 2012.
Many important water rights settlement agreements have been signed and are being implemented resolving tribal water right claims and protecting basin state water supplies. Work is underway to fulfill settlement requirements including the construction of the Navajo-Gallup Pipeline Project and construction of the White Mountain Apache Tribe rural water system.
In addition, Reclamation released its SECURE Water Act Report in April 2011, which analyzes the impacts of climate change on the Colorado River Basin and other major river systems. Reclamation and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service are leading the Southern Rockies and Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, two of the 21 cooperatives created to address the impacts of climate change on America's water, land and other natural and cultural resources.
River restoration efforts through the Upper Colorado River and San Juan River Recovery Programs, and the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program are making significant strides in recovering listed and native fish species and protecting current and future water uses within the Colorado River Basin.
WaterSMART recognizes the connection between energy uses and water uses and emphasizes the need to continue to develop sources of renewable energy. Hydropower is the nation's primary source of renewable energy, and Reclamation is improving operational efficiencies at existing hydropower generation facilities, and looking into integration of hydropower production with other renewable resources.
More information on assistance available under WaterSMART and its programs can be found at: www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART