Projects to benefit water users, delivery systems; generate construction jobs
WASHINGTON, DC - Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that $20.1 million in combined federal funding has been awarded to four irrigation districts in western Colorado. The funding will improve irrigation delivery systems by reducing the amount of salinity in Colorado River water.
The cost-share awards, between the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Reclamation and the western Colorado irrigation district companies, will fund installation of more efficient water delivery infrastructure, including lining of canals and laterals, and conversion of existing laterals into pipe delivery systems.
“Salinity is a costly issue for water users on the Colorado River, and these four projects, when completed, will prevent more than 23,000 tons of salt from entering the Colorado River every year,” Secretary Salazar said. “The funding will create jobs and benefit both local and downstream water users by providing cost-efficient, low-maintenance water delivery systems that ultimately reduce salinity in the Colorado River.”
Recent studies conducted by Reclamation show that quantified economic damages caused by salinity in the U.S. portion of the Colorado River Basin are estimated be over $400 million and could exceed $500 million per year if additional salinity control measures are not implemented.
“High salinity levels cause a whole host of problems – from reducing farm yields to damaging municipal water systems and household pipes and fixtures,” said Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor. “We are providing a targeted investment to Colorado projects from our Basinwide Salinity Control Program to address these serious issues. These important projects will provide a long-term investment in our water infrastructure and will have the added benefit of creating jobs for the region.”
Four western Colorado irrigation districts are the recipients of this salinity control funding:
Using a formula developed in 2009 by the Council of Economic Advisors to calculate the impact of Federal investment, the four projects are estimated to create about 218 direct and indirect jobs.
The Colorado River and its tributaries provide municipal and industrial water to about 27 million people and irrigation water to nearly four million acres of land in the United States. The river also serves about 2.3 million people and 500,000 acres in Mexico. Salinity is a major concern in both the Unites States and Mexico, affecting agricultural, municipal, and industrial water users. Potential economic impacts from salinity damages on Mexico's portion of the Colorado River Basin have not been quantified.