Department Of Interior

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Office Of The Secretary
Frank Quimby, 202-208-6416

For Immediate Release, Jan. 27, 2004
Kip White, 202-513-0684

President Calls for $21 Million to Help Western
Communities Avoid Water Supply Crises

Secretary Norton Unveils Water 2025 Budget Proposal


(WASHINGTON) - President Bush's Fiscal Year 2005 budget calls for $21 million in Water 2025 funds to help western communities to develop conservation, efficiency and water-marketing projects and avoid future water supply crises, Interior Secretary Gale Norton said today.

"Water 2025 grants, when matched with state, local and private sector funds, can foster practical, community-based solutions to the water supply crises facing many western areas," Norton said. "The initiative invests in conservation projects, water-saving technologies for irrigation systems, desalination research, and strategies to improve water management, including water banks and water-marketing systems."

The President's proposal is an increase of $13.4 million over Western Water Initiative funds enacted in FY 2004, which include $4 million in challenge grants and $3 million for water improvement technology.

Norton launched Water 2025: Preventing Crises and Conflict in the West last year. The initiative supports realistic, cooperative planning approaches and tools that have the most likelihood of successfully addressing water supply challenges in basins facing the greatest potential risk. The program calls for concentrating existing federal financial and technical resources in key western watersheds and in critical research and development efforts that will help to predict, prevent and alleviate water supply conflicts.

The proposal received an overwhelmingly positive reception in a series of nine consulting conferences in major western cities. More than 3,000 people, including state, tribal, agricultural, environmental, and water officials, joined the discussions.

"The response to Interior's Water 2025 proposal confirms my belief that a new generation of western leaders, tempered by past water wars and mindful of the harsh realities facing their communities, is ready to embrace a different paradigm for meeting the region's 21st century water needs," Norton said. "The President's budget proposal underscores his commitment to help western communities address the future water supply needs of growing populations, local businesses and farm economies - while fulfilling our tribal responsibilities and the needs of a healthy environment."

"Chronic water supply problems will continue to challenge the West in the coming decades, and crisis management is not an effective solution for addressing these long-term, systemic problems," Norton explained. "Recent crises in the Klamath and Middle Rio Grande River Basins--where American Indians, farmers, urban residents and fish and wildlife have been affected by water shortages-vividly demonstrate the consequences of failing to strategically address the problem of competing demands for a finite water supply."


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