CVWD Receives Federal Grants for Conservation Programs

By: Chloe Morales

Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) is utilizing two federal grants to expand one of its most effective water conservation programs and also enlarge its nonpotable water delivery infrastructure, preserving precious groundwater and alleviating aquifer overdraft.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) has awarded CVWD a $1 million WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency grant to help finance rebates for the removal of turf that is replaced with drought-tolerant, low water-use desert landscaping at golf courses.

CVWD has budgeted $6 million of its own money for turf replacement rebates at residences, businesses and homeowners associations. Golf course turf removal rebates are available when the district receives the state or federal grants needed to fund them.

“Using grant dollars leveraged with our own program funding helps us to expand our conservation programs quickly and responsibly,” said CVWD General Manager Jim Barrett. “Funding such as this assists us in our on-going, 100-year efforts to manage the Coachella Valley’s water supplies.”

The turf replacement project is expected to result in the removal of nearly 11.3 million square feet (almost 260 acres) of turf. It is anticipated that approximately 1,750 acre-feet of water (525 million gallons) will be saved annually. This grant also is meant to achieve energy efficiency through reduced groundwater pumping. The turf removal is expected to save more than 1 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually.

Reclamation has also awarded CVWD a $300,000 Drought Resiliency Project grant to help offset the costs of a pipeline and pump station that will enhance the district’s ability to deliver Colorado River water to the Bermuda Dunes area. The new infrastructure will make it possible to annually bring more than 1,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water to Bermuda Dunes for irrigation purposes, reducing groundwater pumping by a like amount.

Total project cost is nearly $4.1 million. In 2014, CVWD was awarded $1 million in Proposition 84 funds by the state Department of Water Resources for this project.
Conservation programs such as turf removal rebates and substituting nonpotable water for groundwater for irrigation are identified in the Coachella Valley Water Management Plan as effective ways to efficiently manage the Coachella Valley’s various water souurces.

CVWD began offering residential and commercial turf removal rebates in July 2009. Rebates have been awarded to almost 3,775 CVWD customers. This has resulted in the removal of more than 11 million square feet (more than 267 acres) of turf. As a result an estimated 4,710 acre-feet of groundwater is conserved annually.

A special program for golf courses began in January 2015 and nearly $998,000 has been paid to 14 golf courses for the removal of more than 4 million square feet (94 acres) of turf. This translates to annual savings of an estimated 580 acre-feet of groundwater.

In June, the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture announced more than $47 million in grant funding for 76 projects to help water districts and private landowners to better conserve water resources.

The Department of Interior funding is made available through competitive grant programs, which are part of the WaterSMART sustainable water initiative. The grants and selection process are managed by Reclamation, which is the nation’s largest wholesale water supplier, providing one in five western farmers with irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland and potable water to more than 31 million Americans across 17 western states. More information about WaterSMART is available online.

WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants can be used for projects that conserve and use water more efficiently, increase the use of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, benefit endangered and threatened species, carry out activities to address climate-related impacts on water, or prevent any water-related crisis or conflict.

The Coachella Valley Water District is a public agency governed by a five-member board of directors. The district provides domestic and irrigation water, agricultural drainage, wastewater treatment and reclamation services, regional storm water protection, groundwater management and water conservation. It serves approximately 108,000 residential and business customers across 1,000 square miles, located primarily in Riverside County, but also in portions of Imperial and San Diego counties.

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