Feds Ready To Give $4 Million In Western Water Grants
The U.S. Interior Department has announced a $4 million Challenge Grant Program to help areas of the West hard hit by chronic water supply shortages to develop conservation and water efficiency projects.
The grants will be awarded in the current fiscal year, which ends September 30, 2004.
“Because of growing populations and heightened competition for limited water supplies, the chronic shortages in many of the West’s watersheds are likely to worsen,” said Interior Secretary Gale Norton. “The goal of these challenge grants is to support realistic, cooperative approaches and tools that have the most likelihood of successfully addressing water challenges in the basins facing the greatest risk.”
The grants program is being funded under the Western Water Initiative, which was proposed by President George W. Bush in his fiscal year 2004 budget request. The initiative was the initial step towards the administration’s Water 2025: Preventing Crises and Conflict in the West, which was announced in June 2003.
Administration officials say Water 2025 will help manage scarce water resources and develop partnerships to nourish a healthy environment and sustain a vibrant economy.
The plan aims to encourage voluntary water banks and other market based measures, promote the use of new technology for water conservation and efficiency, and remove institutional barriers to increase cooperation and collaboration among federal, state, tribal, and private organizations.
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation will be accepting proposals for matching challenge grants from irrigation and water districts that seek to leverage their money and resources to create water markets and make more efficient use of existing water supplies through water conservation and efficiency projects. By law, proposals must have matching non-federal funds of at least 50 percent.
The grants should focus on achieving the goals identified in Water 2025 and the selection process will emphasize projects that can be completed within 24 months and that can reduce future conflicts.
Provided by theEnvironmental News Service.