Colorado River States Get $19.5 Million For Salinity Control
Colorado, Utah and Wyoming will receive $19.5 million in Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funding to control salinity in the Colorado River Basin, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Monday.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide $9.7 million to both Colorado and Utah and $90,000 to Wyoming. Only these three states have USDA approved salinity control projects in the basin.
The Colorado River Basin is the primary domestic water supply source for 27 million residents in seven states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming – and a source of irrigation water for more than 3.5 million acres of farmland.
“These funds will help farmers and ranchers control salinity on their lands and improve water quality in the basin so that millions of people can have a cleaner, safer domestic water supply,” Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said.
Application of irrigation water to the land results in the addition of soluble salts such as sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfate, and chloride dissolved from geologic materials with which the waters have been in contact.
Salts dissolved in Colorado River water cause over $300 million in damages each year, the USDA estimates.
Through EQIP, the Natural Resources Conservation Service works with eligible agricultural producers in the basin who implement land management and irrigation improvement practices that reduce salinity by preventing salts from dissolving and mixing with the river’s flow.
Improved irrigation systems reduce leaching in the soil which, in turn, reduces the amount of salt that moves through the soil into the water table. The end result is that less salt ends up in the Colorado River, flowing more than 1,400 miles from its headwaters in Wyoming and Colorado to the Gulf of California in Mexico.
USDA partners with the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Land Management to carry out Colorado River Basin salinity control activities. The Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Forum, established in 1973 by the basin states, provides interstate and interagency coordination and guidance for the combined state and federal salinity control efforts.
For every dollar of EQIP funds allocated to salinity control in the authorized project areas, 43 cents is made available from accounts in BR’s basin states for on-farm financial and technical assistance.
USDA aims to reduce the salt loading by 705,000 tons by the year 2020. So far, agricultural producers have reduced over 404,000 tons of salt or nearly 57 percent of the USDA goal. The overall goal for the federal partners is to reduce 1.8 million tons of salt annually by the year 2020.
Provided by the Environmental News Service.