Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau and other officials announced the administration during a visit Wednesday to the Imperial Dam along the Colorado River in Yuma, Ariz., which will cost more than $8 million to fix the bowls that filter silt, according to the department.
“As we work to address drought and changing climate conditions across the West, these investments in water infrastructure will preserve our aging community water supplies and revitalize water delivery systems,” Beaudreau said in a statement.
Extreme drought has plagued much of the West in recent years, and federal and state officials are calculating how to conserve precious water supplies and the impact on communities forced to cut water. Recent storm surges in California have caused the opposite problems, with widespread flooding of reservoirs, levees and other water-proof infrastructure.
“This winter’s onslaught of devastating storms was just the latest in a long line of whiplash storms in California, which has been overwhelmed and battered by its aging infrastructure,” Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) told reporters Wednesday on a call about the new funding. “And because we know the threat of climate change is an existential threat, we need to be strategic and intentional about how we invest in infrastructure so that extreme weather events reach us more often.”
Federal funding to address water-related issues in the West, with an additional $4 billion allocated to alleviate the effects of the drought as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. Paying farmers to temporarily withhold crops to conserve water. as well as long-term investments in stronger irrigation systems and improvements to canals to reduce the amount of water wasted.
“Unprecedented conditions require new solutions,” said US Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton.
Big-ticket items in the interior repair projects include $43 million to refurbish generators and turbines at the San Luis hydropower plant in Merced County, Calif.; $42 million to replace commutators at California’s Spring Creek Power Facility for pumps that move water from the Trinity River into the Sacramento River; and $66 million for upgrading a fish hatchery on the Trinity River in California.
While much of the funding is focused on rebuilding infrastructure, some is targeted at preventing water pollution. In Idaho, $4 million will go toward six miles of the Boise-area canal to help prevent emissions. Another $4 million is to fix a canal in the Columbia River Basin in Washington state that has been leaking water for many years, according to a list of projects based on the Reclamation project.
The issue of water lost – through evaporation or other forms of waste – has become a central point in the treatment of the Colorado River. Several basin states want to use significant cuts in water use based on evaporation and other losses. California, which lacks that approach the most, has rejected the plan.