Projects Focused on Improving Water Quantity, Quality
Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today announced that two projects in Colorado have been selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to receive $9.8 million through the Agency's new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Bennet helped craft the RCPP program, which was created in the 2014 Farm Bill. The Colorado River District and the Colorado Department of Agriculture are heading up the projects that will focus on improving the availability and quality of water in the region.
"As the headwaters for 20 states, and the lifeblood of Colorado's $40 billion agriculture industry, water from our state is in high demand," Bennet said. "These projects will help Colorado and other states across the West better manage our water resources in the face of increased demand and persistent drought conditions."
The Colorado River District's project in the Lower Gunnison River Basin will harness local innovation in the agricultural and water communities to better manage water resources for farming. The project will work to expand improvements in conveyance, delivery, and on-farm irrigation that are already occurring in the Lower Gunnison sub-basin. In addition to focusing on the management of water resources, the project's partners will use information from a recent Conservation Innovation Grant and national Selenium Soil Interpretation Model to target areas with high selenium. The Lower Gunnison River Basin project was awarded $8 million in funding.
The Colorado Department of Agriculture's project will address water quantity/quality and energy resource concerns in Colorado by facilitating the development of low-impact hydropower on pressurized irrigation systems. The partners plan to make it simple for agricultural producers in Colorado to implement hydropower in their operations. They also aim to convert at least 20 flood irrigation systems to more water-efficient, pressurized irrigation systems with integrated hydropower. The Department of Agriculture's project was awarded $1.8 million in funding.
Bennet, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, helped craft the conservation title of the 2014 Farm Bill, including the creation of the RCPP. He also led efforts with Senator Mark Udall and Representative Scott Tipton urging USDA to designate the Colorado River Basin a Critical Conservation Area, making projects in the region eligible for funding. Last July, Bennet met with local stakeholders in Montrose to hear about the conservation project proposals for the Colorado River Basin.
Click here for more information on the projects selected.
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