Funding announced for drought and clean drinking water

During a two-day tour of California on Thursday morning, US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland toured the Siphon Reservoir Improvement Project in Irvine before offering federal funding that will help the drought-stricken state.

Along with Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and US Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton, Haaland said she was “over the moon” when she announced the Home Department’s plan to spend more than $310 million for the To combat a “megadrought” the West is being made worse by climate change.

Funding for 25 select projects, mostly in California, comes from the bipartisan infrastructure bill President Biden signed into law last year. It provided $8.3 billion to the Bureau of Reclamation for water infrastructure projects.

“These projects will improve drought resilience by strengthening water reuse and recycling techniques while helping over 850,000 people provide clean, reliable drinking water to families across the west,” Haaland said.

Haaland’s announcement came a week after Gov. Gavin Newsom warned that California could lose 10% of its water supply by 2040 due to an increase in water recycling capacity.

The Irvine Ranch Water District’s Siphon Reservoir Improvement Project, which aims to store enough recycled water to meet future needs, is set to receive $12.2 million from the Department of the Interior. The district serves 500,000 customers.

Porter called the Irvine Ranch Water District a “national leader” in efforts to conserve and expand water supplies. She welcomed the allocation of funds announced by her former congress colleague.

“The longer we wait to act,” Porter said, “the harder and more expensive it will be to solve both the water crisis and climate change.”

Paul Cook, general manager of the Irvine Ranch Water District, described the project as a major undertaking that would require four years of construction before being completed by 2028.

California, one of seven states that depend on the shrinking Colorado River for water, has not yet been asked by the Bureau of Reclamation to reduce its water use.

But with the drought expected to continue, many of the projects that Home Office funds are set to support will not operate for years.

Wade Crowfoot, California Secretary of Natural Resources, noted at the press conference that Newsom has urged state residents to reduce their water use in the meantime. He said the Californians were making progress despite “some slow starts.” In July, he said, residents reduced water use by “more than 10%” compared to 2020 — the first year of the drought.

Asked by reporters how close California is to mandatory nationwide cuts, Crowfoot acknowledged that “all options are on the table.”

The Home Department announcement also followed Biden’s signing into law to reduce inflation, which was praised by officials at the Irvine news conference. The legislation includes $4 billion to address the water crisis along the Colorado River.

Haaland touted both laws as the “largest investments in drought resilience” in the country’s history.

“Water is essential to everything we do,” Haaland said. “None of us can live without her. It fuels our economy, sustains our environment and, quite frankly, keeps us alive.” Funding announced for drought and clean drinking water

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