SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The U.S. Interior Department has awarded more than $20 million in grants for water conservation projects in 11 Western states, including several in Utah, Nevada and California.
The WaterSMART grants announced Wednesday will fund a total of 44 projects, including a plan to convert earthen irrigation canals in Utah by lining them or converting them to pipelines and the Southern Nevada Water Authority's landscape rebate program that provides homeowners incentives to convert their grass lawns to water-efficient landscaping more suitable to the desert.
The Las Vegas-based water authority was awarded a $300,000 grant toward a $3.3 million effort to expand its existing rebate program that is expected to result in the replacement of 2.6 million square feet of thirsty turf. It should result in a savings of 448 acre feet of water annually in the Colorado River, which provides supplies for southern Nevada, California and Arizona.
The Interior Department's Bureau of Reclamation estimates the grants will save more than 100,000 acre feet of water annually — enough to supply 400,000 people.
"Throughout the West, we're seeing that drought, growing populations, energy demands and basic environmental needs are stressing our finite water and energy supplies," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in announcing the grants
"These WaterSMART grants will help stretch water supplies and improve water and energy efficiencies in communities throughout the West to support sustainable uses of our limited resources," she said.
Utah's six projects were second only to California's 10.
Utah's Fremont Irrigation Co., Cub River Irrigation Co. and Weber Basin Water Conservancy District each were awarded $1.5 million to help with efficiency projects on their canals.
Fremont Irrigation is spending $8.2 million overall on about 6 miles of new pipeline planned in southern Utah to help prevent seepage and evaporation. Cub River is doing the same with 6.5 miles of ditches in northern Utah's Middle Ditch Water Conservation District at a cost of $4 million.
Weber Basin has a $3.2 million plan to line approximately 2,900 feet of the Willard Canal in Layton.
The Strawberry Highlight Canal Company in Payson is getting a pair of $300,000 grants — one for its Lateral 31 Pipe Conversion project with about 4,000 feet of new pipeline and one to replace 3.5 miles of the open Genola canal system with 1.75 miles of new pipeline using a more direct delivery route. Those two projects combined are expected to cost nearly $1.5 million.
Northern Utah's Wellsville-Mendon Conservation District gets $183,000 for its $370,000 plan to line 2,250 feet of the Wellsville-Mendon Canal with rubber membrane and convert 1,800 feet of the Pump Canal to pipe.
California's biggest grants were $1.5 million for the Patterson Irrigation District to install three new pump stations and 3.7 miles of new pipeline in the San Joaquin Valley, and more than $1.4 million for the North Yuba Water District's $3.2 million plan to pipe the entire length of the 10-mile Upper Forbestown Canal in Northern California.
Grant recipients are required to provide at least a 50-percent funding match.