Federal Grants Enable California Water Conservation Efforts

Kristie Brown
October 12, 2012 — 1,190 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

It seems like the government, at long last, is finally getting the message that states are hurting due to a lack of the natural resources needed for survival. Uppermost among these resources is clean, fresh water, and Californians have been suffering from the depletion of this commodity for decades. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency which administers grants, has given four conservation organizations in California $2 million to work on its water issues as well as other projects that are supposed to "spur creativity and problem-solving on California's farms and ranches", per Jeff Burwell, acting state conservationist.

Some of the grant money will be going to fund a new project that just started this year. It has to do with water quality trading markets and will specifically allow for a designated trade. The Sotoyome Resource Conservation District, based in Santa Rosa, CA, will fund conservation practices in the area using $570,000 in grant monies in exchange for the nitrogen that is garnered from treating wastewater discharge that includes farm run-off. The treated wastewater from the treatment facility is already being recycled to geothermal companies who provide ecologically-sound heating and cooling to homeowners and businesses, so the conservation efforts are far-reaching, and the money is being well spent.

The Santa Rosa district project is proving to be a good opportunity to bring together both urban and rural residents in order to deal with conservation issues. Now that they have the funding they need, they are able to address water quality problems, such as the reduction of sediment and manure management. At the same time, the projects that improve water quality will help farmers improve their cropland, the way their farms operate, and, thus, the quality of their lives.

Other funds will also be directed to the state of California as a part of their Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Recipients include governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as Indian tribes which are recognized by the federal government. These additional projects include the receipt of $330,000 by the Regents of the University of California who will use the funds to create more beneficial habitats for native bees, $500,000 by Sustainable Conservation which will remove the nitrogen from a lagoon at a commercial dairy, and $1 million by the Xerces Society for conservation-effectiveness programs. All of these grants were announced by the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack.



Kristie Brown