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California Receives $18 Million for Agricultural Water Enhancement Projects
FRESNO, Calif., July 30 2009 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Dave White announced today that 15 organizations in California will receive funding from a new program under the 2008 Farm Bill that will help improve water quality and quantity. The funding is being made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP).

"AWEP is a voluntary conservation initiative that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to improve water conditions on their agricultural land," said White. Nationwide, nearly $58 million will be used to fund 63 AWEP projects in 21 states.

AWEP is a newly-established part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a program administered by NRCS. The difference in AWEP projects is that applications for project funding are made directly to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from an organization on behalf of a group of agricultural producers who intend to make water improvements in a geographic area.

"This is welcome news to the 15 conservation, irrigation, and tribal partners who are working on these projects to help manage California's priceless water resources," said Gayle Norman, Acting NRCS State Conservationist in California.

Applications from individual agricultural producers within a given AWEP project area are ranked according to the conservation resource need. Producers whose applications are selected enter into individual contracts with NRCS.

Approved California AWEP projects are:

    Organization     Project        Description                   2009 Award
    ------------     -------        -----------                   ----------
    Tulare           Tulare         Enhance water supply by
    Irrigation       Irrigation     implementing water
    District         District       quality and quantity
                                    measures. More
                                    efficient irrigation
                                    systems, from high to
                                    low pressure systems           $500,000
    ------          -----------    -----------------------         ---------
    Lava Beds        Lost River     Improve irrigation
    Butte Valley     and Butte      efficiency and nutrient
    & Klamath        Valley         management, restore
    County Soil      Watersheds     wetland habitat (60,000
    and Water                       acres)
    District                                                        $250,000
    -------------    -----------    -----------------------         ---------
    North            Improving      Focus on lowering water
    Cal-Neva         Water          temperature, increasing
    Resource         Quality and    dissolved oxygen, and
    Conservation     Quantity in    reducing amount of
    &                the Upper      nutrients entering the
    Development      Pit River.     Pit River
    Council                                                         $520,000
    -------------    -----------    -----------------------         --------
    Sutter County    Gilsizer       Install 40 high
    Resource         Slough         efficiency irrigation
    Conservation                    systems (50% water
    District                        saving); Adopt nutrient
                                    and pest management
                                    practices for 40
                                    producers; Install 40
                                    vegetative cover crops
                                    and filter strips, etc.       $1,150,000
    -------------    -----------    -----------------------       ----------
    California       Northern       Increase the reliability
    Land             California     of agriculture water
    Stewardship      Wine           supply; Improve stream
    Institute        Country        flow and water quality;
                     Agricultural   Improve water use
                     Water          efficiency, etc.
                     and Water
                     Improvement                                    $500,000
    ----------       ------------   ------------------------        --------
    Coalition For    Northern San   Reduce sedimentation in
    Urban/ Rural     Joaquin        waterways, pesticide
    Environmental    River Water    and nutrient loading,
    Stewardship      Quality        pathogen inputs, and
                     Partnership    conserve water.
                                    Approximately 550,000
                                    acres require
                                    treatment.                    $2,000,000
    -------------    ------------   ------------------------      ----------
    Alameda          Southern       Reduction of
    County           Alameda        contaminants entering
    Resource         Creek Ranch    Calaveras Reservoir,
    Conservation     Water          creeks, streams, and
    District         Quality        San Francisco Bay
                     Project        (64,000 acres, 25
                                    producers)                       $40,000
    -------          ------------   ------------------------         -------
    Western          Western        Improve wastewater
    United           United         utilization systems.
    Dairymen         Dairymen       Reduce potential
                     Project        surface water runoff on
                                    550,000 acres over a
                                    three year period.            $5,800,000
    -------          ------------   ------------------------      ----------
    Westlands        Westlands      Increase seasonal
    Water            Water          application efficiency;
    District         District       Increase distribution
                                    uniformity; Decrease
                                    deep percolation;
                                    Decrease the effects of
                                    soil salinity.                 $2,000,000
    ---------        ------------   ------------------------       ----------
    Yolo County      Yolo County    Increase irrigation
    Resource                        efficiency, decrease
    Conservation                    irrigation runoff,
    District                        sediment delivery, and
                                    improve ground water
                                    quality for
                                    approximately 40,000
                                    acres.                        $1,000,000
    -----------      ------------   ------------------------       ----------
    California       Processing     Improve irrigation
    Association      Tomato         efficiency for 30
    of Resource      Irrigation     producers on
    Conservation     Efficiency     approximately 12,000
    Districts        Program        acres in a 5 year
                                    period.                         $120,187
    ----------       ------------   ------------------------        --------
    Ventura          Irrigation     Evaluate effectiveness
    County           Efficiency     of irrigation systems,
    Resource         Mobile -       uniformity, pump
    Conservation     Implementation efficiency, energy
    District         Rebates        usage, etc.                     $250,000
    -------------    -------------- ----------------------          --------
    Kings River      Kings River    Improve irrigation
    Conservation     Conservation   system efficiency,
    District         District       micro-irrigation, tail
                                    water recovery systems        $1,500,000
    -------------    ------------   ----------------------         ----------
    Hoopa Valley     Hoopa Valley   Upgrade open ditch
    Public           Utilities      transmission lines with
    Utilities        Public         efficient closed pipe
    District and     District       system, install meters
    the Klamath                     (monitoring, leaks)
    District                                                        $638,592
    -------------    ------------   ------------------              --------
    Central Coast    Central        Provide water quality
    Resource         Coast          through reduced runoff
    Conservation     Irrigation     and leaching of
    &                and            nutrients, reduction of
    Development      Nutrient       water usage.
    Council          Management                                   $1,810,322
    -------------    ------------   ------------------------      ----------
    TOTAL                                                        $18,079,101
    -----                                                        -----------

For more information on the project goals and boundaries, contact your local NRCS field office. For a listing of offices statewide see http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=CA


SOURCE USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service
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