Sprinkler
Sprinklers - Photo courtesy of Kseniia Ilinykh on Unsplash

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the allocation of nearly $310 million in federal funding Thursday to combat drought across the western United States.

Haaland toured the Syphon Reservoir Improvement Project in Irvine on Thursday as part of a two-day California trip that also included a stop in Fresno to discuss water solutions for farmers.

The funding includes $12.3 million to the Coachella Valley Water District, $9.9 million to the city of Oceanside, $12.2 million to the Irvine Ranch Water District, $15.5 million to the Water Replenishment District of Southern California and $10.2 million to the Las Virgenes-Triunfo Joint Powers Authority for various projects that will seek to advance drought resilience.

The 25 projects across the state are expected to increase California’s annual water capacity by 213 acre-feet, which will support more than 850,000 people a year, according to officials.

“Water is essential to everything we do and it will take all of us, working together, to address the significant drought impacts we are seeing across the West,” Haaland said.

Haaland added that the funds, a result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed earlier this year, are “historic investments to address water and drought challenges and invest in our nation’s western water and power infrastructure.”

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton, who also toured the site in Irvine, said that reusing water will help communities facing an unprecedented drought diversity their water supply amid a changing climate.

The funds will help local water agencies stretch their existing water supply and conduct advanced treatment of wastewater along with naturally impaired surface and groundwater in order to meet growing water needs.

“This has tangible impacts and can help feed families, grow crops, sustain wildlife and the environment and help more families access safe, clean, reliable water,” Touton said. “These projects will provide flexibility for communities and help them stretch their current drinking supplies as they will be treating wastewater that continues to be available.”

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