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  Coachella To Pore
Over Water Use

A water audit for the record books: The Coachella Valley Water District is raising the bar on resource accountability. Over the next six years, CVWD will collect and scrutinize water use and management data from every farm in the district over 40 acres. Initial results will be open for public review in 1998.

Could the residents of a city keep such a close account of their water habits? Even though farmers are fewer in number than city dwellers, agriculture consumes the greater proportion of Colorado River water. As urban areas clamor for a bigger share of water supplies (even as city folks insist on affordable food), the stakes are high and rising.

PROACTIVE PROGRAM

A contracted private consultant is harvesting the data for CVWD in a manner that assures individual confidentiality. No water users will be identified. A steering committee of CVWD farmers provides executive guidance.

The point of the proactive program: To demonstrate the beneficial use of water in the Coachella Valley Water District, and to assure continual improvement. Even though participation is voluntary, nearly all CVWD farmers are cooperating enthusiastically.

RECLAMATION A PARTNER

Reclamation is serving as an observer and advisor, in the tradition of the CVWD-USBR partnership. The survey will form the basis for meeting the Bureau's "reasonable and beneficial use" requirement for water provided by Reclamation. Such a determination becomes especially important during drought years when the demand for Colorado River water exceeds supply.

And the survey effort promises to be thorough, including interviews with ranch operators and irrigation foremen, as well as detailed measurements of application uniformity for each field.

INVEST IN DATA AND PLANNING

"Data is very important where water is concerned," says Mark Niblack, Water Conservation Specialist for the Yuma Area Office. "Water conservation is driven by data. A small investment in good data and smart planning can prevent enormous amounts of misspent resources."

"CVWD, in partnership with the USBR, understands the importance of good data and is making a wise investment in the future of its agricultural economy."