The Water Conservation Field Services Program completed its first full year of operation at the close of fiscal year 1997. In the four Areas of the Lower Colorado Region, the basic premise of proactive initiative was fully validated by results which yielded both immediate gains and promising future prospects.
REACHING OUT TO WATER USERS
The various WCFSP efforts have in common a commitment to reaching out to water users. Today, instead of constructing water works from concrete and steel, the FSP builds water partnerships from enlightened self interest and common ground.
WCFSP staff in areas of the Lower Colorado Region conducted water planning workshops, trained grade-school teachers in the use of educational software for water conservation, published quarterly newsletters, attended water conservation conferences and water district board meetings, and posted web sites to the Internet. In particular, staff distributed both urban and agricultural water planning guidebooks, and made available software-based planning templates for easier completion of plans.
Financially assisted technical projects included irrigation management demonstrations, water-efficient public restrooms, revegetation of public campgrounds using low-water native plants, planning for an education xeriscape garden, construction of dairy wetlands, mobile lab support, turf grass reduction, automated weather stations for irrigation scheduling, and a diversity of urban water conservation programs.
REAL WATER SAVINGS
The breadth of WCFSP can be said to span the gamut from low flush toilets in the city to low water irrigation methods for flushing salts from desert soils.
Water saved from the various programs included 50 AF/year through efficient irrigation and native vegetation planting at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, 73 AF/year by lining two urban lakes in Phoenix, 7000 AF/year from a better water measurement system for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indians, and 30,000 AF of conserved water from the Urban Water Conservation Agreement with MWD.
The WCFSP performed admirably in meeting its goals for 1997 even while understaffed, with one of the four allotted positions remaining unfilled. The Yuma AO ranked all goal categories as either showing substantial progress or as essentially completed. The Phoenix AO reported all its goals for the year as accomplished. The Southern California AO lagged behind in the review and update of conservation plans, largely due to an unfilled position. The Lower Colorado Regional Area, amidst a staffing transition, registered either substantial progress or full accomplishment of its goals this year.
AREA OFFICE PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
Southern California Area Office:
The Urban Water Conservation partnership with the Metropolitan Water District has saved over 30,000 AF so far. The program has proven that conserved water can be competitive with the price of purchased water. The partnership agreement and funding were extended to September, 1998.
Phoenix Area Office:
Cooperation between Reclamation and the state of Arizona facilitated a considerable increase in water conservation planning participation. PXAO now accepts the rigorous reporting requirements of the Arizona Department of Water Resources in lieu of separate conservation plans, thus bringing 59 of the 69 CAP water users up to standards. Phoenix FSP staff continue to work with ADWR in the establishment of revised standards.
Yuma Area Office:
FSP personnel conducted several well-attended conservation planning meetings, distributing to water users a computer-based water planning form designed for easy completion.
Yuma contributed to putting a mobile lab in service for YAO districts, and helped to implement automated weather stations for Palo Verde, Coachella, and Wellton-Mohawk districts. FSP staff facilitated a number of demonstration efforts, including research in runoff reduction methods, deficit irrigation for alfalfa, and canal automation.
Lower Colorado Regional Office Area:
Over two thirds of the water used in the Las Vegas metropolitan area is devoted to maintaining the appearance of an oasis in the desert. A cooperative agreement with the Southern Nevada Water Authority seeks to cut landscape irrigation by half through best management practices, without sacrificing green amenities.
The turf grass
reduction agreement with SNWA advanced almost halfway toward the eventual
objective of signing up 550 xeriscape conversion sites. The program
goal: savings of 3000 AF/yr, one percent of Nevada's total Colorado
River allocation, at the negligible cost of $17 per AF.