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Index to Area Offices
Brief Description of the FSP

FY1998
Field Services Program

Amy Porter
General Background

The Setting
Statutory Mandates
Beneficial Use

The Program

Activities
Environmental Compliance
Area Offices
Goals and Results

LCRO Area FY98 FSP Plan

Location
Water Supply and Users
Problems and Opportunities
Program Needs
FY 98 Plan Chart

 

The Setting

The Bureau of Reclamation's Lower Colorado Region consists of portions of Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, California, and Arizona. Regional and Area Office staff administer Colorado River entitlements amounting to 7.5 million acre-feet (af) annually. Water districts in the Region started developing water conservation plans in 1987. In recent years, Reclamation has facilitated significant water savings in all four areas of the Region by applying various measures, including water metering, canal lining, mobile water laboratories, and public education. In 1995, water users utilized the full 7.5 million af allocation, providing all stakeholders significant incentive for further implementation of prudent water management. The Region contains some of the most intensively irrigated rural acreage and many of the most heavily populated urban settlements on the planet. Considerable opportunities remain for engaging a wide variety of water conservation measures.

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Statutory Mandates

Section 210(a) of the Reclamation Reform Act of 1982 requires the Secretary of Interior to encourage water users to adopt water conservation measures. Section 210(b) requires each water district to develop a water conservation plan. By law, the water conservation plan shall contain definite goals, appropriate water conservation measures, and a time table for meeting water conservation objectives. Section 210(c) directs the Secretary to coordinate with and involve others in water conservation efforts. In addition, part 417 of Title 43, Code of Federal Regulations, directs the Lower Colorado Region to consult with Colorado River water users each year regarding water conservation and the reasonable beneficial use of Colorado River water.

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Beneficial Use

Reclamation determination of reasonable beneficial use is based upon several factors, including climatic conditions, location, land classification, the types of crops raised, cropping practices, the condition of water conveyance facilities, record of ordered water, operating efficiencies and methods, irrigation practices, municipal water requirements, and the pertinent provisions of a contractor's Boulder Canyon Project Act water delivery contract.

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Activities

In order to enhance water conservation efforts, Reclamation has budgeted $800,000 in FY 1998 to implement Water Conservation Field Service Program activities in the Lower Colorado Region. The program will, at a minimum, include activities in the following areas: conservation planning assistance, conservation demonstrations and implementation, and information and education.

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Environmental Compliance

Reclamation will assist districts with development and implementation of effective, environmentally sound water conservation plans and practices in full compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Technical assistance that can be considered general, day-to-day, and limited in scope, will generally fall within an existing Departmental NEPA categorical exclusion covering such routine informational technical assistance activities.

If Reclamation enters into a formal agreement to provide technical or financial assistance in the preparation or implementation of district plans, Reclamation will address the need for specific NEPA compliance and documentation prior to providing such assistance. If Reclamation provides a district with technical assistance to evaluate or demonstrate a water conservation measure, Reclamation will address appropriate NEPA compliance as described above for conservation planning assistance, depending on whether such technical assistance is furnished as a matter of general routine or as an element of a specific agreement.

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Area Offices

Each Lower Colorado Region area office has developed a Field Services Program Plan that will facilitate and verify reasonable beneficial use of Colorado River water. Each area office plan contains the following: priority goals, measures, target dates, agency involvement, cost, Federal employment needed, and results.

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Goals and Results

The goals were developed by publicly soliciting input from stakeholders, then expressing these proposals in an objective, quantifiable and measurable form. Results were defined in a similar manner. For instance, a goal may to be develop five water district conservation plans by April 1998. The quantified results would be the number of water district conservation plans developed by that date. This objectively defined process will allow for uniform measurement of new water conservation practices in each water district and summation of these practices nation wide.

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Location

The Lower Colorado Regional Office Area covers the upper half of the Lower Colorado Region, which includes the Colorado River and tributary areas from Lees Ferry to Davis Dam with the exception of the Little Colorado River drainage. The tributary areas include portions of Utah, southern Nevada, and northwestern Arizona.

Elevations range from 600 feet near Davis Dam, to the mountain peaks of 12,000 feet above mean sea level near Las Vegas, Nevada. The average annual rainfall is very low for the majority of the area ranging from a minimum of 200 millimeters (mm) or less in the lower desert areas to in excess of 800 mm in the mountains.

Vegetation is sparse throughout most of the area due to the low precipitation, consisting mostly of typical desert plants. There are some forest areas; however, they are limited in size and are typically surrounded by desert terrain.

The agricultural farm lands (less than 100,000 acres) within the area are irrigated with tributary flows and are not direct diverters of Colorado River water.

The Las Vegas metropolitan area is the largest municipality within the Lower Colorado Regional Office Area boundaries. This is one of the fastest-growing areas of the United States and has a limited water supply. The majority of Nevada's Colorado River entitlement goes to this area, providing between 80 and 90 percent of its water supply, which is supplemented with local groundwater. Other municipalities including St. George, Utah, and Kingman, Arizona, rely on groundwater and tributary flows to the Colorado River.

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Water Supply and Colorado River Water Users

The majority of the area relies on groundwater and flows that are tributaries to the Colorado River. Southern Nevada is heavily dependent on the Colorado River supply as its primary source of water for municipal and industrial uses. Nevada is limited to a consumptive use of Colorado River water not to exceed 300,000 af per year. Municipalities within southern Nevada also utilize 45,497 af of groundwater each year.

Water users within the area that have contracts with the Secretary of the Interior for Colorado River Water include the following:

In Nevada:

  • Big Bend Water District
  • City of Boulder City
  • City of Henderson
  • City of Las Vegas
  • City of North Las Vegas
  • Las Vegas Valley Water District
  • Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA)
  • National Park Service
  • Basic Management Inc.
  • Pacific Coast Building Products Inc.
  • Nevada Division of Wildlife
  • Nellis Air Force Base

In Arizona:

  • Mohave County Water Users
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Golden Standard Mines
  • Western State Minerals
  • National Park Service
  • McAlister
  • Marble Canyon
  • City of Bullhead City
  • Mohave Water Conservation District

In California:

  • City of Needles

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Problems and Opportunities

The majority of water use in the Lower Colorado Regional Office Area is municipal and industrial with little agricultural use in the tributary areas of the Colorado River. Therefore, the main opportunities will be in providing water conservation ideas, information, and technology associated with urban area uses, with some opportunities to assist irrigation districts with education and technical assistance in water conservation methods.

Drainage Problems in the Las Vegas Valley. A high groundwater table exists in the Las Vegas valley, threatening urban areas which must be controlled by drainage pumping. The high water table is aggravated by landscape irrigation. The prospect of adding new, expensive drainage wells and increasing drainage pumping is being considered.

Other Major Opportunities. Establishing partnership agreements with districts and other water users provides an environment of communication and cooperation where water conservation-related problems can move forward to resolution. Working within existing partnerships with the SNWA is of primary importance in this plan.

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Program Needs

Program 1.H-TA/FA Reclamation has the responsibility under Section 210(a) of the Reclamation Reform Act of 1982 to encourage water conservation. Districts have the responsibility under Section 210(b) to develop water conservation plans. The purpose of this program is to meet with various water users throughout the area to discuss existing water conservation plans and measures, evaluate ways to improve the information in the plans to help manage and budget for water conservation efforts, identify opportunities for water conservation improvements, and facilitate partnership efforts. By working with each district in the Lower Colorado Regional Office Area, listed on the previous page, we can ensure that each plan has been submitted on a timely basis, contains definite water conservation goals, appropriate water conservation measures, and a time schedule for implementation. Reclamation staff are available to provide technical guidance and/or financial assistance with individual water management plans (1 FTE is devoted to Field Services Program activities in the Lower Colorado Regional Office Area).

Program 2.H-TA/FA. The SNWA is the primary entity that maintains the conveyance facilities, administers, and distributes Colorado River water to users throughout southern Nevada. Southern Nevada has a limited water supply with few options for development of additional supplies and is anticipated to have water supply problems in the next 20 years. With the hot, dry climate, about 70 percent of the water supply is used outdoors for landscapes, pools, and decorative purposes. Up to 50 percent of the water applied to outdoor landscaping may be used inefficiently because of poor sprinkler system design, improper timer settings, and poorly designed landscapes. Cooperative Agreement No. 5-FC-30-00440 was executed on August 29, 1995, to fund the xeriscape conversion study. This agreement was modified on September 3, 1997, to supplement the xeriscape program by analyzing the effectiveness of using ground moisture soil sensors or other outdoor watering control devices to limit the water application on landscape irrigation for residential and commercial areas within the Las Vegas valley. This effort will assist the SNWA in determining if an incentive program for moisture sensors or other control devices would be a cost-effective means of conserving water.

Program 3.M-TA/FA. The Lake Mead National Recreation Area (LMNRA) of the National Park Service (NPS) receives more than 900,000 visitors per year. The campgrounds are flood-irrigated, and the primary vegetation in the campgrounds is mainly non-native vegetation (oleanders) which consumes large quantities of water. Reclamation intends to provide assistance in rehabilitating the campgrounds with drought-tolerant vegetation using reclaimed wastewater for irrigation.

Program 4.M-TA/FA. The SNWA is interested in conducting a market survey of the Las Vegas valley in order to implement a horizontal washing machine study. Rebates will be offered to participating SNWA customers in order to measure the water savings achieved by using horizontal washing machines instead of standard washing machines. This activity would assist the SNWA in reaching its overall conservation goal of 13 percent.

Program 5.M-IE. Coalition 2000 is a group composed of many public and private firms, which encourages meeting water conservation goals of the Las Vegas valley via media campaigns and other resources. Reclamation would like to become an active partner in this group to assist with campaigns aimed at public awareness of water conservation efforts.

Program 6.M-IE. The World Wide Web is a practical vehicle through which water conservation information can be made readily available to the public. A Lower Colorado Regional Office Area website will be established to inform the public of current program activities and provide links to other relevant homepages (such as SNWA's) within the area.

Program 7.M-IE. One of the most effective ways to educate the general public on water conservation is to make a positive impression on young people. Hydroexplorer is a computer software program that was developed to help junior high and high school students to learn the importance of and many uses of water in the western United States. It will also help them to understand the many competing interests for water and the need to effectively manage water to satisfy as many of the competing interests as possible.

Program 8.M-IE. Project WET has a well-developed educational program available for students in grades K-12. Reclamation plans to assist Project WET in developing and implementing an advanced educational module for community college students in order to broaden the scope of the educational possibilities of the program.

Program 9.L-IE. The Watercourse Program publishes a magazine entitled Wild Outdoor World which is aimed at educating students ages 8 to 12 in current environmental and conservation issues. Reclamation plans to provide assistance and input to the annual water conservation issue and distribute copies of the periodical to local schools in the Lower Colorado Regional Office Area.

 Program 10.L-IE. Reclamation will provide a presentation and exhibits at the Washington County Water Fair in St. George, Utah. This annual event provides a forum for local fifth grade students to learn about current environmental and resource management issues they will face as adults.

Program 11.L-IE. Reclamation will serve as a sponsor of the annual Water Education Calendar, published by the State of Nevada. Copies of the calendar will be distributed to local schools in the Lower Colorado Regional Office Area.

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Lower Colorado Regional Office Area
Field Services Program Plan

Program Activities

PRIO /CAT

GOALS

MEASURES

DUE
DATE

WHO

COST

FTE

RESULTS


1.H-TA/FA

All districts in LCROA have completed water plans

Meet with all users in area to ensure timely submission of plans

1/98

USBR

1998

Users

$25,000

$25,000

Varies

0.35

Plans contain realistic goals, conservation measures, and schedule for implementation


2.H-TA/FA

Save 1% of Colorado River water used by SNWA

Turf conversion to xeriscape, Reclamation will be recognized as sponsor on all literature and reports on findings.

9/99

USBR

1998

SNWA

$520,000

$20,000

$540,000

0.1

3,000 af/yr saved @ $17.00/af


3.M-TA/FA

Save 5% of Colorado River water being used at Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Provide assistance to NPS with design and installation of efficient landscape irrigation equipment.

9/98

USBR

1998

NPS

$20,000

$20,000

$60,000

0.1

50 af/yr saved


Replace non-native vegetation at campgrounds with native, drought-tolerant plants.

9/99

USBR

NPS

$10,000

$20,000

 

Vegetation replacement at 5 campgrounds in LMNRA


4.M-TA/FA

Save 1% of Colorado River water used by SNWA

Conduct market survey of Las Vegas valley SNWA customers; offer rebate program to customers using horizontal washing machines to measure water savings

8/98

USBR

1998

SNWA

$25,000

$25,000

$25,000

0.1

Achieve conservation goal of 13%


5.M-IE

Public awareness

Become active participant of Coalition 2000

12/97

USBR

1998

$ 5,000

$5,000

0.05

Reach wider audience of water users via campaigns


6.M-IE

Establish website

Establish LCROA website to inform public of current program activities


2/98

USBR

1998

$ 5,000

$5,000

0.05

Educate LCROA water users


7.M-IE

Train 2% of local teachers

Distribute Hydroexplorer software program to local schools to educate 7 to 12 grades on Colorado River issues

2/98

USBR

1998

$ 4,000

$4,000

0.1

Reach 100 schools


8.M-IE

Assist with module

Assist Project WET in development and implementation of an advanced educational module for community college students

3/98

USBR

1998

$ 5,000

$5,000

0.05

Community College of Southern Nevada course


9.L-IE

Sponsor magazine

Provide assistance and input to annual water conservation issue of Wild Outdoor World

4/98

USBR

1998

$5,000

$5,000

0.05

Distribute to 100 local schools


10.L-IE

Participate in water fair

Provide presentation and exhibits at annual Washington County Water Fair

8/98

USBR

1998

$1,000

$1,000

0.025

Educate 400 students in Utah


11.L-IE

Sponsor calendar

Serve as sponsor of annual Water Education Calendar

5/98

USBR

1998

$2,000

$2,000

0.025

Distribute to 20 local schools

 

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