2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 3:50 PM


LIMBAUGH, Mark, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, Department of the Interior, 1849 C St. N.W, Washington, DC 20240, Mark_Limbaugh@ios.doi.gov

Water is the lifeblood of the American West and the foundation of its economy. It is also the scarcest resource in some of the fastest growing areas of the country. In some parts of the West, existing water supplies are, or will be, inadequate to meet the demands for water for people, cities, farms and the environment, even under normal water supply conditions. Driving this new reality are explosive population growth in Western urban areas, the increasing need for water for environmental and recreational users, and the national importance of food and fiber production from Western farms and ranches. The crises in the Klamath River basin in Oregon and the Middle Rio Grande basin in New Mexico - where farmers, Native Americans, fish and wildlife have all been impacted by water shortages - demonstrate the consequences of failing to resolve the problem of demands for water that exceed the available supply. Water 2025 is the Department of the Interior's answer to getting ahead of these problems and preventing crises and conflict in the West.

Water 2025 focuses the Bureau of Reclamation's financial and technical resources on areas in the West where conflict over water either currently exists or is likely to occur in the coming years. Water 2025 also provides the basis for a public discussion in advance of water crises and sets forth a framework to focus on meeting water supply challenges in the future. This framework includes four key tools to help proactively manage scarce water resources: Water Conservation, Efficiency, and Markets; Collaboration; Technology; and Removing Institutional Barriers and Improving Interagency Cooperation. The Challenge Grant program is the heart of the Water 2025 initiative. Through the Water 2025 Challenge Grant program, Reclamation provides funding on a 50/50 cost share basis to irrigation districts, water districts, tribal water authorities, Western States, and other entities with water delivery authority, for projects focused on water conservation, efficiency, and water marketing. The active partnerships and local solutions achieved through the Water 2025 Challenge Grant program are the cornerstones of the Water 2025 program and actually provide on-the-ground progress toward preventing conflict and crises over water in the Western U.S.