California desert water agencies win $100 million in U.S. funding for aging dams, canals

Southern California desert water districts with aging or failing infrastructure won big federal funding on Monday, with more than $100 million allocated for major dam and irrigation canal upgrades that will benefit the Coachella Valley and Imperial County.

The projects are part of $240 million awarded from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds by the U.S. Department of the Interior, reports 

Among the biggest beneficiaries is the Coachella Valley Water District, which will get $60 million for lateral replacement irrigation pipelines and more for work on the Coachella Canal. Nearly 60,000 irrigated acres of fruits and vegetables and forage crops with a value of $574 million were produced last year in the region, according to CVWD's annual agricultural report. Clean, reliable water piped in from the Colorado River system is essential for those crops.

“As western communities face growing challenges accessing water in the wake of record drought, these investments in our aging water infrastructure will safeguard community water supplies and revitalize water delivery systems,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a news release.

CVWD's entire distribution system off of the Coachella branch of the All-American Canal is pipeline buried underground, and the funds will pay for replacement pipelines for irrigation.  

In a news release, Interior officials said CVWD had been "proactive" in identifying critical capital projects in the area. "Without timely replacement, meeting water deliveries could be completely jeopardized due to lack of redundancy in the system's design," the Interior Department officials said. "These projects have been designed and are shovel-ready. They will mitigate existing failures, provide more durable materials, and reduce losses due to the age of the system."

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