WaterPro/Draper Irrigation has received a $300,000 WaterSMART Grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to help us advance toward our goal of installing meters on all our pressure irrigation (PI) connections.
According to the Bureau of Reclamation’s website, “WaterSMART grants (formerly Challenge Grants) provide 50/50 cost share funding to irrigation and water districts, Tribes, States, and other entities with water or power delivery authority. Projects should seek to conserve and use water more efficiently, increase the use of renewable energy, protect endangered species, or facilitate water markets. Projects are selected through a competitive process and the focus is on projects that can be completed within 24 months that will help sustainable water supplies in the western United States.”
This grant allows us to leverage our own funds to install some 395 additional meters (or possibly more) within the next year or so. This represents about 10% of our total PI connections. With the 500 meters we have installed already, the total meters installed will total nearly 900 by next year.
Metering our PI system is an ongoing multiyear project, and we will apply for grants in future years to help offset the costs. We feel strongly that metering our system, rather than continuing to bill a flat rate based on acreage, will encourage water conservation and be fairer to all our customers.
What to Expect
Our crews will begin installing new meters as soon as their work flow allows. However, we do not have the staff to install all the meters so we solicited bids in January for a contractor to install additional meters. We expect to award the contract and have the contractor begin work sometime in March, weather permitting.
If you have a new PI meter installed on your property, you will continue to be billed at the old flat rate for the rest of 2018 but your bill will also show the amount you would be billed under the metering system. Beginning in 2019, you will be billed for the metered amount.
If you are one of the customers who pay less under metering, congratulations! However, if you see that your billing will go up under metering, the grace period until January 2019 gives you a chance to assess your watering practices and determine if there are ways you can use less water, either by watering less frequently or for shorter periods, or by changing your landscaping to require less water.