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Success Stories - Lower Susan River Watershed Partnership Project

California Conservation Showcase

December 2010

Lower Susan River Watershed Partnership Project

Through AWEP, NRCS provides support for projects that conserve and improve water quality, use irrigation water efficiently, mitigate the effects of drought and climate change and take other actions that benefit water resources.

The project area is along the lower section of the Susan River in Lassen County.
The project area, along the lower section of the Susan River in Lassen County, was identified after consultation with partners within the watershed.

In 2010, with a partnership formed with the Susan River Watershed group, Honey Lake Valley Resource Conservation District (RCD) applied for the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) to assist private landowners in the lower Susan River on irrigation system improvements, noxious weed treatment and resource restoration. They were awarded $750,000 in FY 2010, with that amount to come for each of the next four years.

The entire project area includes 168,773 acres, of which 24,500 acres is irrigated land. Priority areas for treatment are the 19,500 acres along the Lower Susan River, where practices have the most direct impact on both water quality and groundwater use.

A total of 10 contracts were awarded in FY 2010 for conservation practices on more than 4,650 acres. These AWEP contracts are helping farmers and ranchers in the Lower Susan River watershed conserve water and reduce noxious weeds while improving the stream corridor and food plain. Practices to address water quantity include irrigation water management, sprinkler systems, underground pipelines, and tail water recovery systems. Practices to improve water quality include cover crops, irrigation canals, pest management, and filter strips. NRCS is also providing direct technical assistance in conservation plan development.

In addition to the NRCS resources provided, the partners are providing services to plan and monitor water conservation and regulated water quality issues within the project area. Over the five-year project period (2010-2014) the partnership will contribute nearly $8 million in non-Federal resources and services.

As of December 2010, more than 18,645 feet of high-pressure underground pipeline have been installed to reduce water loss.
As of December 2010, more than 18,645 feet of high-pressure underground pipeline have been installed to reduce water loss, four water control structures have been completed, and 1,329 acres are under contract for irrigation improvement for water savings.

Honey Lake Valley RCD is administering the program, and the Lassen Irrigation Company is monitoring project compliance. The Special Weed Action Team continues to treat noxious weeds in the watershed. The University of California Cooperative Extension is providing on-farm evaluations of irrigation systems, providing recommendations to implement water management according to crop needs. Pheasants Forever, California Waterfowl Association, and Ducks Unlimited are working with landowners on wetland and upland habitat restoration.

The project area is located entirely within Lassen County. The area has been designated a priority waterfowl and wildlife area by the California Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever. In addition, the California Department of Water Resources and Lassen County have designated the watershed as an important Ground Water Basin.

The Susan River Watershed group is focused on improving the Susan River Watershed by improving riparian habitat, removing noxious weeds, and increasing water efficiency and quality within the river corridor and delta. AWEP funds are being used to achieve these goals through conversion of inefficient irrigation systems. Along the stream corridor, AWEP funds are being used to help farmers restore stream channels, treat noxious weeds, and plant more drought tolerant field crops. Also, development of off-site water and establishment of riparian buffers is helping to improve water quality.

Through the project, the partnership hopes to achieve a 25 percent decrease in groundwater consumption and anticipates helping about 90 percent of participating producers to meet State of California water quality permit requirements.

-NRCS-

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