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Colorado River Salinity Control Program

Colorado River passing through Grand Valley agricultural land.The Colorado River and its tributaries provide municipal and industrial water to about 27 million people and irrigation water to nearly four million acres of land in the United States. The river also serves about 2.3 million people and 500,000 acres in Mexico. The threat of salinity is a major concern in both the Unites States and Mexico. Salinity affects agricultural, municipal, and industrial water users.

The Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act, established in 1974, provided the authorization for enhancing and protecting numerous salinity control projects in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada as well as planning studies in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Wyoming. High levels of salinity in water can reduce crop yields, limit the choice of crops that can be grown, and at higher concentrations over long periods, it can kill trees and make the land unsuitable for agricultural purposes.

Significant salinity control results from the implementation of measures on private agricultural lands. The Bureau of Reclamation's Basin States Program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service’s  Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provide cost-share assistance to landowners who install salinity control measures.

Through strong partnerships between NRCS, private landowners, Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado’s State Conservation Board, and numerous local Conservation Districts, financial and technical assistance funds have been used to install irrigation improvements like installation of pipelines, more efficient irrigation systems and lining of ditches and small laterals.

NRCS accepts applications on an ongoing basis.

Colorado River Salinity Control Monitoring Reports

The Colorado River Salinity Control Program monitoring reports are available for the Grand Valley, Lower Gunnison, McElmo, Mancos Valley, Silt, Debeque and Whitewater Salinity Control units in Colorado; Green River, Muddy Creek, Price San Rafael, Uintah Basin, and Manila-Washam Salinity control units in Utah; and the Big Sandy and Henry’s Fork Salinity Control units in Wyoming.  The monitoring reports are an annual and cumulative progress summary of the funding, contracts, and practice implementation in each of the approved salinity control areas. Monitoring activities include the effects of project implementation to salt loading in the Colorado River, effects to wildlife habitat, and economic data that identifies the cost effectiveness of the program for agricultural producers and the government.

The following documents require Adobe Acrobat.

Salinity Report Archives

The following document requires Microsoft Powerpoint

Additional information about program can be found at NRCS at your local USDA Service Center.