WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Bureau of Reclamation, an agency of the Department of the Interior, has awarded an $869,664 contract to Au’Authum Ki, Inc., a small business from Chandler, Ariz., under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Under this award, Au’Authum Ki will demolish approximately 230 feet of existing canal including radial gate sections and vertical walled channel on the Yuma Desalting Plant’s Main Outlet Drain Extension, which carries agricultural drainage water to the desalting plant and past it to the plant’s bypass drain in Mexico.  These sections will be replaced with stainless steel gates and lined channel sections.  A power distribution and flow metering systems will also be installed to operate the new gates.  The work is being conducted about 2 miles south of the Desalting Plant, near Yuma County 8th Street and Levee Road, in Yuma County, Ariz.

“These upgrades will enhance the Yuma Desalting Plant’s ability to improve water quality, while also returning flows to the Colorado River for water deliveries to Mexico,” said Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor. “Water conservation improvement projects such as these are critical to improving the Colorado River Basin’s drought situation.”

On April 28, the Department of the Interior, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Southern Nevada Water Authority and Central Arizona Water Conservation District signed an agreement to cooperate on a pilot run of the Yuma Desalting Plant.

By the requests of the municipal agencies, Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation is conducting the pilot run to better understand its operational readiness and potential as a long-term resource to help conserve Colorado River water.

The YDP Pilot Run began officially on May 3.  “Over the next year with the plant operating at up to one-third capacity, we will produce a total of 21,700 acre-feet of desalted water,” Connor said.  This water will be combined with 7,300 acre-feet of untreated irrigation drainage water blend and the total amount – 29,000 acre-feet – will be discharged into the Colorado River and included in Treaty deliveries to Mexico. The pilot run will allow savings of about 30,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Mead that otherwise would have been released as part of required deliveries to Mexico.

Au’ Authum Ki, Inc. is a 100 percent Native American, woman-owned, full-service commercial construction company. It was founded in 1992 by Margaret Rodriguez a member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed last year gave $3 billion to the Department of the Interior.

The ARRA funds represent an important component of the President’s plan to jumpstart the economy and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so the country can thrive in the 21st century.  Under the ARRA, Interior is making an investment in conserving America’s timeless treasures – our stunning natural landscapes, our monuments to liberty, the icons of our culture and heritage – while helping American families and their communities prosper again. Interior is also focusing on renewable energy projects, the needs of American Indians, employing youth and promoting community service.

“With its investments of Recovery Act funds, the Department of the Interior and its bureaus are putting people to work today to make improvements that will benefit the environment and the region for many years to come,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said.

Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department’s economic recovery projects. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on www.recovery.gov and on www.interior.gov/recovery. Secretary Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force to work closely with Interior’s Inspector General and ensure the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency set by President Obama.

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