Reclamation to invest in solar panel covers for irrigation canals

The Delta-Mendota Canal Floating Solar Project in California along with projects in Oregon and Utah are receiving a $19 million investment to install solar panels over irrigation canals.
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  • $19 Million investment in solar panel projects over irrigation canals to save water and generate clean energy.
  • Locations include California, Oregon, and Utah.
  • Focus on reducing evaporation and boosting renewable energy for drought resistance.
  • Builds on President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.
  • Part of larger water infrastructure investments via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Justice40 Initiative.

April 5, 2024 –– Installing solar panels over irrigation canals is a movement that started in the last couple of years.  In February 2022, California’s Turlock Irrigation District announced its “Project Nexus,” a pilot project to build solar panel canopies over a portion of TID’s existing canals.  In October 2023, Arizona’s Gila River Indian Community announced  that “the Army Corps of Engineers informed the Gila River Indian Community that the Agency is looking to enter into agreements with the Community to fund a pilot project that will bring solar covered canals to the Reservation.” The Community anticipates a 2025 completion date.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is now joining the movement, announcing yesterday a $19 million investment to install solar panels over irrigation canals in three statesOpens in a new tab.: California, Oregon, and Utah. This approach seeks to conserve critical water supplies threatened by evaporation, while simultaneously generating renewable energy.

Officials from the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Reclamation revealed the funding at the Delta-Mendota Canal floating solar project in California. This project alone will receive $15 million. The agency will work with state, Tribal, and local partners to implement this innovative strategy and address the pressing challenges of drought and climate change.

Why Solar Panels Over Canals?

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, installing solar panels over irrigation canalsOpens in a new tab. offers multiple potential benefits:

  • Renewable Energy: Generates clean electricity for local communities.
  • Evaporation Control: Reduces water loss, a serious problem in drought-prone areas.
  • Increased Solar Efficiency: The cooling effect of the water boosts solar panel productivity.
  • Space Savings: Preserves important land for agriculture or open spaces.
  • Reduced Maintenance: Helps to control algae growth and other issues in canals.

The Bigger Picture.

This investment aligns with President Biden’s Investing in America agenda and the focus on climate resilience. It also comes as part of a massive $8.3 billion, five-year effort under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to improve water infrastructure nationwide. The agency emphasizes its commitment to the Justice40 initiative, ensuring disadvantaged communities benefit from these climate-focused investments.

Projects Receiving Funding.

  • Delta-Mendota Canal Floating Solar Project, California ($15 million): Tests the effectiveness of floating solar arrays.
  • Main Canal Floating Photovoltaics Project, Oregon ($2.55 million): Evaluates water conservation and clean energy gains.
  • Solar Panels Over the Layton Canal Project, Utah ($1.5 million): Demonstrates the technical and economic feasibility of canal solar.

The Bureau of Reclamation’s approach offers a promising solution to the twin challenges of water scarcity and the need for more renewable energy in the face of climate change.

Image: The Delta-Mendota Canal Floating Solar Project in California along with projects in Oregon and Utah are receiving a $19 million investment to install solar panels over irrigation canals, via Bureau of Reclamation news releaseOpens in a new tab..


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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