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The Interior Dept.'s Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a $98.3-million contract to build a new reservoir in southern California near the Arizona border to a team of Ames Construction Inc., Phoenix, and Coffman Specialties Inc., San Diego. The project's total cost is $172 million.

Regional water agencies are financing the project and will get shares of the water. The Southern Nevada Water Authority will pay $114.7 million--two-thirds of the total cost--and receive 400,000 acre feet of water through 2036. California's Metropolitan Water District (MWD) and the Central Arizona Water Conservancy District each will contribute $28.7 million, and get 100,000 acre ft. apiece, according to MWD.

The contract, awarded on Aug. 20, is one of the bureau's largest in recent years. Its main item is construction of an 8,000-acre-foot reservoir for lower Colorado River water that now flows downstream from Imperial Dam. The contract also includes an inlet from the All-American Canal to the reservoir and an outlet linking the reservoir to the canal. The project is expected to be finished by Aug. 31, 2010.

The site is on Interstate-8, about 30 miles east of El Centro, Calif., and 25 miles west of Yuma, Ariz.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said the project involved international negotiations and work among federal and state officials as well as local water districts. He said it "will help to ensure efficient and effective water management, benefiting water users by allowing them to capture for future use Colorado River water that would otherwise be lost."