RIVERSIDE, Calif. -

Federal grants totaling just over $426,000 were awarded to a pair of Riverside County water agencies that will use the funds to offset the costs of conservation projects now underway, it was announced today.

The U.S. Department of Interior provided a $217,000 grant to the Eastern Municipal Water District and a $209,157 grant to the Western Municipal Water District.

The WaterSMART Water & Energy Efficiency grants are part of a $20.8 million disbursal to cover costs tied to 44 projects in 11 states.

"Throughout the west, we're seeing that drought, growing populations, energy demands and basic environmental needs are stressing our finite water and energy supplies," said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. "These WaterSMART grants will help stretch water supplies and improve water and energy efficiencies in communities throughout the west to support sustainable uses of our limited resources."

The Eastern Municipal Water District grant will cover half the cost of installing a high-tech meter data management system that monitors the consumption activity of 70,000 customers who reside in communities stretching from Temecula to Moreno Valley, according to EMWD officials.

The system is expected to contribute to the conservation of 1,890 acre-feet of water annually.

The Western Municipal Water District grant will cover roughly one-third the cost of installing 2,000 high-efficiency flush valves on customers' toilets within the district, which encompasses the Riverside metropolitan area.

According to the WMWD, the project will conserve about 123-acre-feet of water annually.

In both cases, the agencies will have to kick in funds to match the federal allotments.