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Biden-Harris Administration makes nearly $200M available for drought and climate resiliency

  • Biden-Harris Administration makes nearly $200M available for drought and climate resiliency
    Four funding opportunities through the Investing in America agenda are helping manage water in western basins. Credit: Bureau of Reclamation

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Bureau of Reclamation
Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits.

The Department of the Interior announced up to $195 million in funding opportunities available through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to develop a more resilient water supply, support cooperative watershed management and safeguard aquatic ecosystems. The funds come primarily from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s WaterSMART program, as well as from the Inflation Reduction Act and annual appropriations.

President Biden’s Investing in America agenda represents the largest investment in climate resilience in the nation’s history and is providing much-needed resources to enhance Western communities’ resilience to drought and climate change, including protecting the short- and long-term sustainability of the Colorado River System. Through the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Reclamation is investing a total of $8.3 billion over five years for water infrastructure projects, including water purification and reuse, water storage and conveyance, desalination and dam safety. The Inflation Reduction Act is investing an additional $4.6 billion to address the historic drought.

The announcement comes on the heels of Secretary Deb Haaland’s visit to Riverside, California, last week, where she toured Eastern Municipal Water District, the water provider for nearly 1 million residents who live and work in west Riverside County. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is providing $10 million to the district to support the development of a new water recycling plant.

“In the wake of severe drought conditions throughout the West, the Department is putting funding from President Biden’s Investing America agenda to work to develop resilient water supplies and provide clean flowing waterways for the aquatic species that depend on them,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Today’s funding opportunities will advance local partnerships and invest in innovative solutions to help build resilient communities.”

“These investments from the President’s Investing in America agenda will give our partners an opportunity to increase water management flexibility, build climate resilience and provide restored habitat for fish and wildlife,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “Water supply resilience and flexibility is essential as we work to make Western communities more resilient to the impacts of drought and climate change.”

The Bureau of Reclamation is implementing an overall $1 billion investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for WaterSMART grants to provide financial assistance to water managers to help conserve and use water more efficiently, implement renewable energy projects, investigate and develop water marketing strategies, mitigate conflict risk in areas at a high risk of future water conflict, and accomplish other benefits that contribute to sustainability in the Western United States.

As part of today’s announcement, Reclamation is opening three funding opportunities for drought resilience, planning and design and cooperative watershed management and extending an opportunity for aquatic ecosystem projects.

Drought Resilience Projects

Reclamation is making up to $55 million available in drought resiliency funding to develop projects that can increase water management flexibility. Projects under this funding opportunity are divided into four task areas aimed at infrastructure improvements, groundwater recovery, decision support tools, modeling and measurement and domestic water supply projects for Tribes or disadvantaged communities.

Applicant eligibility and the required non-federal cost-share vary by task area.

Planning and Design Projects

Reclamation is making up to $35 million available for planning and design grants to support water management improvements. This includes funding for water strategy grants to conduct planning and project design activities to improve water supplies and create comprehensive drought contingency plans.

Applicant eligibility and the required non-federal cost-share vary by task area.

Cooperative Watershed Management Projects

Reclamation is offering up to $40 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for collaborative watershed projects under the WaterSMART Cooperative Watershed Management Program. Through this funding opportunity, which has two application periods for funding from this fiscal year and next fiscal year, Reclamation is promoting water reliability and cooperation between stakeholders to reduce conflict, facilitate solutions to complex water issues and stretch limited water supplies.  

This grant will fund establishment of new watershed groups or expansion of existing watershed groups, restoration planning and project design for watershed management projects. This program provides support for local watershed groups to plan and design projects to improve watershed health, benefitting multiple water uses. 

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