DOI Announces Water Resilience Funding

Monday, August 7, 2023

Executive Summary:

  • $195 million to develop resilient water supply, support cooperative watershed management, and protect aquatic ecosystems.
  • Main sources: WaterSMART program from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and annual appropriations.
  • $8.3 billion invested over five years for water infrastructure from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
  • Inflation Reduction Act contributes an additional $4.6 billion for historic drought.
  • Three new funding opportunities announced for drought resilience, planning and design, and cooperative watershed management.
  • Drought Resilience Projects: $55 million for projects improving water management flexibility.
  • Planning and Design Projects: $35 million for water management improvements and drought contingency plans.
  • Cooperative Watershed Management Projects: $40 million for collaborative watershed projects.
  • Aquatic Ecosystems Projects: Additional $65 million for restoring and protecting aquatic ecosystems, open until January 24, 2024.

Unedited Press Release Text:

Biden-Harris Administration Makes Nearly $200 Million Available for Drought and Climate Resiliency Projects as Part of Investing in America Agenda

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today 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 SecretaryDeb 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. For more information on the Program visit Reclamation’s Cooperative Watershed Management Projects webpage.

Aquatic Ecosystems Projects

Reclamation is making an additional $65 million available for projects to restore and protect aquatic ecosystems through a second application period open until January 24, 2024. Funding from this opportunity is part of a total $95 million to support the study, design and construction of ecosystem restoration projects that restore cleaner, colder and more available water to ecosystems with benefits for fisheries, wildlife and aquatic habitat and improved fish passage.Study and design projects are eligible for between $500,000 and $2 million, and construction projects can receive between $3 million and $20 million. A non-federal cost share of at least 35% is required. Applications submitted by the close of the first application period on June 1, 2023, are now under review.Learn more about this and other funding opportunities at Reclamation’s WaterSMART webpage.



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