July 31, 2023 — Thursday, the Department of Interior confirmed a $152 million commitment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to six water storage and conveyance projects. This funding aims to provide cleaner and more dependable drinking water to various communities across the Western United States. Projects in California, Colorado, and Washington are on the docket and will potentially increase water storage capacity by at least 1.7 million acre-feet, sufficient to sustain 6.8 million people annually. A feasibility study, which could further improve water storage, is also in the plans.
Funding to improve drinking water supply and climate resilience.
This investment is a key component of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, described as the nation’s largest investment in climate resilience. The scheme is designed to boost Western communities’ resilience against drought and climate change. This includes safeguarding the Colorado River System’s long-term viability. In total, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law plans to invest $8.3 billion over five years into water infrastructure, covering water purification and reuse, water storage and conveyance, desalination, and dam safety. An additional $4.6 billion is to be invested via the Inflation Reduction Act to combat the historic drought.
Secretary Deb Haaland stated, “The Department is harnessing President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to deliver clean, reliable drinking water to families, farmers, and Tribes throughout the West.” This investment will accelerate crucial water storage projects, offering increased water security to Western communities.
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton emphasized that “Water is essential to every community – for feeding families, growing crops, powering agricultural businesses, and sustaining wildlife.” She also pointed out that these projects will expand water storage capacity, build pipelines, and ensure a resilient, reliable, and safe drinking water supply to communities most affected by drought.
Details of selected projects.
The projects chosen for the funding include:
- B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project: The San Luis and Delta-Mendota Authority is to receive $10 million to increase the dam’s storage by approximately 130,000 acre-feet.
- Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Phase II: An additional $10 million will help integrate about 115,000 acre-feet of extra water storage with existing facilities, allowing for the safe diversion, storage, and delivery of Delta water supplies.
- North of Delta Off Stream Storage (Sites Reservoir Project): $30 million will fund the development of off-stream storage capable of holding up to 1.5 million acre-feet of water in the Sacramento River system.
- Arkansas Valley Conduit: This project will continue construction of a safe, long-term water supply to nearly 50,000 people across 39 rural communities along the Arkansas River, with $100 million. Once finished, this project will replace existing radionuclide-contaminated groundwater sources.
- Cle Elum Pool Raise Project: $1 million will be used to increase the reservoir’s capacity by an additional 14,600 acre-feet for fish instream flows.
- Upper Yakima System Storage Feasibility Study: This study, funded with $1 million, will identify and assess storage alternatives within the Kittitas Irrigation District area.
Thursday’s announcement is an addition to the $210 million funding announced last year from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for water storage and conveyance projects.