August 9, 2023 — On Monday, the Department of the Interior announced funding opportunities totaling $195 million. These funds, aligned with President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, are allocated for the development of a more resilient water supply, support of cooperative watershed management, and safeguarding of aquatic ecosystems. The investment comes mainly from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s WaterSMART program, 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.
Infrastructure Law’s Role in Water Management.
Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Reclamation is investing $8.3 billion over five years for water infrastructure projects. This includes water purification, reuse, storage and conveyance, desalination, and dam safety. Additionally, the Inflation Reduction Act is investing $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.”
Three funding opportunities were opened on Monday, and an opportunity for aquatic ecosystem projects was extended. Details of each are as follows:
1. Drought Resilience Projects:
Up to $55 million is available for projects increasing water management flexibility. Eligibility and required non-federal cost-share vary by task area.
2. Planning and Design Projects:
Up to $35 million is provided for water management improvement plans and design grants, including drought contingency plans. Eligibility and required non-federal cost-share vary by task area.
3. Cooperative Watershed Management Projects:
Up to $40 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding is offered for collaborative watershed projects. Information about the program can be found on Reclamation’s Cooperative Watershed Management Projects webpage.
4. Aquatic Ecosystems Projects:
An additional $65 million is available for ecosystem restoration projects. The application period is open until January 24, 2024, with a non-federal cost share of at least 35% required. Funding ranges from $500,000 to $2 million for study and design projects and between $3 million and $20 million for construction projects.
Submission Deadlines and Requirements.
Interested applicants for drought resilience, planning and design, and cooperative watershed management should review specific task areas for eligibility and cost-share requirements. For the aquatic ecosystems projects, applications submitted by June 1, 2023, are currently under review, and a new application period is open until January 24, 2024.
The emphasis on these funding opportunities showcases the federal government’s dedication to building resilient communities and protecting the natural environment. The announcement reflects the government’s continued commitment to addressing the pressing water supply and ecosystem challenges of the Western United States.