November 15, 2023 — The Department of the Interior announced on Tuesday the allocation of up to $50 million in funding for water conservation and efficiency projects. This initiative is a key component of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, aimed at enhancing the resilience of Western regions to the challenges of drought and climate change.
The funds, sourced from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, are designated to augment the Bureau of Reclamation’s Water and Energy Efficiency Grants Program. This program endorses projects that demonstrate tangible water savings, incorporate renewable energy components, and promote broader resilience and sustainability benefits. The objectives include enhancing water efficiency, increasing renewable energy production, mitigating conflict risks in areas prone to future water scarcity, and achieving other sustainability goals.
Fifth National Climate Assessment.
This announcement coincides with the publication of the Fifth National Climate Assessment, an annual report that evaluates the science of climate change, its impacts, and strategies for risk reduction both in the present and future. It forms part of a larger announcement by the Bureau of Reclamation, which plans to unveil a total of $100 million this week for water infrastructure improvements to advance drought resilience in the Western United States.
Secretary Deb Haaland emphasized the significance of these initiatives: “In response to the severe drought conditions across the West, the Department is mobilizing every available resource and investment, particularly those under President Biden’s Investing America agenda, to fortify community resilience against drought and climate change for future generations. The funding announced today is a step towards implementing innovative solutions in water conservation and climate resilience.”
Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton highlighted the importance of efficient water delivery for drought resilience: “To enhance drought resilience in our communities, it is imperative to adopt measures that ensure efficient water delivery. The Biden-Harris administration’s Investing in America agenda presents a unique opportunity to support these projects, thereby aiding our water users to adapt to future requirements.”
Drought conditions in the West affect a diverse range of communities and sectors, including agriculture, urban areas, Tribes, the environment, recreation, hydropower production, and others. The WaterSMART program by Reclamation offers financial assistance for projects aimed at efficient water usage and other sustainability initiatives in the West.
Investing in America Represents the Largest Investment in Climate Resilience in U.S. History.
President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is noted as the largest investment in climate resilience in U.S. history. It provides essential resources for enhancing the drought and climate change resilience of Western communities. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Reclamation is investing a total of $8.3 billion over five years in water infrastructure projects. These projects focus on repairing aging water delivery systems, securing dams, completing rural water projects, protecting aquatic ecosystems, and fulfilling Indian Water Rights Settlements.
This funding opportunity spans two years, with the first application period concluding in February 2024. Detailed information regarding this grant can be accessed on Grants.gov. The current funding of $50 million is part of a broader allocation of $140 million designated for Water and Energy Efficiency grants in 2023.