Interior invests $403M for water infrastructure, drought resilience

Feb. 21, 2023
The Department of the Interior is investing $278 for rural water projects and $125 million to relaunch the System Conservation Pilot Program in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

The Department of the Interior has announced that it is investing $403 million for water supply reliability and water conservation projects in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, seven authorized rural water projects under construction in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota will receive $278 million. These investments build on the allocation of $420 million for rural water construction activities in fiscal year 2022.

The funding is helping projects complete construction of water treatment plants and intakes, supporting work related to pipeline connections, pump systems, and reservoir construction, and advancing other efforts to provide potable water to rural and Tribal communities.

The Bureau of Reclamation is also making available up to $125 million to support the relaunch of a System Conservation Pilot Program in the Upper Colorado River Basin. The renewed program – funded with an initial allocation through the Inflation Reduction Act – will help support water management and conservation efforts to improve water efficiency and ultimately protect the short-term sustainability of the Colorado River System.

“The Bureau of Reclamation is committed to ensuring the continued availability of water across the West, while at the same time enhancing the resiliency of our communities to a changing climate. As we move forward with these urgent priorities, we are doing so in close collaboration with Basin states, Tribes, water managers, farmers, irrigators, and other stakeholders,” said Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “This historic funding underscores how proactive efforts from the Biden-Harris administration are helping increase water efficiency and conservation across the West.”

Overall, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides Reclamation with $8.3 billion over five years for water infrastructure projects to advance drought resilience and expand access to clean water for families, farmers, and wildlife. The Inflation Reduction Act is investing an additional $4.6 billion to address the worsening drought crisis.

Rural Water Projects

Funding in fiscal year 2023 from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will enable advances of rural water systems and associated features:

  • $77.56 million for the Rocky Boys / North Central Montana Rural Water System in Montana for core pipeline construction on segments 7 and 8, continued construction progress of a water treatment plant, as well as construction for segments associated with Havre, Chester and Shelby Hub service areas.
  • $62.11 million for the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System in New Mexico for the construction of approximately 26 miles of raw water transmission pipeline.
  • $60 million for the Lewis & Clark Rural Water System in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota to support a water treatment plant, construction associated with the Sibley service area, and to reimburse states for related costs.
  • $26.33 million for the Garrison-Diversion Unit of the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program in North Dakota for efforts associated with construction of water treatment plants, as well as efforts to support service on the Spirit Lake, Standing Rock and Fort Berthold Reservations.
  • $25 million for the recently authorized Musselshell-Judith Rural Water System in Montana for substantial completion of phases 3 and 4 of rural water construction activities.
  • $15 million for the Fort Peck Reservation – Dry Prairie Rural Water System in Montana to support substantial completion of the project.
  • $12 million for the Jicarilla Apache Rural Water System in New Mexico to support progress toward water treatment plant upgrades.

Detailed information on the fiscal year 2023 spend plan is available on Reclamation’s website.

Upper Basin System Conservation Pilot Program

Up to $125 million in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act will enable Reclamation, in partnership with the Upper Colorado River Commission, to immediately move forward to implement the System Conservation Pilot Program.

From 2015 to 2018, the Upper Basin System Conservation Pilot Program successfully tested new approaches to conserve water on the Colorado River and proved that these measures are an effective approach to temporarily increase water efficiency and mitigate the impacts of drought.

The program is cooperatively managed by Reclamation and the Upper Division States of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming acting through the Upper Colorado River Commission.

More about the implementation of the 2023 System Conservation Pilot Program can be found on the Upper Colorado River Commission website.

Investments from the Consolidated Appropriations Act:

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 provides an additional $325 million in funding for work in five categories within the Water and Related Resources account, including:

  • Over $229 million for Water Conservation and Delivery;
  • $50 million for Rural Water;
  • $31 million for Environmental Restoration or Compliance;
  • $11 million for Fish Passage and Fish Screens; and
  • $4 million for Facilities Operation, Maintenance, and Rehabilitation.

This funding will go to construction and preconstruction activities where environmental compliance has been completed and the project will improve water supply reliability, improve water deliveries, enhance economic development, promote job growth, advance Tribal and non-Tribal water studies and activities or address critical backlog maintenance and rehabilitation activities.

More information on this funding can be found in Reclamation’s Fiscal Year 2023 Distribution of Additional Funds for Ongoing Work list.