Obama Admin releases FY16 budget, requests $1.1B to fund Reclamation water projects

The Obama Administration has released its Fiscal Year 2016 budget, which requests a total of $1.1 billion for water projects under the Bureau of Reclamation for the safety, reliability and efficiency of U.S. water infrastructure, as well as in the conservation, reuse and applied science to address water supply challenges.

Feb 2nd, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 2, 2015 -- Today, the Obama Administration released its Fiscal Year 2016 budget, which requests a total of $1.1 billion for water projects under the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation. The budget will provide robust investments in the safety, reliability and efficiency of America's water infrastructure, as well as in conservation, reuse and applied science measures to address the nation's water supply challenges, especially in the West.

The proposal for Reclamation's Water and Related Resources account of $805.2 million includes $367.4 million for resource management and development activities. This funding provides for planning, construction, water conservation activities, management of Reclamation lands -- including recreation -- and actions to address the impacts of Reclamation projects on fish and wildlife. It also emphasizes reliable water delivery and power generation by requesting $437.7 million to fund operation, maintenance and rehabilitation activities at Reclamation facilities, including dam safety.

The budget emphasizes Reclamation's core mission to address the water demands of a growing population in an environmentally responsible and cost-efficient manner and to assist states, tribes and local entities in solving water resource issues. It also emphasizes the operation and maintenance of Reclamation facilities in a safe, efficient, economic, and reliable manner -- ensuring systems and safety measures are in place to protect the public and the facilities.

Reclamation's funding request addresses Administration, Interior and Reclamation priorities. The budget supports water rights settlements to ensure sufficient resources to address the requirements of legislation passed by Congress to settle litigation. The request includes increases for specific Indian water rights settlements that support the goal of strengthening tribal nations. The FY 2016 budget proposal also balances needs for climate variability adaptation, water conservation, improving infrastructure, sound science to support critical decision making, and ecosystem restoration.

  • Reclamation's Challenges

The extreme and prolonged drought facing the West affects major U.S. river basins in virtually every western state. The effects of the current drought on California water, its agricultural economy and its communities are topics of nationwide concern and extensive media coverage. The Colorado River Basin -- crucial for seven states and several Tribes, in addition to two countries -- is also enduring historic drought. About 33 million people rely on the Colorado River for some, if not all, of their municipal needs.

Reclamation's dams, water conveyances and power generating facilities are critical components of the nation's infrastructure. Protecting and extending the lives of these structures are among the many significant challenges facing the organization over the next several years and beyond. They present major hurdles to achieving progress on water supply confidence, sustainability and resiliency.

Reclamation's water and power projects and activities throughout the Western U.S. are a foundation for essential and safe water supplies, provide renewable hydropower energy and sustain ecosystems that support fish and wildlife, recreation and rural economies (see "Reclamation invests in water, power research in West amid drought"). Climate variability and competing demands are increasingly affecting already-strained systems. Reclamation's FY 2016 budget addresses these challenges and reflects a very deliberate approach to accommodating mission priorities.

  • WaterSMART Program

The President's proposed budget for Reclamation calls for $58.1 million for the WaterSMART Program -- Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow -- to assist communities in optimizing the use of water supplies by improving water management (see "Water management in U.S. improved by WaterSMART programs").

The WaterSMART Program components include: WaterSMART Grants, $23.4 million; Basin Studies Program, $5.2 million; Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program, $20.0 million; Water Conservation Field Service program, $4.2 million; Cooperative Watershed Management program, $250,000; Drought Response program $2.5 million; and Resilient Infrastructure program, $2.5 million.

  • Strengthening Tribal Nations

To meet trust and treaty obligations, Reclamation's budget request makes Indian water rights settlements among the highest priorities. The FY 2016 budget proposes $112.5 million for a new account titled "Indian Water Rights Settlements" to ensure continuity in the construction of four of the authorized projects and to highlight and enhance transparency in handling these funds.

The budget includes $89.7 million for the ongoing Navajo-Gallop Water Supply Project (Title X of Public Law 11-11) (see "Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project launched") as well as $22.8 million to continue implementation of three settlements authorized in the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. These settlements will deliver clean water to the Navajo Nation in New Mexico; Taos Pueblo of New Mexico; Pueblos of Nambe, Pojoaque, San Ildefonsi & Tesuque in New Mexico named in the Aamodt case; and Crow Tribe of Montana.

For a complete list of all Reclamation projects funded under the Administration's Fiscal Year 2016 budget, click here.

See also:

"Reclamation seeking proposals for desalination, water purification research program"

"Reclamation to issue revision of Standard Criteria for Evaluating Water Management Plans"

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