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March 17, 2020
Bureau of Reclamation: FY2021 Appropriations
years of appropriations levels for Reclamation compared
Most of the large dams and water diversion structures in the
with the FY2021 President’s budget request.
17 states west of the Mississippi River were built by, or
with the assistance of, the Bureau of Reclamation
Figure 1. Reclamation Appropriations by Account,
(Reclamation), part of the Department of the Interior.
FY2015-FY2020, and the FY2021 Budget Request
Reclamation’s original mission was to develop water
(nominal $ in millions)
supplies, primarily for irrigation to reclaim arid lands in the
West. Today, its mission includes management,
development, and protection of water and related resources.
Reclamation’s mission areas and geographic scope are
generally narrower than those of the other principal federal
water resource agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Reclamation manages hundreds of water storage and
conveyance projects. These projects provide water to
approximately 10 million acres of farmland and 31 million
people. Reclamation is the largest wholesale supplier of
water in the 17 states west of the Mississippi River and the
second-largest hydroelectric power producer in the nation.
Reclamation facilities’ operations can be controversial,
particularly in relation to effects on fish and wildlife species
and conflicts among competing water users.
Reclamation’s role has evolved, and its focus has gradually
shifted from construction of new water storage projects to

Source: CRS, based on Reclamation’s FY2021 budget request and
operation and maintenance of existing projects.
enacted appropriations data.
Reclamation also has expanded into new areas, including
funding for water supply projects on tribal lands and in
Note: Does not reflect offsetting receipts for the Central Valley
rural areas under congressionally authorized Indian water
Project Restoration Fund (CVPRF).
rights settlements and rural water supply projects,
Earmarks and Reclamation
respectively. In addition, Congress has authorized
Reclamation grants to nonfederal projects, including those
The Water and Related Resources account consists largely
for water reuse and recycling, conservation and efficiency,
of individual project funding lines. Since the 112th
and desalination.
Congress, these projects have been subject to earmark
moratoriums that restrict Congress from funding
Reclamation’s Water and Related Resources account funds
geographically specific project line items that the
most agency activities, including construction, operation
Administration did not request. In lieu of these additions,
and maintenance, dam safety, and ecosystem restoration. It
since FY2014, Congress has included additional funding in
also funds Indian water rights settlements and most
appropriations bills beyond the President’s budget request
Reclamation programmatic and grant authorities.
for selected categories of Reclamation projects. These funds
Reclamation typically also requests funding for three
typically are allocated in work plans produced by the
smaller accounts: California Bay-Delta Restoration, the
Administration and made available several months after
Central Valley Project Restoration Fund (which is offset by
appropriations bills have been enacted. Work plans are
customer receipts), and the Policy and Administration
available at
Work plans pursuant to recent enacted appropriations bills
FY2021 Budget
have continued the practice of providing additional funds
The President’s budget request for FY2021 proposed $1.13
for allocation on specific projects. This funding has
billion in gross current authority (i.e., appropriations before
generally increased over time (Figure 2). FY2020 enacted
offsets) for Reclamation. Congress enacted $1.66 billion for
appropriations for Reclamation provided $433 million for
Reclamation in its final FY2020 enacted appropriations bill
projects in the following five categories: rural water; water
(Division C of the Further Consolidated Appropriations
conservation and delivery; environmental restoration or
Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-94)). Figure 1 shows the last six fiscal
compliance; fish passage and screens; and facilities
operation, maintenance, and rehabilitation.

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Bureau of Reclamation: FY2021 Appropriations
Figure 2. Reclamation Additional Funding Categories,
Reclamation Water Storage Projects: Section 4007 of the
Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act.
(nominal $ in millions)
WaterSMART Program
Reclamation combines funding for multiple programs
promoting water conservation into a single program—
WaterSMART. WaterSMART is notable for its departure
from Reclamation’s traditional federal project-based
funding. In recent years, WaterSMART has included
funding for seven programs. The largest sub-programs in
the initiative are WaterSMART grants (i.e., water and
related energy efficiency projects) and Title XVI projects
(i.e., water recycling and reuse projects).
For FY2021, the Administration requested a total of $18
million for the WaterSMART program, $119 million below
the FY2020 enacted level of $137 million (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Reclamation WaterSMART Program,
FY2015-FY2020, and the FY2021 Budget Request
(nominal $ in millions)

Source: CRS, based on enacted appropriations data.
Reclamation Appropriations Issues
WIIN Act Section 4007 Funding
Reclamation has constructed few new water storage
projects since the 1970s. Section 4007 of the Water
Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act;
P.L. 114-322) authorized a new process and financing
structure for Reclamation to study and construct new or
expanded federal and nonfederal water storage projects. For
a project to receive funding under this authority, it must be
recommended by the Administration and named by
Congress in enacted appropriations legislation. The
authority first received funding in FY2017 appropriations.
In 2018 reporting to Congress, Reclamation recommended

seven projects to receive $35 million in FY2017
Source: CRS, based on Reclamation budget request and enacted
appropriations; Congress agreed to these recommendations
appropriations data.
in enacted FY2018 appropriations and appropriated $134
million in additional funds for Section 4007 that same year.
Rural Water Supply and Indian Water Rights
In FY2019, Reclamation received another $134 million for
Section 4007 projects. As with the FY2017 funds, these
Congress authorized Reclamation to build projects that
funds required future project-level allocations and approval
provide water supplies to rural communities and Indian
in appropriations acts.
tribes. The FY2021 President’s budget requested $30
million for five authorized rural water projects. This is $115
In February 2019, Reclamation recommended another
million less than the FY2020 enacted level, which provided
round of projects in three states to receive prior year
$117 million in “additional funds” to be allocated to
(FY2017 and FY2018) funds: Shasta Dam and Reservoir
individual projects in an FY2020 Work Plan (see previous
Enlargement (CA); Del Puerto Water District Feasibility
section, “Earmarks and Reclamation”). For Indian Water
Study (CA); Los Vaqueros Phase 2 Feasibility Study (CA);
Rights Settlements, the FY2021 President’s budget
Sites Reservoir Feasibility Study; Friant-Kern Subsidence
requested $86 million in discretionary funds for
Correction Feasibility Study (CA); Cle Elum Pool Raise
construction activities to implement four authorized Indian
(WA); and Boise River Basin Feasibility Study (ID).
water rights settlements. In addition to this funding, some
FY2020 enacted appropriations approved these funding
of these settlements are expected to draw on available
recommendations, with the exception of the Shasta Dam
mandatory funding to support settlement implementation.
Raise Project, which received no Section 4007 funding.
For more information, see CRS Report R44148, Indian
Congress also appropriated an additional $134 million for
Water Rights Settlements.
Section 4007 projects in FY2020. Thus, the majority of
funding under this authority (including all of the funding
Charles V. Stern, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
appropriated in FY2019 and FY2020) has yet to be
allocated by the Administration and approved by Congress.
For more information, see CRS In Focus IF10626,

Bureau of Reclamation: FY2021 Appropriations

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