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Updated July 24, 2020
Bureau of Reclamation: FY2021 Appropriations

Figure 1. Reclamation Appropriations by Account,
Most of the large dams and water diversion structures in 17
FY2016-FY2021 Appropriations
coterminous western states were built by, or with the
(nominal $ in millions)
assistance of, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation),
part of the Department of the Interior. Reclamation’s
original mission was to develop water 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 17 western states and the second-largest
hydroelectric power producer in the nation. Reclamation

facilities’ operations can be controversial, particularly in
Source: CRS, based on Reclamation’s FY2021 budget request and
relation to effects on fish and wildlife species and conflicts
enacted appropriations data.
among competing water users.
Note: Does not reflect offsetting receipts for the Central Val ey
Reclamation’s role has evolved, and its focus has gradually
Project Restoration Fund (CVPRF).
shifted from construction of new water storage projects to
Earmarks and Reclamation
operation and maintenance of existing projects.
The Water and Related Resources account consists largely
Reclamation also has expanded into new areas, including
of individual project funding lines. Since the 112th
funding for water supply projects on tribal lands and in
Congress, these projects have been subject to earmark
rural areas under congressionally authorized Indian water
moratoriums that restrict Congress from funding
rights settlements and rural water supply projects,
geographically specific project line items that the
respectively. In addition, Congress has authorized
Administration did not request. In lieu of these additions,
Reclamation grants to nonfederal projects, including those
since FY2014, Congress has included additional funding in
for water reuse and recycling, conservation and efficiency,
appropriations bills beyond the President’s budget request
and desalination.
for selected categories of Reclamation projects. These funds
typically are allocated in work plans produced by the
Reclamation’s Water and Related Resources account funds
Administration and made available several months after
most agency activities, including construction, operation
appropriations bills have been enacted. Work plans are
and maintenance, dam safety, and ecosystem restoration. It
available at
also funds Indian water rights settlements and most
Reclamation programmatic and grant authorities.
Work plans pursuant to recent enacted appropriations bills
Reclamation typically also requests funding for three
have continued the practice of providing additional funds
smaller accounts: California Bay-Delta Restoration, the
for allocation on specific projects. This funding has
Central Valley Project Restoration Fund (which is offset by
generally increased over time (Figure 2). For FY2021, the
customer receipts), and the Policy and Administration
House Appropriations Committee recommended $389
million for additional Reclamation projects in the following
FY2021 Budget and Appropriations
five categories: rural water; water conservation and
The President’s budget request for FY202
delivery; environmental restoration or compliance; fish
1 proposed $1.13
passage and screens; and facilities operation, maintenance,
billion in gross current authority (i.e., appropriations before
and rehabilitation. Previously, FY2020 enacted
offsets) for Reclamation. In H.R. 7613, the House
appropriations provided $433 million for these projects.
Appropriations Committee recommended $1.655 billion for
Reclamation in FY2021. Figure 1 shows recent
appropriations levels for Reclamation compared with the
FY2021 President’s budget request and appropriations.

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Bureau of Reclamation: FY2021 Appropriations
Figure 2. Reclamation Additional Funding Categories,
related energy efficiency projects) and Title XVI projects
FY2016-FY2021 Appropriations
(i.e., water recycling and reuse projects).
(nominal $ in millions)
For FY2021, the Administration requested a total of $18
million for the WaterSMART program. The House
Appropriations Committee recommended $137 million for
these programs (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Reclamation WaterSMART Program,
FY2016-FY2021 Appropriations
(nominal $ in millions)

Source: CRS, based on enacted appropriations data.
Reclamation Appropriations Issues
WIIN Act Section 4007 Funding
Section 4007 of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for
the Nation Act (WIIN Act; P.L. 114-322) authorized a new
process for Reclamation to study and construct federal and
nonfederal water storage projects. For a project to receive
funding that was previously appropriated under this
authority, it must be recommended by the Administration

and named by Congress in enacted appropriations
Source: CRS, based on Reclamation budget request and enacted
legislation. From FY2017-FY2020, Congress appropriated
appropriations data.
$469 million for this authority. Through early 2020,
Reclamation had recommended two rounds of funding, with
Rural Water Supply and Indian Water Rights
approximately $49 million in funding for individual
projects released based on congressional approvals in
Congress has authorized Reclamation to build projects that
enacted appropriation bills. Funding for one recommended
provide water supplies to rural communities and Indian
project (the Shasta Dam and Reservoir Enlargement Project
tribes. The FY2021 President’s budget requested $30
in the February 2019 Administration recommendation) was
million for five authorized rural water projects. The House
not approved by Congress. For more information, see CRS
Appropriations Committee provided $130 million for these
In Focus IF10626, Reclamation Water Storage Projects:
projects, including $100 million in “Additional Funds” for
Section 4007 of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for
rural water projects (see previous section, “Earmarks and
the Nation Act.
Reclamation”). For Indian Water Rights Settlements, the
FY2021 President’s budget requested $86 million in
On June 22, 2020, Reclamation recommended a third round
discretionary funds to implement four authorized Indian
of projects to receive $108.8 million in previously
water rights settlements. In addition to this funding, some
appropriated funds. The House Appropriations Committee’s
settlements are expected to draw on mandatory funding that
recommendation for FY2021 approved all but one of the
supports settlement implementation. For more information,
projects submitted by the Administration, once again
see CRS Report R44148, Indian Water Rights Settlements.
excepting the Shasta Project ($15 million). The committee
recommended that $67 million in FY2021 appropriations
Emergency Supplemental Funding
also go toward future storage projects under Section 4007.
In addition to discretionary appropriations, the House
WaterSMART Program
Appropriations Committee included in Title VI of its
FY2021 recommendation $3 billion in emergency
Reclamation combines funding for multiple programs
supplemental funding for Reclamation, including $2.164
promoting water conservation into a single program—
million for specific categories. For more information, see
WaterSMART. WaterSMART is notable for its departure
CRS Insight IN11465, Proposed Supplemental Funding for
from Reclamation’s traditional federal project-based
Bureau of Reclamation Projects.
funding. In recent years, WaterSMART has included
funding for seven programs. The largest sub-programs in
Charles V. Stern, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
the initiative are WaterSMART grants (i.e., water and

Bureau of Reclamation: FY2021 Appropriations

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wish to copy or otherwise use copyrighted material. | IF11465 · VERSION 2 · UPDATED