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Updated December 9, 2020
Bureau of Reclamation: FY2021 Appropriations

appropriations levels for Reclamation compared with the
The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), part of the
FY2021 President’s budget request and proposed FY2021
Department of the Interior, is responsible for construction
and operation of many of the large dams and water
diversion structures in 17 coterminous western states.
Figure 1. Reclamation Appropriations by Account,
Reclamation’s original mission was to develop water
FY2017-FY2021 Appropriations
supplies, primarily for irrigation to reclaim arid lands in the
(nominal $ in millions)
West. Today, its mission includes management,
development, and protection of water and related resources.
Reclamation’s mission areas and geographic scope are
narrower than 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
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

operation and maintenance of existing projects.
Source: CRS, based on Reclamation’s FY2021 budget request and
Reclamation also has expanded into new areas, including
proposed and enacted appropriations data.
funding for water supply projects on tribal lands and in
Note: Does not reflect offsetting receipts for the Central Val ey
rural areas under congressionally authorized Indian water
Project Restoration Fund (CVPRF).
rights settlements and rural water supply projects,
respectively. In addition, Congress has authorized
Earmarks and Reclamation
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. The
Reclamation typically also requests funding for three
Administration typically allocates these funds in work plans
smaller accounts: California Bay-Delta Restoration, the
made available several months after Congress enacts
Central Valley Project Restoration Fund (which is offset by
appropriations bills. Work plans are available at
customer receipts), and the Policy and Administration
Work plans pursuant to recent enacted appropriations bills
FY2021 Budget and Appropriations
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). For FY2021, the
offsets) for Reclamation. In H.R. 7617, the House
House recommended $389 million for additional
recommended $1.655 billion for Reclamation in FY2021,
Reclamation projects in the following five categories: rural
and the Senate Appropriations Committee majority draft
water; water conservation and delivery; environmental
FY2021 Energy and Water Development bill included
restoration or compliance; fish passage and screens; and
$1.691 billion. Figure 1 shows recent enacted
facilities operation, maintenance, and rehabilitation. The

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Bureau of Reclamation: FY2021 Appropriations
draft Senate Appropriations Committee bill included $433
WaterSMART Program
million for these projects.
Reclamation combines funding for six subprograms (many
of them awarded as grants) promoting water conservation
Figure 2. Reclamation Additional Funding Categories,
into one program—WaterSMART. The largest
FY2017-FY2021 Appropriations
subprograms are WaterSMART grants (i.e., water and
(nominal $ in millions)
energy efficiency grants) and Title XVI projects (i.e., water
recycling and reuse projects). For FY2021, the
Administration requested $18 million for the WaterSMART
program. The House recommended $137 million, and the
draft Senate committee bill recommended $134 million
(Figure 3).
Figure 3. Reclamation WaterSMART Program,
FY2017-FY2021 Appropriations
(nominal $ in millions)

Source: CRS, based on proposed and 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 Congress previously appropriated under this
authority, the Administration must recommend it for
funding allocations and Congress must mention the project

by name in enacted appropriations legislation. From
Source: CRS, based on Reclamation FY2021 budget request and
FY2017 to FY2020, Congress appropriated $469 million
proposed and enacted appropriations data.
for this authority. To date, Reclamation has recommended
Rural Water Supply
two rounds of funding that were largely approved by
Congress, with approximately $49 million released to
Congress has authorized Reclamation to build projects to
individual projects based on these approvals. Funding for
provide water supplies to rural communities. The FY2021
President’s budget requested $
one recommended project (the Shasta Dam and Reservoir
30 million for five authorized
Enlargement Project, in the February 2019 Administration
projects. The House recommended $130 million for these
projects, including $100 million in “Additional Funds” for
recommendation) was not approved by Congress.
rural water projects, and the Senate committee draft
On June 22, 2020, Reclamation recommended a third round
provided $147 million for them, including $117 million in
of projects to receive $108.8 million in previously
Additional Funds (see “Earmarks and Reclamation,”
appropriated funds. In its FY2021 bill, the House approved
above). For more information, see CRS Report R46308,
all but one of the projects submitted by the Administration,
Bureau of Reclamation Rural Water Projects.
again not funding the Shasta project ($15 million). It also
Emergency Supplemental Funding
recommended $67 million in FY2021 appropriations for
future Section 4007 projects. The Senate committee
In addition to discretionary funding, the House included in
majority draft FY2021 Energy and Water Development bill
Title VI of its FY2021 bill $3 billion in emergency
did not reference any recommended projects by name but
supplemental funding for Reclamation, with $2.164 million
included $134 million for future projects. On December 3,
allocated for specific categories. For more information, s ee
2020, Reclamation recommended a fourth round of projects
CRS Insight IN11465, Proposed Supplemental Funding for
to receive $260.8 million in previous appropriations.
Bureau of Reclamation Projects.
Similar to the June list, Congress would need to reference
these projects in FY2021 enacted appropriations for
Charles V. Stern, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
recommended funding to be released. For more
information, see CRS In Focus IF10626, Reclamation
Water Storage Projects: Section 4007 of the Water
Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act

Bureau of Reclamation: FY2021 Appropriations

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wish to copy or otherwise use copyrighted material. | IF11465 · VERSION 3 · UPDATED