Reclamation Water Storage Projects: Section 4007 of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act

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Updated January 28, 2021
Reclamation Water Storage Projects: Section 4007 of the Water
Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act

Congress created a new authority for the Bureau of
Before projects can be constructed under the authority,
Reclamation (Reclamation, part of the Department of the
several milestones must be met. The Secretary of the
Interior) to build new water storage projects in Section
Interior must find that the project is feasible and provides
4007 of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the
benefits proportionate to the federal government’s cost
Nation Act (WIIN Act; P.L. 114-322). The authority
share, and project sponsors must agree to pay their portion
provides federal support for the construction of new and
of project costs up front. Appropriations under the Section
augmented surface water storage projects in the 17 arid
4007 authority are available only after the Secretary
reclamation states. As of late 2020, Congress had
transmits a list of recommended projects and funding levels
appropriated $603 million for these projects, and
to Congress. In turn, Congress designates those projects by
Reclamation had allocated approximately half of these
name in an enacted appropriations act.
funds to 12 projects in three states. Project allocations for
the remaining appropriations would require further
Any project that meets the WIIN Act criteria is initially
congressional action.
eligible for funding allocations. However, Congress also
stipulated that in order to move forward, the Secretary must
Background
find projects feasible by January 1, 2021, and projects must
Traditionally, Reclamation’s role in water project
be under construction by December 17, 2021.
development has been limited to geographically specific
projects authorized in federal statutes (federal law that
Differences from Traditional Reclamation Water
applies to reclamation projects is generally referred to as
Storage Project Model
reclamation law). Congress provided full, up-front funding
In contrast to the traditional model of full financing up -
for the construction costs of these facilities through
front, Section 4007 authorizes partial, up-front federal
discretionary appropriations to Reclamation. Project
funding, with the nonfederal share of funding also required
beneficiaries (i.e., irrigators, municipal water suppliers, and
up front. Proponents of these changes argue they are
hydropower contractors) would then repay their portion of
advantageous compared to the traditional model, because
“reimbursable” project construction or development costs
they stretch scarce federal funds and provide increased
over a 40-50 year term. The amount of the up-front
incentive for local involvement in projects. At the same
investment recouped by the federal government typically
time, because the new authority requires a large up-front
depends on several factors, including the portion of project
cost share from nonfederal users, it may not be a viable
benefits that are classified as fully or partially
option for project sponsors who lack the means to finance
nonreimbursable (e.g., fish and wildlife enhancements,
their part of a project’s costs.
flood control, recreation) and adjustments for irrigators’
ability to pay.
Section 4007 also significantly altered the role of
congressional authorizing and appropriations committees; it
Section 4007 of the WIIN Act
allowed Reclamation to move forward with construction
Congress enacted a new authority for Reclamation to
without direct legislative approval from congressional
support water storage projects under Section 4007 of the
authorizing committees (i.e., only the appropriators must
WIIN Act. The act authorized a total of $335 million in
approve). By requiring designation of Administration
discretionary appropriations for new and improved water
recommendations by name in appropriations acts, Section
storage projects, and it used a different approach than under
4007 effectively shifted project approval decisions from the
traditional reclamation law.
authorization committees to the appropriations committees.
Funding for water storage projects under Section 4007 is
Recent Funding, Project Allocations
available for two primary project types. Federally owned
From FY2017 to FY2021, Congress appropriated $603
storage projects (surface water or groundwater storage
million for Section 4007 projects (i.e., more than the $335
projects to which the United States holds title and which
million originally authorized in the WIIN Act), including
were authorized to be constructed pursuant to reclamation
funding in enacted Energy and Water Development
law and regulations) may be no more than 50% federally
appropriations acts for FY2017 ($67 million), FY2018
funded. State-led storage projects (surface water or
($134 million), FY2019 ($134 million), FY2020 ($134
groundwater storage projects constructed, operated, and
million), and FY2021 ($134 million). Reclamation has
maintained by states or political subdivisions) may be no
transmitted four lists of project recommendations for these
more than 25% federally funded. Prior to the WIIN Act,
funds that, after congressional approval, released funding to
Congress had not authorized Reclamation to fund state-led
individual projects. Table 1 shows approved funding to
water storage projects.
date for individual projects.
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Table 1. Congressionally Approved Allocations for Section 4007 Water Storage Projects
($s in millions)
Project (State)
Jan. 2018 List
Feb. 2019 List June 2020 List Dec. 2020 List
Shasta Dam and Reservoir Enlargement Project (CA)
$20.00
—a
—a
—a
Sites Reservoir Storage Project (CA)
$4.35
$4.00
$4.00
$9.70
Upper San Joaquin River Basin Storage Investigation
$1.50



(CA)
Friant-Kern Canal Subsidence Chal enges Project
$2.20
$2.35
$71.00
$135.00
(CA)
Boise River Basin Feasibility Study (ID)
$0.75
$1.75
$2.88
$10.00
Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project—
$2.00
$4.00
$1.00
$2.00
Cle Elum Pool Raise (WA)
Upper Yakima System Storage Feasibility Study (WA)
$2.50



Del Puerto Water District Feasibility Study (CA)

$1.50
$1.50

Los Vaqueros Reservoir Phase 2 Expansion (CA)

$2.16
$7.85
$4.10
Delta Mendota Canal Subsidence Correction (CA)


$3.00

San Luis Low Point Improvement Project (CA)


$1.70

Sacramento Regional Water Bank (CA)


$0.87

Total
$33.30
$15.76
$93.80
$160.80
Sources: Bureau of Reclamation Reports to House and Senate Committees on Appropriations in January 2018, February 2019, June 2020, and
December 2020; enacted appropriations legislation for FY2018 (P.L. 115-141), FY2020 (P.L. 116-94), and FY2021 (P.L. 116-260).
a.
In proposed project al ocations in 2019 and 2020, Reclamation proposed a total of $172 mil ion for the Shasta Dam and Reservoir
Enlargement Project. Congress did not agree to these al ocations.
Congress has approved Reclamation’s WIIN Act
to continue receiving funding under the WIIN Act’s
allocations for 12 projects: 9 in California, 2 in
authority.
Washington, and 1 in Idaho. The Trump Administration
transmitted its last proposals in June 2020 ($108.8 million
Issues for Congress
for 10 projects) and December 2020 ($260.8 million for 6
The Biden Administration is likely to continue proposing
projects). In the FY2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act
project-level allocations for outstanding Section 4007
(P.L. 116-260), Congress approved all of these
appropriations. Similar to prior lists, these allocations
recommendations with the exception of $115 million in
would require congressional approval. Significantly more
construction funding proposed in the two lists for the Shasta
appropriations would be required to complete most of the
Dam and Reservoir Enlargement project. Accounting for
ongoing WIIN Act projects; thus, demand for new
that decision, approximately $304 million of the $603
appropriations also is likely to continue. Supporters of the
million in enacted appropriations had been approved for
authority argue these projects warrant funding because they
individual projects as of the end of 2020.
will increase water availability and address climate change.
Opponents argue there should be little or no federal role for
Projects Eligible for Ongoing Funding
projects that largely benefit nonfederal entities. They also
Six projects with prior funding allocations were found
argue that aid for surface water supply storage should give
feasible prior to the WIIN Act deadline of January 1, 2021,
way to support of environmentally friendly methods to
and are eligible for ongoing funding: the Friant-Kern Canal
augment water supplies.
Subsidence Challenges Project, Los Vaqueros Reservoir
Phase 2 Expansion Project, Boise River Basin Feasibility
Apart from advocating for additional appropriations, some
Study, Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project,
support extension and/or changes to Section 4007. In past
North-of-the-Delta Offstream Storage Investigation, and
Congresses, proposed changes included waivers from the
Shasta Dam and Reservoir Enlargement project.
congressional approval requirement for smaller projects and
Additionally, one nonfederal feasibility study without prior
a return to authorizing committee involvement in project
WIIN Act funding—the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir
approval.
Expansion Project in California—was found feasible prior
to the WIIN Act deadline and appears to be eligible for
Charles V. Stern, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
construction funding allocations in 2021. As stated above,
projects must be under construction by December 17, 2021,
IF10626
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Reclamation Water Storage Projects: Section 4007 of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act


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https://crsreports.congress.gov | IF10626 · VERSION 10 · UPDATED