Bureau of Reclamation: FY2020 Appropriations

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Updated February 3, 2020
Bureau of Reclamation: FY2020 Appropriations
recent appropriations levels for Reclamation compared to
Most of the large dams and water diversion structures in the
the FY2020 President’s budget request and enacted levels.
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.
FY2010-FY2020 Enacted
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 these 17 western states and the second-largest
hydroelectric power producer in the nation. Operations of
Reclamation facilities 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
Source: CRS, based on Reclamation budget request and enacted
shifted from construction of new water storage projects to
appropriations data.
operation and maintenance of existing projects.
Notes: Does not reflect offsetting receipts for the Central Valley
Reclamation has also expanded into new areas, including
Project Restoration Fund (CVPRF).
funding for water supply projects on tribal lands and in
rural areas under congressionally authorized Indian water
Earmarks and Reclamation
rights settlements and rural water supply projects,
The Water and Related Resources account is made up
respectively. Congress has also authorized Reclamation
largely of individual project funding lines. These projects
grants to nonfederal projects, including those for water
have been subject to recent earmark moratoriums that
reuse and recycling, conservation and efficiency, and
restrict the addition of funding for geographically specific
project line-items that the Administration did not request. In
lieu of these additions, since FY2014, Congress has
Reclamation’s Water and Related Resources account funds
included additional funding in appropriations bills beyond
most agency activities, including construction, operation
the President’s budget request for selected categories of
and maintenance, dam safety, and ecosystem restoration. It
Reclamation projects. These funds are typically allocated in
also funds Indian water rights settlements and most
work plans produced by the Administration and made
Reclamation programmatic and grant authorities.
available several months after appropriations bills have
Reclamation also typically requests funding for three
been enacted (these plans are available at
smaller accounts: California Bay-Delta Restoration, the
Central Valley Project Restoration Fund (the latter of which
is offset by customer receipts), and the Policy and
Recent enacted appropriations bills have continued the
Administration account.
practice of providing additional funds for allocation on
specific projects in a work plan; funding for these projects
FY2020 Budget
has generally increased over time. FY2020 appropriations
The President’s budget request for FY2020 proposed $1.11
for Reclamation provided $433 million for projects in five
billion in gross current authority for Reclamation, and
categories: rural water; water conservation and delivery;
Congress enacted $1.66 billion for Reclamation in its final
environmental restoration or compliance; and facilities
enacted appropriations bill. The funding for Reclamation is
operation, maintenance, and rehabilitation (Figure 2).
provided in Division C of the Further Consolidated
Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-94), as detailed by the
accompanying explanatory statement. Figure 1 shows

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Bureau of Reclamation: FY2020 Appropriations
Figure 2. Reclamation Additional Funding,
Reclamation combines funding for multiple programs
FY2014-FY2020 Enacted
promoting water conservation into a single program—
(nominal $ in millions)
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 FY2020, the Administration requested a total of $20
million for the WaterSMART program, $93 million below
the FY2019 enacted level of $113 million. P.L. 116-94
provided $137 million for all WaterSMART projects
(Figure 3).
Figure 3. Reclamation WaterSMART Program,
FY2014-FY2020 Enacted
(nominal $ in millions)

Source: CRS, based on Reclamation 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
Reclamation to study and construct new or expanded
federal and nonfederal water storage projects. For projects
to receive funding, they must be found feasible by
Reclamation, have a cost-sharing partner, and be named in
enacted appropriations legislation by Congress, among
other things. In 2018 reporting, Reclamation initially
recommended seven projects to receive $35 million in
FY2017 funding provided for projects under the Section
4007 authority; Congress agreed to these recommendations

in enacted FY2018 appropriations. In February 2019,
Source: CRS, based on Reclamation budget request and
Reclamation recommended another round of projects to
appropriations data.
receive $75 million in prior year (i.e., FY2017 and FY2018)
appropriations: Shasta Dam and Reservoir Enlargement
Rural Water Supply and Indian Water Rights
($57.0 million); Cle Elum Pool Raise ($4.0 million); Boise
River Basin Feasibility Study ($1.75 million); Del Puerto
Reclamation is authorized to build projects that provide
Water District Feasibility Study ($1.50 million); Los
water supplies to rural communities and Indian tribes. The
Vaqueros Phase 2 Feasibility Study ($2.15 million); Sites
FY2020 President’s budget requested $28 million for five
Reservoir Feasibility Study ($6.0 million); and Friant-Kern
authorized rural water projects, or $105 million less than
Subsidence Correction Feasibility Study ($2.35 million).
the FY2019 enacted level. P.L. 116-94 approved the
For FY2020, P.L. 116-94 approved these funding
President’s request for individual projects and added an
recommendations for all projects except for the Shasta Dam
additional $117 million in “additional funds” to be allocated
Raise Project, which received no funding.
to individual projects in an FY2020 Work Plan (see
previous section, “Earmarks and Reclamation”). For Indian
In addition to approving prior year funds, Congress also
Water Rights Settlements, the FY2020 President’s budget
appropriated an additional $134 million for Section 4007
requested $100 million in construction funds to implement
projects in FY2020. As was required for prior
four authorized Indian water rights settlements, $8 million
appropriations under this authority, this funding must be
less than the FY2019 enacted amount. P.L. 116-94
recommended in future project level allocations by the
approved this funding request. For more information, see
Administration and approved in future appropriations acts.
CRS Report R44148, Indian Water Rights Settlements.
For more information, see CRS In Focus IF10626,
Reclamation Water Storage Projects: Section 4007 of the
Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act
Charles V. Stern, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy


Bureau of Reclamation: FY2020 Appropriations

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