Bureau of Reclamation: FY2021 Appropriations

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Updated January 8, 2021
Bureau of Reclamation: FY2021 Appropriations

appropriations levels for Reclamation compared with
The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), part of the
FY2021 proposed and enacted appropriations.
Department of the Interior, is responsible for construction
and operation of many of the large dams and water
Figure 1. Reclamation Appropriations by Account,
diversion structures in 17 coterminous western states.
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
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
Source: CRS, based on Reclamation’s FY2021 budget request and
operation and maintenance of existing projects.
proposed and enacted appropriations data.
Reclamation also has expanded into new areas, including
Note: Does not reflect offsetting receipts for the Central Val ey
funding for water supply projects on tribal lands and in
Project Restoration Fund (CVPRF).
rural areas under congressionally authorized Indian water
rights settlements and rural water supply projects,
Earmarks and Reclamation
respectively. In addition, Congress has authorized
The Water and Related Resources account consists largely
Reclamation grants to nonfederal projects, including those
of individual project funding lines. Since the 112th
for water reuse and recycling, conservation and efficiency,
Congress, these projects have been subject to earmark
and desalination.
moratoriums that restrict Congress from funding
Reclamation’s Water and Related Resources account funds
geographically specific project line items that the
Administration did not request. In lieu of these additions,
most agency activities, including construction, operation
since FY2014, Congress has included additional funding in
and maintenance, dam safety, ecosystem restoration, Indian
appropriations bills beyond the President’s budget request
water rights settlements, and most programmatic and grant
for selected categories of Reclamation projects. The
authorities. Reclamation typically also requests funding for
Administration typically allocates these funds in work plans
three smaller accounts: California Bay-Delta Restoration,
made available several months after Congress enacts
the Central Valley Project Restoration Fund (which is offset
appropriations bills. Work plans are available at
by customer receipts), and the Policy and Administration
FY2021 Budget and Appropriations
Work plans pursuant to recent enacted appropriations bills
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 increased
billion in gross current authority (i.e., appropriations before
each year from FY2017 to FY2020 (Figure 2). For
offsets) for Reclamation. In H.R. 7617, the House
FY2021, the House recommended $389 million for
recommended $1.655 billion for Reclamation in FY2021.
additional Reclamation projects, and the draft Senate
In its draft FY2021 Energy and Water Development bill,
Appropriations Committee bill included $433 million for
the Senate Appropriations Committee included $1.691
these projects. In P.L. 116-260, Congress included $428
billion, and Congress included $1.691 billion in the final
million for additional Reclamation projects, slightly less
enacted bill (P.L. 116-260). Figure 1 shows recent enacted
than FY2020.

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Bureau of Reclamation: FY2021 Appropriations
Figure 2. Reclamation Additional Funding Categories,
WaterSMART Program
Reclamation combines funding for six subprograms (many
(nominal $ in millions)
of them awarded as grants) promoting water conservation
into one program—WaterSMART. The largest
subprograms are WaterSMART grants (i.e., water and
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, the draft
Senate committee bill recommended $134 million (Figure
, and P.L. 116-260 included $131 million for
Figure 3. Reclamation WaterSMART Program,
(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
FY2017 to FY2020, Congress appropriated $469 million
for this authority. Prior to FY2021 appropriations, Congress

approved approximately $49 million for individual projects
Source: CRS, based on Reclamation FY2021 budget request and
recommended by Reclamation in January 2018 and
proposed and enacted appropriations data.
February 2019. Funding for one recommended project (the
Shasta Dam and Reservoir Enlargement Project, in the
Rural Water Supply
February 2019 Administration recommendation) was not
Congress has authorized Reclamation to build projects to
approved by Congress.
provide water supplies to rural communities. The FY2021
President’s budget requested $30 million for five authorized
Reclamation recommended two more rounds of Section
projects. The House recommended $130 million for these
4007 projects in 2020 (i.e., during FY2021 appropriations
projects, including $100 million in “Additional Funds” for
consideration). First, on June 22, 2020, Reclamation
rural water projects, and the Senate committee draft
recommended a third round of projects to receive $108.8
provided $147 million for them, including $117 million in
million in previously appropriated funds. Later, on
Additional Funds. In P.L. 116-260, Congress provided $145
December 3, 2020, Reclamation recommended a fourth
million for rural water projects, including $115 million in
round of projects to receive $260.8 million in previous
Additional Funds. For more information, see CRS Report
appropriations. In P.L. 116-260, Congress approved $254.6
R46308, Bureau of Reclamation Rural Water Projects.
million from both lists (i.e., most of the proposed funding,
but once again leaving out the funding proposed for the
Shasta Dam and Reservoir Enlargement Project). Congress
Charles V. Stern, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
also appropriated $134 million in FY2021 funds for future
Section 4007 projects to be allocated at the project level.
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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