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Proposed Supplemental Funding for Bureau
of Reclamation Projects
July 22, 2020
The House Appropriations Committee’s reported version of the FY2021 Energy and Water Development
appropriations bill (H.R. 7613)
includes $3 bil ion in emergency supplemental funding for the Bureau of
Reclamation (Reclamation). This is in addition to the bil ’s regular FY2021 funding for Reclamation of
$1.636 bil ion. Reclamation owns and operates hundreds of large dams and water diversion structures in
the 17 conterminous states west of the Mississippi River. Congress created Reclamation in the
Reclamation Act of 1902, which authorized the Secretary of the Interior to construct irrigation works in
western states. Background on Reclamation is available here.
Over the past five years, Congress has appropriated to Reclamation an average of approximately $1.4
bil ion per year.
In contrast to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Reclamation has not built many new
projects over the past few decades and has not received significant supplemental funding since the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5)
. Most of its expenditures are typical y to
maintain existing projects. Recently, Congress has supported some new Reclamation construction efforts.
In Section 4007 of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act
(WIIN; P.L. 114-322
Congress provided Reclamation with its first significant new water storage project construction authority
in almost 50 years. Congress had appropriated $469 mil ion for this authority through FY2020. Congress
has also directed Reclamation to participate in construction of congressional y approved Indian water
rights settlements. In addition to approximately $100 mil ion per year in discretionary funding for these
projects, Congress approved mandatory funding of $120 mil ion per year
for them from FY2020 to
Reclamation Funding in H.R. 7613
would provide FY2021 supplemental appropriations of $3 bil ion to Reclamation, of which
$2.164 bil ion would be designated for specific categories (Table 1)
. This Insight provides context and
background on these categories.
Congressional Research Service
Prepared for Members and
Committees of Congress
Congressional Research Service
Table 1. Bureau of Reclamation Supplemental Funding in H.R. 7613
Program or Project Type
Title XVI Water Reuse and Recycling
Canal Conveyance Capacity Correction Projects
Indian Water Rights Settlements
Rural Water Projects
Environmental Restoration and Compliance
Emergency Facility Remediation/Repair
Central Utah Project Completion Act
Central Val ey Project Improvement Act
California Bay-Delta Restoration Act
San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act
Congressional Research Service, based on Title IV, H.R. 7613
includes funding for two Reclamation WaterSMART
Programs: WaterSMART Grants
WaterSMART Grants fund water and energy efficiency improvements in Reclamation states
and have received an average of $26 mil ion annual y since the authority was first enacted in 2009. Title
XVI projects are water reuse and recycling projects authorized individual y by Congress pursuant to Title
XVI of the Reclamation Projects Authorization and Adjustment Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-575)
. There are
currently 84 authorized Title XVI Projects, with total authorized federal funding for these projects in
excess of $1.8 bil ion. Since the last major change to Title XVI (2016), these projects have received
approximately $44 mil ion per year.
A significant portion of funding in H.R. 7613
would benefit projects in California, the largest reclamation
state and home to Reclamation’s single largest project: the Central Val ey Project.
Several water storage
and restoration projects that were original y authorized in the 2004 California Bay-Delta Restoration Act
would receive $250 mil ion from the bil . The committee also recommended $250 mil ion
for activities pursuant to the 1992 Central Val ey Project Improvement Act (Title XXXIV of P.L. 102-575)
and implementation of the ongoing restoration program
pursuant to the San Joaquin River Restoration
Settlement Act (Title X, Subtitle A of P.L. 111-11).
While not explicitly designated for California, some or
al of the $200 mil ion for canal capacity correction projects would likely benefit the largest such
proposed project: California’s Friant-Kern Canal Capacity Correction Project
Some of the funding in H.R. 7613
would benefit “nontraditional” Reclamation projects in the form of Indian water rights settlements
and rural water projects
. The $605 mil ion for Indian water rights
settlements would be available to spend on seven settlements: White Mountain Apache Settlement in
Arizona; Crow Settlement in Montana; Aamodt Settlement in New Mexico; Taos Pueblo Settlement in
New Mexico; Navajo Nation Settlement (Navajo-Gal up Project) in New Mexico; Gila River Indian
Community Settlement in Arizona; and Tohono O’odham Settlement in Arizona. The $100 mil ion for
rural water projects would be available for six authorized but not completed Reclamation rural water
projects: Garrison Diversion Unit in North Dakota; Lewis and Clark Rural Water System in South
Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa; Fort Peck Reservation/Dry Prairie Rural Water System in Montana; Rocky
Boy’s/North Central Rural Water System in Montana; Jicaril a Apache Rural Water System in New
Mexico; and Eastern New Mexico Water Supply in New Mexico. Reclamation reported that as of
FY2020, $1.2 bil ion would be needed to complete these rural water projects.
Congressional Research Service
In some cases, it would be up to Reclamation to al ocate funding. The $100 mil ion in funding for
environmental restoration and compliance in H.R. 7613
has no associated requirements. Similarly, the
$8.5 mil ion for emergency remediation of Reclamation facilities that have failed or where there is
imminent threat of failure mentions no specific project or area by name. There has been one major
Reclamation facility “failure” in recent years: the May 17, 2020, St. Mary Canal f
ailure in Montana.
The bil includes an additional $100 mil ion for the Central Utah Completion Act Project (a project
original y authorized for Reclamation but not currently owned by the bureau). Taking this into account,
approximately $838.5 mil ion would remain for Reclamation to al ocate for any other priorities as it sees
fit. These could include additional funding for any of the aforementioned categories or funding for other
Reclamation needs. Among other things, Reclamation might choose to spend some or al of this funding
on the aforementioned new or expanded water storage projects under Section 4007 of the WIIN Act.
Reclamation could also utilize funding to address major repair and rehabilitation needs at its projects.
Earlier this year, for example, Reclamation estimated that its five-year extraordinary maintenance and
rehabilitation needs were in excess of $3.8 bil ion.
Charles V. Stern
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
This document was prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). CRS serves as nonpartisan shared staff
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