Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Steps for Drought Mitigation Funding from Inflation Reduction Act
New program will increase water conservation and water efficiency within the Colorado River Basin
WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today announced new drought mitigation funding opportunities to improve and protect the long-term sustainability of the Colorado River System.
A newly created Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program, funded with an initial allocation through the Inflation Reduction Act and managed through the Bureau of Reclamation, will help increase water conservation, improve water efficiency, and prevent the System’s reservoirs from falling to critically low elevations that would threaten water deliveries and power production.
“The prolonged drought afflicting the West is one of the most significant challenges facing our country. I have seen firsthand how climate change is exacerbating the drought crisis and putting pressure on the communities who live across Western landscapes,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Thanks to historic funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, the Interior Department is committed to using every resource available to conserve water and ensure that irrigators, Tribes and adjoining communities receive adequate assistance and support to build resilient communities and protect our water supplies.”
“This significant investment from the Inflation Reduction Act enables the Bureau of Reclamation to improve water management and conservation efforts in the Colorado River Basin today – and for the future,” said Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “The Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program provides both new opportunities for system conservation and more durable long-term solutions for areas experiencing drought.”
The availability of this new funding supplements the actions announced in August 2022 as part of Reclamation’s release of the Colorado River Basin August 2022 24-Month Study, which sets the annual operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead in 2023. It also builds on new and urgent actions recently announced by Department leaders to improve and protect the long-term sustainability of the Colorado River System.
The Inflation Reduction Act includes $4 billion in funding specifically for water management and conservation efforts in the Colorado River Basin and other areas experiencing similar levels of drought. Today’s announcement focuses on near-term actions to protect the Colorado River in the Lower Basin. The Department is also working to invest in long-term system efficiency improvements across the Basin, including at least $500 million in the Upper Basin states of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico, that will result in additional water conservation for the entire system.
New Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program
The newly created Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program will select projects for funding by Colorado River water delivery contract or entitlement holders that mitigate drought, protect important natural resources, and ensure a reliable source of water and power for those who live in communities across the West.
The program funding opportunity has three components. Two of the three components are open for proposal submissions from Oct. 12 to Nov. 21, 2022 and require confirmation of water conservation and system benefits.
For the first component, eligible applicants may submit proposals for system conservation resulting in wet water remaining in Lake Mead at a set price of:
- One-year agreement: $330 per acre-foot
- Two-year agreement: $365 per acre-foot
- Three-year agreement: $400 per acre-foot
A second component of the program will accept proposals for additional water conservation and efficiency projects that could involve a variety of pricing options.
The third component allows for proposals to be submitted in early 2023 for long-term system efficiency improvements that will result in multi-year system conservation.
Information on the program and proposal submission details will be available later today on Reclamation’s Inflation Reduction Act webpage.
As the Department implements this historic funding opportunity, it is focused on the need for continued collaboration and partnerships across the Upper and Lower Basins, with Tribes, and with the country of Mexico. The agency’s approach will continue to seek consensus support and will be based on a continued commitment to engage with diverse stakeholders to ensure all communities that rely on the Colorado River will provide contributions toward the solutions.
About the U.S. Department of the Interior
The Department of the Interior (DOI) conserves and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people, provides scientific and other information about natural resources and natural hazards to address societal challenges and create opportunities for the American people, and honors the Nation’s trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated island communities to help them prosper.