Secretary Salazar Announces $260 Million in Economic Recovery Investments to Help California Address Long-Term Water Supply Challenges and Devastating Drought Conditions

Last edited 09/29/2021

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, at a press conference with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and California congressional leaders, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the Department of the Interior will invest $1 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) in America's water infrastructure to create jobs and get the economy moving again. Overall, the Department of the Interior will manage $3 billion in investments as part of the recovery plan signed by the President to jumpstart our economy, create or save jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st Century.

Of the $1 billion that Interior's Bureau of Reclamation is investing in water projects across the country, $260 million will go to projects in California that will expand water supplies, repair aging water infrastructure, and mitigate the effects of a devastating drought the state is currently experiencing. An additional $135 million is available for grants for water reuse and recycling projects; California is emerging as a leader in the development of these projects and is expected to also significantly benefit from this funding.

“In the midst of one of the deepest economic crises in our history, Californians have been saddled with a drought that is putting tens of thousands of people out of work and devastating entire communities,” said Secretary Salazar. “President Obama's economic recovery plan will not only create jobs on basic water infrastructure projects, but it will help address both the short- and long-term water supply challenges the Golden State is facing. From boosting water supplies and improving conservation to improving safety at our dams, these shovel-ready projects will make a real and immediate difference in the lives of farmers, businesses, Native American Tribes and communities across California.”

Secretary Salazar, who earlier in the day toured the Sacramento Delta with Governor Schwarzenegger, announced that more than 30 Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure projects will be funded in California under the ARRA, including:

  • $40 million for immediate emergency drought relief in the West, focused on California. These investments will allow for the installation of groundwater wells to boost water supplies to agricultural and urban contractors, the facilitation of the delivery of Federal water to Reclamation contractors through water transfers and exchanges, and the installation of rock barriers in the Sacramento Delta to meet water quality standards during low flows;

  • $109.8 million to build a screened pumping plant at the Red Bluff Diversion Dam to protect fish populations while delivering water to agricultural users irrigating approximately 150,000 acres;

  • $22.3 million to address dam safety concerns at the Folsom Dam near Sacramento, which is currently among the highest risk dams in the country for public safety;

  • $8.5 million to repair water-related infrastructure at Folsom Dam;

  • $20 million for the Contra Costa Canal to protect water supplies for 500,000 Californians and to build fish screens to restore winter-run Chinook salmon and the endangered Delta smelt;

  • $4.5 million to restore the Trinity River and honor the Federal government's responsibility to the Native American Tribes;

  • $26 million for Battle Creek Salmon/Steelhead Restoration project, which will help restore fisheries that support thousands of jobs in northern California.

  • $4 million to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan for conveyance systems to move Central Valley Project and State Water Project water, habitat restoration and adaptive management;

  • $4 million to broaden scientific knowledge of Klamath River sedimentation for future management decision-making;

  • $20.7 million in smaller water infrastructure and related projects across California.

With an array of projects identified by stakeholders as critical, the Bureau of Reclamation worked through a rigorous merit-based process to identify investments that met the criteria put forth in the Recovery Act: namely, that the project addresses the Department's highest priority mission needs; generates the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time; and creates lasting value for the American public.

The $1 billion announced by Secretary Salazar today will go to programs including:

  • Meeting Future Water Supply Needs (including Title XVI water recycling projects and rural water projects) – $450 million

  • Improving Infrastructure Reliability and Safety – $165 million

  • Environmental and Ecosystem Restoration – $235 million

  • Water Conservation Initiative (Challenge Grants) – $40 million

  • Green Buildings – $14 million

  • Delivering water from the Colorado River to users in central Utah under the Central Utah Project Completion Act - $50 million

  • Emergency drought relief in the West, primarily in California - $40

“President Obama and this Department have ambitious goals to build America's new energy future, to protect and restore our treasured landscapes, to create a 21st Century Youth Conservation Corps,” added Salazar. “These Bureau of Reclamation projects will help us fulfill these goals while helping American families and their communities prosper again.”

Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department of the Interior's economic recovery projects. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on and on Secretary Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force. Henderson and the Task Force will work closely with the Department of the Interior's Inspector General to ensure that the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency that President Obama has set.

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