Interior Department Announces $30 Million from President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda for Water Savings in the Upper Colorado River Basin

Last edited 03/28/2024

Date: Thursday, March 28, 2024

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today announced that the Bureau of Reclamation has made $30 million available for 114 projects in the Upper Colorado River Basin through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which is delivering unprecedented resources to protect the Colorado River System. These projects will conserve about 66,400 acre-feet of Colorado River water in the Upper Basin as part of the Colorado River 2024 Conservation Pilot Program. 

The Colorado River Basin provides water for more than 40 million people, fuels hydropower resources in seven U.S. states, supports 5.5 million acres of agriculture and agricultural communities across the West, and is a crucial resource for 30 Tribal Nations and two states in Mexico. Despite improved hydrology in recent months, the historic 23-year drought has led to record low water levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead.  The Biden-Harris administration has led a comprehensive effort to address the ongoing drought and strengthen water security across the region now and into the future.

Relaunched in 2024 with funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, the Conservation Pilot Program is helping support water management and conservation efforts to improve water efficiency and ultimately protect the short-term sustainability of the Colorado River System. 

“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to making communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change — including across the Colorado River Basin and the diverse communities that rely on it,” said Acting Deputy Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis. “Building on our significant milestones this year to protect the Colorado River System, we are continuing to make smart investments through the President’s Investing in America agenda to protect the stability and sustainability of the Colorado River System and increase water efficiency across the West.”

“The Bureau of Reclamation is committed to ensuring the continued availability of water across the West, while at the same time enhancing the resiliency of our communities to a changing climate. This historic funding underscores how proactive efforts from the Biden-Harris administration are helping increase water efficiency and conservation across the West,” said Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “This next round of funding will provide necessary long-term conservation to lessen the severity of drought conditions and restore habitats that have been impacted by drought in each of the Upper Basin states."  

From 2015 to 2018, the Upper Basin System Conservation Pilot Program successfully tested new approaches to conserve water on the Colorado River and proved these measures are an effective approach to temporarily increase water efficiency and mitigate the impacts of drought. The program is cooperatively managed by Reclamation and the Upper Division States of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming acting through the Upper Colorado River Commission, and utilizes input from water users, water management organizations and previous program participants to focus on projects that support innovations in water conservation, local drought resiliency and those that inform a potential demand management program. 

This program supplements additional investments from the Biden-Harris administration to 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 – including historic funding from the Investing in America agenda that led to at least 3 million acre-feet of system water conservation savings through the end of 2026. 

More about the implementation of the System Conservation Pilot Program can be found on the Upper Colorado River Commission website


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