Addressing Drought

Water is essential to feeding families, growing crops, sustaining wildlife and the environment, and powering agricultural businesses. Unfortunately, the climate crisis has created drought conditions in the west that continue to worsen, leading to historically low water allocations. 

With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, President Biden took the historic step to provide critical funding to address water and drought challenges and invest in our nation’s western water and power infrastructure while rebuilding our existing projects to withstand a changing hydrology.   

The infrastructure law provides $8.3 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation’s water infrastructure programs and $2.5 for authorized water rights settlement projects (more details on our Tribal Investments page). The funding includes:  

  • $1 billion for WaterSMART Programs to support reuse projects, with $550 million for Title XVI (Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects), and $450 million for large-scale projects. 
  • $1 billion for rural water projects to support projects that have been authorized by an Act of Congress before July 1, 2021, to meet the critical water supply needs of rural communities and Tribal nations.
  • $500 million for dam safety projects that will fund construction and maintain the operational capacity of 12 dams that require modification and minimize risk to the public.
  • $300 million to implement the Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency Plan, designed to protect the Colorado River system through voluntary reductions and increased conservation.
  • $250 million for Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration to invest in the health of fisheries, wildlife or aquatic habitat through habitat restoration and improved fish passage. 
  • $250 million for desalination construction to support the development and supplement municipal and irrigation water supplies through the treatment of ocean or brackish water, providing a local supply and flexibility during water shortages.
  • $100 million for watershed health projects, including the design, implementation and monitoring of conservation outcomes of habitat restoration projects that improve watershed health. 
  • $100 million for small surface water and groundwater storage, which will invest in small water storage with a capacity of not less than 2,000 acre-feet and not more than 30,000 acre-feet and increases surface water or groundwater storage; or conveys water to or from surface water or groundwater storage. 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes one of the largest investments in drought resilience in the nation’s history, showing the urgent need to minimize the impacts of drought and develop a long-term plan. The Interior Department is helping to marshal existing resources and work in partnership with irrigators and local, state and Tribal governments to address and develop these long-term measures while combatting climate change and restoring lands, water and wildlife. 


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