Washington, D.C. — President Obama's fiscal year 2015 budget request identifies a total of $1 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation. As the nation's largest wholesale water supplier and second-largest producer of hydroelectric power, Reclamation's projects and programs are critical to driving and maintaining economic growth in the western states.
"This budget reflects not only the President's vision of opportunity and growth but also his strong commitment to meet water delivery requirements in the West in the face of dry conditions and a changing climate," said acting Commissioner Lowell Pimley. "With this request, we are reinforcing our commitment to promote efficient water deliveries and power generation, implement critical river and environmental restoration programs, continue our focus on water-related activities to support tribal nations, and stretch water supplies through recycling and conservation."
The proposal for Reclamation's Water and Related Resources account of $760.7 million includes $343.5 million for resource management and development activities. This funding provides for planning, construction, water conservation activities, management of Reclamation lands – including recreation – and actions to address the impacts of Reclamation projects on fish and wildlife. The request also emphasizes reliable water delivery and power generation by requesting $417.2 million to fund operation, maintenance, and rehabilitation activities at Reclamation facilities, including dam safety initiatives.
The budget emphasizes Reclamation's core mission to address the water needs of a growing population in an environmentally responsible and cost-efficient manner and to assist states, tribes and local entities in solving water resource issues. It also emphasizes the operation and maintenance of Reclamation facilities in a safe, efficient, economic and reliable manner – ensuring systems and safety measures are in place to protect the public and Reclamation facilities.
Reclamation's funding request addresses administration, departmental and bureau priorities, including opportunities to enhance America's Great Outdoors through ecosystem restoration, renewable energy, water conservation through the WaterSMART Program, to strengthen tribal nations, and engage the next generation of Americans in resource-related issues.
WaterSMART Program – The FY 2015 budget for Reclamation proposes $52.1 million for the WaterSMART Program (Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow) to assist communities in stretching water supplies and improving water management. WaterSMART components include: WaterSMART Grants funded at $19 million; the Basin Studies Program funded at $3.9 million; the Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program funded at $21.5 million; the Water Conservation Field Service program funded at $4.5 million; the Cooperative Watershed Management program funded at $250,000; the new Drought Response program funded at $1.5 million; and the new Resilient Infrastructure program funded at $1.5 million.
Strengthening Tribal Nations – The FY 2015 Budget proposes $90 million for Indian Water Rights Settlements, in a new account of the same name to ensure continuity in the construction of four of the authorized projects and to highlight and enhance transparency in handling these funds. The budget includes $81 million for the ongoing Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project (Title X of Public Law 111-11). The budget also includes $9 million to continue implementation of three settlements authorized in the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. These settlements will deliver clean water to the Taos Pueblo of New Mexico, the Pueblos of New Mexico named in the Aamodt case, and the Crow Tribe of Montana.
The budget request proposes to transition the Central Utah Project Completion Act Program into the Bureau of Reclamation as part of broader administration efforts to implement good government solutions, ensure consistent treatment of federal water projects, consolidate activities when possible and reduce duplication and overlap. The FY 2015 CUPCA budget is $7.3 million.
Specifics of the budget request include:
America's Great Outdoors Initiative – Reclamation has a responsibility to focus on the protection and restoration of the aquatic and riparian environments affected by its operations. The America’s Great Outdoors Initiative includes $116 million for Reclamation river restoration projects. Highlights of Reclamation's ecosystem restoration activities, many of which support Endangered Species Act recovery programs, include:
· $118.6 million to operate, manage and improve California's Central Valley Project. More than half of the funding provides for operation and maintenance of project facilities, including $16.4 million for the Replacements, Additions and Extraordinary Maintenance program – which is used for modernization, upgrade and refurbishment of facilities throughout the Central Valley. Within the CVP total, $11.9 million and an additional $2 million in the CVP Restoration Fund are for the Trinity River Restoration Program.
· $28.3 million for the Lower Colorado River Operations Program, of which $16.2 million is for the Multi-Species Conservation Program to provide long-term ESA compliance for river operations.
· $32 million for activities consistent with the settlement of Natural Resources Defense Council v. Rodgers as authorized by the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act to restore and maintain fish populations, and avoid adverse water impacts.
· $22.7 million for ESA recovery implementation programs, including $15.1 million to implement the Platte River Endangered Species Recovery Implementation Program and $5.1 million for the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program.
· $18 million for the Klamath Project, which supports studies and initiatives to improve water supplies to meet the competing demands of agricultural, tribal, wildlife refuge and environmental needs along with facilities operations and maintenance activities.
· $37 million for California Bay-Delta Restoration. The account focuses on the health of the Bay-Delta ecosystem and improving water management and supplies. The budget will support the coequal goals of environmental restoration and improved water supply reliability under the following program activities: $1.7 million for a Renewed Federal State Partnership, $8 million for Smarter Water Supply and Use, and $27.4 million for Habitat Restoration. These program activities are based on the Interim Federal Action Plan for the California Bay-Delta issued December 22, 2009.
· $57 million for the Central Valley Project Restoration Fund to continue funding a variety of activities to restore fish and wildlife habitat and populations within the CVP service area of California.
· $22.7 million for the Middle Rio Grande Project, of which $7.9 million is targeted to support environmental activities developed through the Endangered Species Act Collaborative Program.
· $17 million for the Columbia and Snake River Salmon Recovery Project for implementation of the biological opinions for the Federal Columbia River Power System.
Other Budget Highlights Include:
· $34.1 million for rural water projects to undertake the design and construction of five projects and operation and maintenance of tribal features for two projects intended to deliver potable water supplies to specific rural communities and tribes located primarily in Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota.
· A total of $11 million for the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project, which will continue funding grants to implement conservation measures and monitor the effects of those measures on the river diversions.
· $82.9 million for the Dam Safety Program to continue dam safety risk management and risk reduction activities throughout Reclamation's inventory of dams. Corrective actions are planned to start or continue at a number of facilities. A major focus continues to be modifications at Folsom Dam in California.
· $26.2 million for Reclamation's ongoing site-security program that includes physical security upgrades at key facilities, guards and patrols, anti-terrorism program activities and security risk assessments.
The Bureau of Reclamation, throughout the 17 western states, is committed to helping meet the many water challenges of the West. A driving force behind bureau initiatives is resolution of water issues that will benefit future generations and providing leadership on the path to sustainable water supplies.