WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today announced $50 million over the next five years to improve key water infrastructure and enhance drought-related data collection across the Upper Colorado River Basin. The Bureau of Reclamation is making an initial $8.7 million investment in fiscal year 2023 to support drought mitigation efforts in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming that will help ensure compliance with interstate water compact obligations, maintain the ability to generate hydropower at Glen Canyon Dam, and minimize adverse effects to resources and infrastructure in the Upper Basin.
President Biden’s Investing in America agenda represent the largest investment in climate resilience in the nation’s history and is providing much-needed resources to enhance Western communities’ resilience to drought and climate change, including protecting the short- and long-term sustainability of the Colorado River System. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Reclamation is investing a total of $8.3 billion over five years for water infrastructure projects, including water purification and reuse, water storage and conveyance, desalination and dam safety. The Inflation Reduction Act is investing an additional $4.6 billion to address the historic drought. Today’s announcement is one of the many historic investments the Biden-Harris administration is implementing as part of an all-of-government effort to make the Colorado River Basin and all the communities that rely on it more resilient to climate change, including the ongoing drought in the West.
“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to bringing every tool and every resource to bear to as we work with states, Tribes, and communities throughout the West to find long-term solutions in the face of climate change and the sustained drought it is creating,” said Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau. “As we look toward the next decade of Colorado River guidelines and strategies, we are simultaneously making smart investments now that will make our path forward stronger and more sustainable.”
“Resources from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda are allowing us to meet a number of program needs across the Colorado River System, including expanding the Basin’s existing network of instrumentation to improve water accounting, weather predicting and monitoring,” said Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “Today’s funding will enhance critical data and empower us with the best-available science and technology to more accurately measure the Upper Basin’s consumptive water use.”
The initial $8.7 million announced today will purchase and place 12 new eddy covariance stations. Reclamation will locate the stations throughout the basin to measure evapotranspiration, a key measurement for determining consumptive water use. There are currently four of these stations in the Upper Basin, one placed in each of the Upper Basin states. Reclamation and the Upper Basin states, along with other partners, studied evapotranspiration in the Upper Basin from 2018 through 2020. The data that was collected and analyzed provided critical insight and demonstrated the need and value of expanding the data gathering ability.
This funding helps further Drought Contingency Planning activities in the Upper Colorado River Basin and is consistent with the obligations of the Secretary under the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act (P.L. 116-14) and related agreements.
To date, the Interior Department has announced the following investments for Colorado River Basin states, which will yield hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water savings each year once these projects are complete:
Courtesy of U.S. Department of the Interior.
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