The Department of the Interior has announced new drought mitigation funding opportunities to improve and protect the long-term sustainability of the Colorado River System.
A newly created Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program, funded with an initial allocation through the Inflation Reduction Act and managed through the Bureau of Reclamation, will 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.
“The prolonged drought afflicting the West is one of the most significant challenges facing our country. I have seen firsthand how climate change is exacerbating the drought crisis and putting pressure on the communities who live across Western landscapes,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Thanks to historic funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, the Interior Department is committed to using every resource available to conserve water and ensure that irrigators, Tribes and adjoining communities receive adequate assistance and support to build resilient communities and protect our water supplies.”
The availability of this new funding goes with the actions announced in August 2022 as part of Reclamation’s release of the Colorado River Basin August 2022 24-Month Study, which sets the annual operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead in 2023. It also builds on new and urgent actions recently announced by Department leaders to improve and protect the long-term sustainability of the Colorado River System.
The Inflation Reduction Act includes $4 billion in funding specifically for water management and conservation efforts in the Colorado River Basin and other areas experiencing similar levels of drought. This announcement focuses on near-term actions to protect the Colorado River in the Lower Basin. The Department is also working to invest in long-term system efficiency improvements across the Basin, including at least $500 million in the Upper Basin states of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico, that will result in additional water conservation for the entire system.
The newly created Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program will select projects for funding by Colorado River water delivery contract or entitlement holders that mitigate drought, protect important natural resources, and ensure a reliable source of water and power for those who live in communities across the West.
The program funding opportunity has three components. Two of the three components are open for proposal submissions from Oct. 12 to Nov. 21, 2022 and require confirmation of water conservation and system benefits.