President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2014 budget request released this past week identifies a total of US$1.05 billion for the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation.
The 2014 budget is slightly less than the 2012 enacted level, which the bureau said is a reflection of Obama’s “commitment to be prudent with taxpayer dollars while setting consistent spending priorities for Reclamation.”
“The Reclamation budget announced today reflects this administration’s commitment to creating and sustain jobs, while striving to meet water delivery requirements in the west,” Commisioner Michael L. Connor said. “The fiscal year 2014 budget reflects many difficult budget choices, with cost-cutting actions, in order to fund the highest priority requirements — promoting efficient water deliveries and power generation, while also actively implementing critical river restoration programs.”
Reclamation said its budget request emphasizes reliable water delivery and power generation with $417.8 million allocated to fund operation, maintenance and rehabilitation at its facilities, including dam safety.
Also proposed is a $791.1 million allocation for Reclamation’s Water and Related Resources account, which includes $373.3 million for resource management and development activities. This funding will be used for planning, construction, water conservation activities and management of Reclamation land.
“The budget emphasizes Reclamation’s core mission to address the water needs of a growing population in an environmentally and cost-efficient manner,” the agency said in a release. “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.”
Specific of Reclamation’s budget request include:
America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative — The bureau said it has a “responsibility to focus on the protection of and restoration of the aquatic and riparian environments affected by its operations”, and many of its AGO activities support Endangered Species Act (ESA) recovery programs. Specific allocations include:
- $152.5 million for the Central Valley Project (CVP). Within this total, $14 million and an additional $2 million in the CVP Restoration Fund is for the Trinity River Restoration Program, and $38.2 million continues court-ordered actions for drainage services in the West San Joaquin Division, San Luis Unit.
- $27.8 million Lower Colorado River Operations Program, of which $18.2 million is for the Multi-Species Conservation Program to provide long-term ESA compliance for river operations.
- $26 million for activities consistent with the settlement of Natural Resources Defences Council v. Rodgers as authorized by the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act to restore and maintain fish populations, and restore and avoid adverse water impacts.
- $21.2 million for ESA recovery implementation programs, including $10.1 million to implement the Platte River Endangered Species Recovery Implementation Program and $8.4 million for the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basin Endangered Fish Recovery Programs.
- $18 million for the Klamath Project, which supports studies and initiatives to improve water supplies to mee the competing demands of agricultural, tribal, wildlife refuge and environmental needs along with facilities operations and maintenance activities.
- $37 million for the California Bay-Delta Restoration Fund activities aligned with the Interim Federal Action Plan issued Dec. 22, 2009 — including $22.5 million to address the degraded Bay-Delta ecosystem; $9.9 million for smarter water supply and use and $1.7 million for a renewed federal-state partnership.
- $53.3 million for the Central Valley Project Restoration Fund to continue funding a variety of activities to restore fish and wildlife habitat and populations in the CVP area of California.
- $25.9 million for the Middle Rio Grande Project, of which $10.2 million is targeted to support environmental activities developed through the ESA Collaborative Program.
- $18 million for the Columbia and Snake River Salmon Recovery Project for implementation of the biological opinions for the Federal Columbia River Power System.
WaterSMART Program — The budget proposes $35.4 million for the WaterSMART Program to assist communities in stretching water supplies and improving water management. Included are:
- $12 million for WaterSMART Grants
- $4.7 million for the Basin Studies Program
- $14 million for the Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program
- $1 million for the Shared Investment Water Innovation Program
- $3.4 million for the Water Conservation Field Services Program
- $250,000 for the Cooperative Watershed Management Program
Other hydroelectric and dam-related budget highlights include:
- $15.4 million for the Yakima River Basin, including $7.4 million to operate and maintain existing project facilities and $8 million for the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project.
- $88.1 million for the Dam Safety Program to continue dam safety risk management and risk reduction activities throughout Reclamation’s inventory of dams. The agency said “corrective actions are planned to start or continue at a number of facilities”, with a major focus continuing to be Folsom Dam in California.
- $27.8 million for site security to continue Reclamation’s site security program.
Reclamations budget also includes $99.7 million for the bureau’s implementation of Indian Water Rights Settlements, with an allocation of $78.7 million being proposed to establish an Indian Water Rights Settlements account. This account will, Reclamation said, “ensure the continuity in the construction of five of the authorized projects and to highlight and enhance transparency in use of these funds.”
The Bureau of Reclamation manages 476 dams and 337 reservoirs in 17 western states.