Department of Interior Announces New Large-Scale Water Recycling Program

Department of Interior Announces New Large-Scale Water Recycling Program

The Department of the Interior recently announced the launch of a new large-scale water recycling program and made $180 million in initial funding from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law available for projects aimed at creating new water supplies that are less vulnerable to drought and climate change. 

To date, the Bureau of Reclamation has invested $310 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for projects that advance water recycling and reuse. The new program aims to incentivize projects at a larger scale, with no cap on project size, and could play an important role in helping communities develop local, drought-resistant water supplies by turning unusable water sources into clean, reliable ones.

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 recent announcement is one of the many investments the Biden-Harris administration is implementing as part of a 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. 

“Water is essential to everything we do: feeding families, growing crops, powering agricultural businesses, sustaining wildlife and safeguarding Tribal subsistence practices,” says Secretary Deb Haaland. “As the climate crisis drives severe drought conditions and historically low water allocations, it will take all of us working together to safeguard our communities. Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we have historic new investments that are helping us to build a water supply that will sustain future generations.” 

The investments enable Reclamation to support work on multiple water recycling projects throughout the West, according to Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. "With this new program, we will be able to fund larger projects to grow local water supplies and serve more individuals. As we work to address the drought crisis, its critical we are advancing innovative, forward-looking solutions that help communities develop local, drought resistant water supplies.”

The funding opportunity — part of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program — is aimed at water management agencies considering or planning larger water reuse projects as part of strategies to address projected water supply shortages. The initial investment of $180 million announced recently is part of a total $450 million for this new program.  

In order to allow more flexibility in application, this opportunity has multiple application deadlines in 2023 and 2024. Projects that secure and stretch reliable water supplies for drought-stricken states and communities, provide water quality improvements, reduce impacts on projects owned by federal or state agencies, or provide benefits to disadvantaged, underserved and Tribal communities will be prioritized. More information is available on the website by searching “R23AS00433.”


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