President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda Will Save 3-Million-Acre-Feet of Water by 2026, Enhancing Drought Resilience and Strengthening Water Security

The Biden-Harris Administration is leading a comprehensive effort to make Western communities more resilient to climate change and address the ongoing megadrought across the region by harnessing the full resources of President Biden’s historic Investing in America agenda. As climate change has accelerated over the past two decades, the Colorado River Basin experienced the driest period in the region in over one thousand years. Together, the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provide the largest investment in climate resilience in our nation’s history, including $15.4 billion for western water to enhance the West’s resilience to drought and deliver unprecedented resources to protect the Colorado River System for all whose lives and livelihoods depend on it.

Following extensive engagement with states, Tribes, and water users, and leveraging the resources from the President’s Investing in America agenda, today the Administration is taking historic action to conserve at least 3 million-acre-feet of water in the Colorado River Basin through the end of 2026.

The Colorado River Basin provides water for more than 40 million people, fuels hydropower resources in eight states, supports agriculture and agricultural communities across the West, and is a crucial resource for 30 Tribal Nations. With this significant milestone, unprecedented conservation investments, and improved hydrology, the Biden-Harris Administration has staved off the immediate threat facing the Colorado River System, water deliveries, and power production throughout the region, making the region’s water resources more secure and sustainable since President Biden took office.

Today the Administration is also announcing three new conservation agreements in California that will yield hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water savings in Lake Mead. These System Conservation Implementation Agreements, totaling nearly $160 million in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, build upon 21 previous agreements in the Basin. Together, these 24 agreements have provided approximately $670.2 million to the region and will secure more than 1.58 million acre-feet of water conservation in the Basin through 2026.

The conservation agreements announced today include:

  • A second agreement with Coachella Valley Water District, which commits up to 30,000 acre-feet of conserved water through 2026;
  • An agreement with Palo Verde Irrigation District in cooperation with Metropolitan Water District, which commits up to 351,063 acre-feet of conserved water through 2026; and
  • An agreement with Bard Water District in cooperation with Metropolitan Water District, which commits up to 18,090 acre-feet of conserved water through 2026.

These announcements build on a series of historic investments and actions taken by the Biden-Harris Administration to protect communities across the West from drought, now and into the future.

Biden-Harris Administration’s Whole-of-Government Commitment to Drought Resilience in the Colorado River Basin and Across the West

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes $8.3 billion over five years for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation to support water infrastructure projects, including water purification and reuse, water storage and conveyance, desalination, and dam safety. Reclamation has already provided more than $2.9 billion to fund 425 Western water projects through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. Such projects include:

  • $825 million to 131 aging infrastructure projects. In 2023 alone, Reclamation announced $585 million for 83 projects in 11 states, including $22 million for repairs to the Friant Kern canal and $8.24 million for repair and replacement projects at the Imperial Dam All American Canal Desilting Basin. Reclamation will announce a third round of investments to repair and replace aging infrastructure later this spring.
  • $362 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for eight water storage and conveyance projects, including $187 million for three water storage projects in California and $160 million for the Arkansas Valley Conduit in Colorado. The projects will enhance water supply reliability and climate resiliency. In April 2023, Reclamation and partners celebrated the start of construction on the Arkansas Valley Conduit, a project that has been more than 60 years in the making. Reclamation will announce additional allocations in the coming months.
  • Six funding opportunities—currently open for application—with approximately $230 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law available for large scale recycling projects, desalination construction, Title XVI, cooperative watershed management, and planning and project design.
  • $763 million to seven rural water projects across the West. Last fall, Reclamation announced $65 million for six rural water projects already under construction or in planning in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota. The projects will bring clean, reliable drinking water to rural communities.
  • Up to $50 million available in 2024 through the WaterSMART Program from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for water and energy efficiency projects aimed at enhancing the resilience of western states to impacts of drought and climate change.
  • $83 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure and annual appropriations to the Gila River Community’s Reclaimed Water Pipeline Project, which will expand water reuse and conservation. When completed, the project will provide up to 20,000 acre-feet annually for Colorado River System conservation with a minimum of 78,000 acre-feet committed to remain Lake Mead.
  • Up to $5.6 million for the Gila River Indian Community Solar-Over-Casa Blanca Canal Project to construct canal-spanning solar panels over the Casa Blanca Canal within the Gila River Indian Reservation. The project will cover 2,782 feet of canal with approximately 2,556 solar panels. It is expected to conserve an estimated 201 acre-feet of water and produce 2,258 MWh of power annually over the panels’ 25-year life cycle. Reclamation will announce funding to additional solar-over-canal projects across the West in the near future.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has invested in the West to increase water availability, increase resilience, and reduce water use, including in the Colorado River Basin:

  • Funded $92 million Environmental Infrastructure projects in the seven Colorado River Basin states through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These projects include reclaimed water pipelines, brackish groundwater desalination facilities, and repairs of existing infrastructure. 
  • Increasing groundwater recharge projects throughout the West. Through Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations, USACE has been leading a multi-agency research and development initiative that is focused on aquifer recharge throughout the West. Preliminary results in Orange County, California indicate that an average increase of 7,000 acre-feet of water per year may be available for recharging local underground aquifers. USACE is in the process of completing assessments on 85 sites in the West.
  • Increasing ecosystem resilience within the Colorado River Basin and connected watersheds. USACE has invested $1.5 million of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for evaluating restoration solutions in the Salton Sea.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has invested billions of dollars in projects that aim to conserve, reuse, and enhance water resources in the West. This support includes:

  • USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced the Western Water and Working Lands Framework for Conservation Action (Western Water Framework). The Western Water Framework provides a roadmap for how NRCS assistance can be used to conserve and enhance water resources in 17 Western States and helps producers and communities conserve water, address climate change, and build drought resilience through voluntary programs and science-based solutions. This work includes leveraging the funding available from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • Nearly $1.1 billion in Regional Conservation Partnership Program Projects (RCPP), leveraging both Farm Bill and Inflation Reduction Act funds.  The Colorado River Basin is one of eight Critical Conservation Areas (CCA) designated by the Secretary for drought and water conservation. RCPP funded projects included over $60 million in the Colorado River Basin CCA and another $67 million in the Western Waters CCA.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has leveraged more than $9 billion in the last two years alone to communities across the West and in particular to the Colorado River Basin states. This support includes EPA’s (SRFs) EPA’s State Revolving Funds (SRFs), Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, and other grants to provide drought relief, water supply diversification, and other infrastructure improvements to communities:

  • More than $2.5 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and annual funding to the SRFs provided to the seven Colorado River Basin states for a range of infrastructure needs, including aquifer storage and recovery, water reuse, green infrastructure, flood diversion and storage, water loss audits, meter replacement, groundwater replenishment, and nature-based solutions. Over time, these activities will reduce withdrawals from the Colorado River and other rivers in the region.
  • Leveraged approximately $7 billion, for 24 projects, from EPA’s WIFIA program to support Colorado River Basin drought initiatives. These projects include efforts to recycle wastewater, increase water storage, install water meters, and prevent saltwater intrusion in aquifers. EPA is reviewing applications to support another dozen drought-related initiatives totaling billions of dollars.
  • $19 million in grant funding to address natural hazards, like drought, in underserved and small or disadvantaged communities. In September 2023, EPA announced $19 million in new grant funding that will work to improve the climate resilience of the nation’s water infrastructure. EPA’s Drinking Water System Infrastructure Resilience and Sustainability Grant Program will support drinking water systems in underserved, small, and disadvantaged communities that are working to prepare for and reduce vulnerability to impacts from climate change, ranging from extreme drought to extreme flooding.
  • Convened EPA leadership and state environmental secretaries to identify strategies to expand the SRF drought mitigation project pipeline. In May 2023, EPA convened a dialogue with key state funding partners and the environmental and infrastructure secretaries from the seven Colorado River Basin states to discuss strategies to maximize long-term withdrawal reductions using SRF-eligible projects, and opportunities to build the pipeline of drought mitigation projects on states’ Intended Use Plans.


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