Biden Administration Allocates $310 Million in Funding for Water Reuse Projects as Drought Grips Much of US

The Biden administration announced on Aug. 18 that nearly $310 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is being allocated to help aid water reuse projects across the country as drought conditions worsen.

The announcement comes following Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland’s and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton’s two-day tour through central and southern California, which included a visit to the Syphon Reservoir Improvement Project at the Irvine Ranch Water District.

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Interior, approximately $309.8 million in funding from President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law, which was passed in November last year, will go toward the planning, design, and construction of the water reuse projects. That bill allocated $8.3 billion to the Bureau of Reclamation for water infrastructure projects.

An additional $1 million in “appropriated funding” will also go toward the projects, according to the press release.

“The selected projects will advance drought resilience and are expected to increase annual capacity by about 213,000 acre-feet of water, enough water to support more than 850,000 people a year,” the Department of Interior said.

During their two-day visit to central and southern California, Haaland and Touton highlighted “how investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help address the worsening drought crisis and expand access to clean drinking water for families, farmers, and wildlife,” the press release states.

California is currently in the midst of a strong drought and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) last week warned that the state may lose 10 percent of its water supply by 2040 due to intensely hotter and drier conditions, which Newsom says is being prompted by climate change.

As fears mount over a decline in water availability, Newsom unveiled a new water-supply strategy that will enhance conservation efforts and prioritize capturing, recycling, and de-salting water.

Stretching Water Supplies

California has invested more than $8 billion in water infrastructure and management over the past two years.

Meanwhile, under the latest announcement from the Department of Interior the Syphon Reservoir Improvement Project, which aims to store more recycled water to meet seasonal and future needs, will receive $12.2 million in funding.

Funding will also go toward supporting local water management agencies in stretching existing drinking water supplies, according to officials, and towards ensuring that “growing water needs can be met through the advanced treatment of wastewater and naturally impaired surface and groundwater.”

“Along with non-federal contributions, today’s investment will support an overall $1.2 billion in infrastructure projects,” the press release states.

“Water is essential to everything we do and it will take all of us, working together, to address the significant drought impacts we are seeing across the West. As the climate crisis drives severe drought conditions and historically low water allocations, President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is making historic investments to address water and drought challenges and invest in our nation’s western water and power infrastructure,” said Haaland.

However, not everyone was happy with the announcement of the new funding.

“$310 million does not provide new water supply, and we are running dry in California,” said Steve Sheldon, president of the Orange County Water District, The Los Angeles Times reports. “Instead of sprinkling multimillion-dollar grants to projects that by and large will already be built, our federal and state government should prioritize funding and expedite approvals to construct large-scale water supply facilities that under existing circumstances would not be constructed.”

As of Aug. 16, 41.23 percent of the United States and 49.18 percent of the lower 48 states are in a drought, according to The National Integrated Drought Information System.

From The Epoch Times