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November 16, 2021  |  Written by Alyson E. Ackerman

Federal Funding to Bolster Current and Emerging Water Infrastructure of the West

The recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Act) may help ease varied water concerns across the country, especially in the West in regard to its supply issues. The Act is comprehensive, including provisions reauthorizing federal-aid highway, transit, and safety programs, establishing a rural bridge rebuilding and repair program, as well as strategies intended to reduce climate change impacts. Most notably for those in the West, the Act allocates significant funds to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) to support and improve the critical water-related infrastructure on which millions of Americans rely.

Below, is a list of some of the key investments of the Act, focused on western water infrastructure. The Act authorized the appropriation of the following sums:

      • $1.15 billion for water storage, groundwater storage, and conveyance projects;
      • $3.2 billion for the Aging Infrastructure Account;
      • $1 billion for rural water projects authorized before July 1, 2021;
      • $1 billion for water recycling and reuse projects;
      • $250 million for water desalination projects and studies;
      • $500 million for the Safety of Dams program;
      • $400 million for WaterSMART grants; and
      • $300 million for implementing the Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency Plan and related agreements.

The Act was presented to the President just last week, on November 8, 2021, and he signed it yesterday, November 15, 2021. It is one of the largest federal investments in infrastructure in decades – providing $550 billion in new spending.

The funding provided to Reclamation through the Act will help strengthen and rehabilitate existing water infrastructure. It also holds the potential to increase the prevalence of rarer or emerging water infrastructure projects that may have been unavailable to water purveyors due to costs, as well as diversify water planning portfolios as the West’s water supply issues increase.

For questions about how these recent developments may affect your existing or planned projects, please contact Alyson E. Ackerman at

Somach Simmons & Dunn provides the information in its Environmental Law & Policy Alerts and on its website for informational purposes only. This general information is not a substitute for legal advice, and users should consult with legal counsel for specific advice. In addition, using this information or sending electronic mail to Somach Simmons & Dunn or its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship with Somach Simmons & Dunn.

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