WASHINGTON (PRWEB) April 10, 2013
President Obama's fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget request released today identifies a total of $1.050 billion for the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation, continuing the President's commitment to be prudent with taxpayer dollars while setting consistent spending priorities for Reclamation. The budget request for the nation's largest wholesale water supplier and second-largest producer of hydroelectric power includes the proposed transition of the Central Utah Project Completion Act (CUPCA) into the bureau's budget, instead of the departmental budget. On a comparable basis to include CUPCA funding, this amounts to a decrease of $26.8 million below the FY2012 enacted level and $33.4 million below the initial 2013 Continuing Resolution, P.L. 112-175.
"The Reclamation budget announced today reflects this administration's commitment to creating and sustaining jobs, while striving to meet water delivery requirements in the West," Commissioner Michael L. Connor said. "The FY 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. We're proud also to have funding in this budget to support our goals of strengthening tribal nations by implementing water rights settlements."
The proposal for Reclamation's Water and Related Resources account of $791.1 million includes $373.3 million for resource management and development activities. This funding provides for planning, construction, water conservation activities, management of Reclamation lands, including recreation, and actions to address the impacts of Reclamation projects on fish and wildlife. The request also emphasizes reliable water delivery and power generation by requesting $417.8 million to fund operation, maintenance and rehabilitation activities at Reclamation facilities, including dam safety.
The budget emphasizes Reclamation's core mission to address the water needs of a growing population in an environmentally responsible and cost-efficient manner; and to assist states, tribes and local entities in solving water resource issues. 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.
Reclamation's funding request addresses administration, departmental and bureau priorities, including America's Great Outdoors Initiative through ecosystem restoration, renewable energy, water conservation and the WaterSMART Program, strengthening tribal nations and youth recruitment activities.
The budget request proposes to transition the CUPCA Program into the Bureau of Reclamation as part of broader administration efforts to implement good government solutions, ensure consistent treatment of federal water projects, consolidate activities when possible and reduce duplication and overlap. The FY 2014 CUPCA budget is $3.5 million.
Specifics of the budget request include:
America's Great Outdoors Initiative – Reclamation has a responsibility to focus on the protection and restoration of the aquatic and riparian environments affected by its operations. Highlights of Reclamation's AGO ecosystem restoration activities, many of which support Endangered Species Act (ESA) recovery programs, include:
WaterSMART Program – The FY 2014 budget for Reclamation proposes $35.4 million for the WaterSMART Program – Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow — to assist communities in stretching water supplies and improving water management. The WaterSMART Program components include: WaterSMART Grants funded at $12 million; the Basin Studies Program funded at $4.7 million; the Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program funded at $14 million; a new external water resources grants program — the Shared Investment Water Innovation Program — funded at $1 million; the Water Conservation Field Services Program, funded at $3.4 million; and the Cooperative Watershed Management Program, funded at $250,000.
Strengthening tribal nations – The total budget for Reclamation's implementation of Indian Water Rights Settlements in 2014 is $99.7 million in current funding. Of this amount, Reclamation is proposing establishment of an Indian Water Rights Settlements account of $78.7 million to ensure continuity in the construction of five of the authorized projects and to highlight and enhance transparency in use of these funds.
This includes $18.2 million to continue implementation of the four settlements authorized in the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. These settlements will deliver clean water to the Taos Pueblo of New Mexico, the Pueblos of New Mexico named in the Aamodt case, the Crow Tribe of Montana and the White Mountain Apache Tribe of Arizona. The budget also includes $60.5 million for the ongoing Navajo-Gallup Water Supply project (Title X of Public Law 111-11). Additionally, $60 million in new permanent authority is available in 2014 for the Indian water rights settlements.
The budget also requests $21 million in the Water and Related Resources Account for on-going settlement operation and maintenance functions including the Ak Chin Indian Water Rights Settlement Act, San Carlos Apache Tribe Water Settlement Act, Colorado Ute Settlement Act Animas-La Plata Project and Nez Perce/Snake River Water Rights Act which is part of the Columbia and Snake River Recovery Project.
Other project highlights include –
The Bureau of Reclamation, throughout the 17 western states, is committed to helping meet the many water challenges of the West. A driving force behind bureau initiatives is resolution of water issues that will benefit future generations and providing leadership on the path to sustainable water supplies.