SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The U.S. Dept. of the Interior has announced a $50 million investment over the next five years to improve water infrastructure and strengthen drought-related data collection across the Upper Colorado River Basin.

The Bureau of Reclamation is reportedly making an $8.7 million initial investment to support drought mitigation efforts in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. These investments are meant to maintain the ability to generate hydropower at Glen Canyon Dam, minimize adverse effects to resources in infrastructure in the Upper Basin, and ensure compliance with interstate water compact obligations.

The $50 million investment is part of President Biden’s Investing in America plan. The initiative is intended to fight climate change and provide resources to fight drought in the West. This includes protecting the sustainability of the Colorado River System.

Officials said the Bureau of Reclamation is investing a total of $8.3 billion over five years for water infrastructure projects. These projects include water purification and reuse, water storage and conveyance, desalination, and dam safety.

The Inflation Reduction Act is reportedly investing another $4.6 billion to address the drought.

“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to bringing every tool and every resource to bear to as we work with states, Tribes, and communities throughout the West to find long-term solutions in the face of climate change and the sustained drought it is creating,” said Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau. “As we look toward the next decade of Colorado River guidelines and strategies, we are simultaneously making smart investments now that will make our path forward stronger and more sustainable.”

To date, the Dept. of the Interior has made commitments to the following investments for Colorado River Basin states:

  • $281 million for 21 water recycling projects that are expected to increase annual water capacity by 127,000 acre-feet annually
  • Up to $233 million in water conservation funding for the Gila River Indian Community, including $83 million for a water pipeline project and an additional $50 million from the Inflation Reduction Act through the Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program, which will also provide similar investments in 2024 and 2025
  • Over $73 million for infrastructure repairs on water delivery systems, $19.3 million in fiscal year 2022 and another $54 million in April
  • $71 million for 32 drought resiliency projects to expand access to water through groundwater storage, rainwater harvesting, aquifer recharge and water treatment
  • $20 million in new small surface and groundwater storage investments
  • Eight new System Conservation Implementation Agreements in Arizona that will commit water entities in the Tucson and Phoenix metro areas to conserve up to 140,000-acre feet of water in Lake Mead in 2023, and up to 393,000-acre feet through 2025