Reclamation's FY 2014 budget request includes dam safety, environmental management allocations

President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2014 budget request released this past week identifies a total of US$1.05 billion for the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Reclamation.

The 2014 budget is slightly less than the 2012 enacted level, which the bureau said is a reflection of Obama's "commitment to be prudent with taxpayer dollars while setting consistent spending priorities for Reclamation."

"The Reclamation budget announced today reflects this administration's commitment to creating and sustain jobs, while striving to meet water delivery requirements in the west," Commisioner Michael L. Connor said. "The fiscal year 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."

Reclamation said its budget request emphasizes reliable water delivery and power generation with $417.8 million allocated to fund operation, maintenance and rehabilitation at its facilities, including dam safety.

Also proposed is a $791.1 million allocation for Reclamation's Water and Related Resources account, which includes $373.3 million for resource management and development activities. This funding will be used for planning, construction, water conservation activities and management of Reclamation land.

"The budget emphasizes Reclamation's core mission to address the water needs of a growing population in an environmentally and cost-efficient manner," the agency said in a release. "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."

Specific of Reclamation's budget request include:

America's Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative -- The bureau said it has a "responsibility to focus on the protection of and restoration of the aquatic and riparian environments affected by its operations", and many of its AGO activities support Endangered Species Act (ESA) recovery programs. Specific allocations include:

WaterSMART Program -- The budget proposes $35.4 million for the WaterSMART Program to assist communities in stretching water supplies and improving water management. Included are:

Other hydroelectric and dam-related budget highlights include:

Reclamations budget also includes $99.7 million for the bureau's implementation of Indian Water Rights Settlements, with an allocation of $78.7 million being proposed to establish an Indian Water Rights Settlements account. This account will, Reclamation said, "ensure the continuity in the construction of five of the authorized projects and to highlight and enhance transparency in use of these funds."

The Bureau of Reclamation manages 476 dams and 337 reservoirs in 17 western states.

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