Bipartisan infrastructure law to invest in aquatic habitats, watersheds


WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior on July 7 announced a $36.1-million investment, including $26.7 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds, to safeguard local water supplies in the wake of record drought across the West.

Twenty-seven projects in 12 states – including two in Wyoming – and the first-ever in Puerto Rico will be awarded funding to advance quantifiable and sustained water savings by protecting watersheds impacted by wildland fire, restoring aquatic habitats and stream beds and advancing other environmental restoration projects to mitigate drought-related impacts. These investments will be leveraged through partnerships with local communities to address regional water challenges, including projects to address damage left by the Caldor Fire in California and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

One project is local and spearheaded by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Game and Fish will receive $100,000 for New Fork River Gas Wells River Restoration and Fish Habitat Improvement.

These funds follow a $25.5-million investment announced last month allocated for 14 water efficiency projects across eight western states.

“President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is advancing locally-led initiatives to address severe and historic western drought,” saidDOI Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo. ”Through the Water Smart program funded under this law, we are addressing a variety of regional challenges to increase water reliability and accessibility for families, farmers and Tribes. Today’s investment will conserve water, restore riparian habitat and stream function, and improve watershed health to benefit local supplies and the surrounding environment.”

“Adequate and safe water supplies are fundamental to the health, economy and security of the country. By restoring ecosystems and improving the health of rivers and watersheds, we can provide more local communities reliable access to water,” said Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “These grants invest in water management projects that will directly benefit plant and animal species, fish and wildlife habitat and ecosystems.”

Overall, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $8.3 billion to address water and drought challenges for the nation’s western water and power infrastructure by repairing aging water delivery systems, securing dams, completing rural water projects, protecting aquatic ecosystems and fulfilling Indian Water Rights Settlements.

The funding announced July 7 is part of $160 million in WaterSMART grants provided by the Law in 2022. Local governments in states set to receive funding must complete their project within three years. Through a 25-percent cost-share, a total of $56.2 million in federal and non-federal investments will be leveraged to support selected projects.

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