By: Annick Miller Rivera | Senior Policy Advisor, Water Strategies, LLC

On March 11, President Trump released his fiscal year 2020 (FY20) budget request. The budget proposes $1.1 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), an increase from the $1.05 billion requested last fiscal year.

In Reclamation’s budget, there are several funding opportunities for the Columbia Basin Project (CBP). These are CBP’s line item, the WaterSMART program, and the additional funds Congress appropriates to Reclamation.

In FY19, funding for the CBP was $12.9 million – the level requested by the President. However, the overall funding for the CBP in FY19 was $21.25 million. The increase in funding came from the third category listed above, the additional funds Congress appropriates to Reclamation. In FY19, Congress included funds totaling $394.6 million for Reclamation that were not specified for any particular program, project or activity.  From these funds, the CBP received an additional $8.35 million. Some of the programs that benefited from these funds were the Pasco Pump Lateral, Odessa Ground Water Replacement Program, and the Potholes Supplemental Feed.

In FY20, the President is requesting $20.6 million, a $7.7 million increase. Details on where these additional funds will be spent are not available yet. Reclamation’s budget justifications, the document which lists how the money within the CBP line item will be spent is not expected to be released until March 18.

The second funding opportunity is through the WaterSMART program. FY20 funding for the WaterSMART Program is $19.9 million, of which $10 million is for grants. This is the same request level as FY19 and is significantly lower than requests made by previous budgets. As previously mentioned, Congress has the authority to fund programs at any level it deems appropriate. The WaterSMART program is an example where Congress has continually funded a program at higher levels than requested. In FY19 Congress provided $113 million to the WaterSMART program, of which $34 million were for grants.

While Congress has provided additional funds to Reclamation over the past several years, these increases are not guaranteed. The Columbia Basin Development League continues to advocate to Congress and the Administration to ensure these programs and funding opportunities continue to receive the robust support in future years. Washington State is well represented in both chambers. Congressman Newhouse (WA-04) and Congresswoman Herrera Beutler (WA-03) are members of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, and Senator Patty Murray (WA) serves on the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee these subcommittees provide funding for the Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers. Washington State’s congressional delegation must be utilized when discussing the importance of a federal funding for programs that matter to the Columbia Basin Development League. During a tight fiscal climate, it is important to highlight the added value that water infrastructure programs can provide. To that effect, the Columbia Basin Development League will relay this message in person during a federal advocacy trip to Washington, D.C. in May.

The President’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget is available at: www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget

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