How Biden's infrastructure law benefits Utah, Western states

One of two Arthur V. Watkins Dam siphon pipes that will be replaced with a direct outlet pipe is visible in Willard Bay’s low water levels in Box Elder County on May 20. Funding for replacement of the siphon pipes was recently included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

One of two Arthur V. Watkins Dam siphon pipes that will be replaced with a direct outlet pipe is visible in Willard Bay’s low water levels in Box Elder County on May 20. Funding for replacement of the siphon pipes was recently included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Seven water-related projects in Utah will share $22 million as part of President Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure bill with an aim to boost climate resilience as the drought continues to grip the West.

The money is part of the $84 million directed to climate resiliency projects to enhance Western states' ability to adapt and be more efficient in water use.

"As climate change exacerbates drought impacts throughout the western United States, the bipartisan infrastructure law is advancing our work to invest in innovative, locally led water infrastructure projects and provide clean, reliable water to families and communities across the country," said Tanya Trujillo, the Interior assistant secretary for water and science. "Today's funding will assist our local partners as they work to build drought resilience and improve water security for their community."

The law allocates $8.3 billion for Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure projects over the next five years to advance drought resilience and expand access to clean water for families, farmers and wildlife, according to the Interior. The investment will repair aging water delivery systems, secure dams, complete rural water projects and protect aquatic ecosystems.

The funding announcement is part of $1 billion provided through the law for the innovative WaterSMART program, which supports states, tribes and local entities as they plan for and implement actions to increase water supply through investments to modernize existing infrastructure and avoid potential water conflicts.

"Drought resilience is more important now than ever as the West is experiencing more severe and longer droughts," added Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. "This investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in locally-led projects will help solidify community's water supplies and allow families and farmers to respond to the challenges posed by drought."

Aging infrastructure is a big, expensive problem as communities grapple with systems that are either nearing their end of life stage or are already there.

As an example, the Gateway Tunnel in Morgan County has been a conduit for water to residents in Davis and Weber counties for nearly 66 years, with a flow rate sufficient to fill a football stadium with 25 feet of water every hour.

The tunnel serves the needs of nearly 700,000 people, but the district is spending big money to add additional pipelines for water delivery to points both north and south to add redundancy to the system.

In terms of the funding from the Biden infrastructure law, the district will get $3.7 million for work at Willard Bay and Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District will see an infusion of $3.2 million for increased groundwater production capacity and aquifer storage and recovery. Clinton City gets $2 million for a city well and water storage project.

Other Utah recipients include:

  • Draper Irrigation Company, reuse pump station, $5 million.
  • Granger-West Corinne Water Company, culinary well and booster pump project, $2 million.
  • Hunter Improvement District, Anderson water treatment plant and well No. 18, $5 million.
  • Liberty Pipeline Company, drought resiliency project, $1.5 million.

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Amy Joi O'Donoghue
Amy Joi O’Donoghue is a reporter for the Utah InDepth team at the Deseret News with decades of expertise in land and environmental issues.

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