“River Budget” outlines federal funding priorities for clean water and healthy rivers 

February 2, 2022

Contact: Ted Illston, 202-834-3657 

Amy Souers Kober, 503-708-1145 

American Rivers today released the “River Budget: National Priorities for Healthy Rivers and Clean Water (FY23)”, endorsed by 47 partner organizations, outlining priorities for federal spending to ensure a future of clean water and healthy rivers everywhere, for everyone.

Rivers are essential to life. They provide drinking water, nurture fish and wildlife, power our economy, connect us to the natural world and are vital to healthy, thriving communities. But rivers and clean water supplies are threatened by pollution, dams, climate change and crumbling infrastructure, with Black, Indigenous, Latino and other communities of color feeling disproportionate impacts.  

“This moment demands bold action for clean water and rivers,” said Tom Kiernan, President and CEO of American Rivers. “Equitable investment in clean water and healthy rivers is vital to helping solve the interconnected challenges of climate change, injustice and biodiversity loss. American Rivers and our partners urge President Biden and Congress to prioritize these investments.”   

The River Budget includes priorities in four key categories: 

Improve water infrastructure:  

The American Society of Civil Engineers rates the nation’s drinking water infrastructure at C- and its stormwater infrastructure at D. Fortifying our nation’s drinking water and wastewater facilities to be resilient and sustainable requires urgent investment, especially in proven solutions like green stormwater infrastructure. The River Budget calls on Congress to appropriate necessary funds to address the scale of the drinking and clean water infrastructure crises. 

  • $3.87 billion – Drinking Water State Revolving Fund 
  • $4.38 billion – Clean Water State Revolving Fund 
  • $1.75 billion – Rural Water and Waste Disposal Program 
  • $80 million – Safe Water for Small and Disadvantaged Communities 

Restore watersheds:  

Conserving and restoring watersheds in a changing climate is essential to slowing and reversing freshwater biodiversity loss and supporting local economies. Congress will need to prioritize funding watershed restoration to meet President Biden’s America the Beautiful goal of conserving 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030. 

  • $12 million – Wild and Scenic Rivers programs 
  • $100 million – Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program 
  • $15 million – Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance 

Modernize flood management:  

As floods become more frequent and severe, communities need cost-effective, reliable solutions to protect people and property and safeguard river health. 

  • $2 billion – Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program 
  • $12.5 million – Engineering With Nature 
  • $700 million – Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant Program 
  • $200 million – Flood Plain Management and Flood Mapping 

Remove dams:  

Removing dams can improve public safety, restore the natural functions of rivers, help endangered fish species, create jobs, protect important environmental and cultural resources, and increase climate resilience. 

  • $60 million – Community-based Restoration Program 
  • $200 million – High Hazard Potential Dam Safety Grant Program 
  • $92 million – National Dam Safety Program 
  • $30 million – National Fish Passage Program 

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) provided a major infusion of funding, energizing the public to let Congress know they are facing a changing climate, environmental injustice, biodiversity extinction, unaffordable or polluted water, and other issues that have long been overlooked and underfunded. 

In the American Rivers 2021 Blueprint for Action, we called on Congress to invest – over the next 10 years – $200 billion to improve water infrastructure, $200 billion to modernize flood management and $100 billion to restore watersheds in our communities. Over the next five years, the IIJA will provide over $55 billion for water infrastructure, $10 billion for flood management and $21 billion for environmental remediation, paling in comparison to the $500 billion needed. We can not let the IIJA be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence; rivers and communities need those levels of funding on an annual basis. 

The River Budget is a tool to voice the interests and needs of communities by recommending to Congress and the administration funding priorities and levels for programs that create clean rivers and water nationwide. Read “River Budget: National Priorities for Healthy Rivers and Clean Water (FY23)”