River Budget: National Priorities for Healthy Rivers and Clean Water (FY25)

Life Depends on Rivers℠. Rivers across America provide our drinking water and sustain our growing communities. Streams, rivers, and creeks not only power our recreational economy, but also serve as critical habitats for fish and wildlife. Healthy rivers can provide cities and towns with natural barriers against the worst impacts of climate change.

Yet worsening floods and drought, infrastructure that is aging to the point of failure, and human-caused destruction of rivers are putting clean drinking water and communities’ safety at risk — and threatening thousands of wildlife species. Meanwhile, climate change, pollution, and environmental degradation are proportionately harming Communities of Color, Tribal Nations, and people in poverty.

To continue building a better world for our communities, we need to ensure federal funding is responsive to the challenges ahead. With the recent investments made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, the annual appropriations process can continue to support rural areas, Communities of Color, and Tribal Nations.

We ask Congress and the Biden administration to support a strong River Budget ahead of the President’s Budget and the Fiscal Year 2025 appropriations process.

Our federal agencies require the tools, resources, capacity, and technical assistance to maximize funding efficiencies and improve effectiveness. Today, we need prolonged and sustained investments to remove dangerous dams, restore floodplains, and protect vital habitat for fish and wildlife. The Fiscal Year 2025 River Budget outlines our commitment to advance federal priorities overseen by the Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Environmental Protection Agency. The federal spending priorities also take proactive measures to
curb water pollution and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Key priorities in the Fiscal Year 2025 River Budget:

Promote climate-smart agriculture: Climate change poses an existential threat to agricultural producers, landowners, and farmers, whose livelihoods rely on healthy rivers. In partnership with farmers and ranchers, we can build up resilience and regenerate ecosystems to improve irrigation, bolster agriculture, and improve croplands’ ability to capture and store carbon.

Enhance water infrastructure: More than two-thirds of our drinking water supply comes from rivers. America’s network of water systems provides communities with safe, reliable, and affordable clean water. Every dollar invested in water infrastructure generates $2.20 in economic activity. Advancements in nature-based solutions and water equity can begin to tackle aging or deteriorating pipelines in communities with the greatest needs.

Protect watersheds: Every person in our country lives within a watershed comprising an intricate system of rivers, lakes, and smaller streams. Healthy watersheds clean our drinking water supplies, support recreation like fishing and hunting, and stabilize soils. In 2022, outdoor recreation generated $1.1 trillion in economic output and 5 million jobs, accounting for 2.2 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.

Improve flood management: Today, nearly 41 million people live in flood-prone areas. Inland and coastal communities, particularly in disadvantaged and rural areas, need relief as environmental pressures and natural disasters, including hurricanes and floods, threaten people and property. Investments in flood management solutions can safeguard rivers and protect vulnerable homeowners and businesses.

Remove and rehabilitate dams: Dams disrupt the natural ecosystem by impacting water quality, cutting off migration routes, isolating habitats, and destroying fish spawning grounds. Some dams pose significant and serious public safety risks to people and surrounding communities. Prioritizing funding to remove, rehabilitate, and/or retrofit dams is the best way to bring life back to damaged rivers and protect communities. The annual appropriations process charges Congress to work with the White House to focus federal investments on priorities that make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. Now more than ever, we need to continue to sustain and support key federal programs that improve rivers across America, deliver economic benefits, and improve agency programs that are responsible for and responsive to our communities’ needs.

We urge Congress and the Biden administration to support a strong River Budget as we prepare for the release of the President’s Budget and the Fiscal Year 2025 appropriations process.

For questions, contact:
Jaime D. Sigaran, Associate Director, Policy, and Government Relations
Ted Illston, Vice President, Policy and Government Relations