H.R. 3723 would authorize the appropriation of $260 million for a grant program to construct desalination projects aimed at reducing reliance on imported water supplies in communities affected by drought. The bill would expand an existing program and require the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to establish a scoring system to prioritize feasible projects based on the energy efficiency features of a facility, whether water recycling and conservation are used in the community, and whether the facility is designed to mitigate harm to marine life. The BOR would report to the Congress on feasible projects and their scores. Projects subsequently authorized by the Congress would be eligible to compete for funding.
For this estimate, CBO assumes that the bill will be enacted in fiscal year 2020. The bill requires the authorized amounts to be appropriated over the 2021-2025 period but otherwise does not specify the year in which any appropriation should be provided. CBO has estimated the necessary amounts for each year using information from BOR. Assuming appropriation of those amounts, CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 3723 would cost $231 million over the 2020-2025 period and $29 million after 2025.
The costs of the legislation, detailed in Table 1, fall within budget function 300 (natural resources and environment).