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Current Budget Justification

The Water Resources Research Act Program, authorized by section 104 of the Water Resources Research Act (WRRA) of 1984, is a Federal–State partnership that plans, facilitates, and coordinates water resources research, education, and information transfer through a matching grant program. The WRRA authorized the establishment of State Water Resources Research Institutes (National Institutes for Water Resources) at land grant universities across the Nation. There are currently 54 Institutes: one in each State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. The Institute in Guam serves the Federated States of Micronesia and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The WRRA Program provides an institutional mechanism for promoting State, regional, and national coordination of water resources research, promotes student education and training, and is a focal point for research coordination and information and technology transfer.

To promote the coordination of water resources research and student education and training, the WRRA program awards three types of grants: annual base grants, national competitive grants, and coordination grants.

  • Annual Base Grants: This program component supports research projects that address the entire spectrum of water issues and are used by water managers and the public to improve water quality, water treatment technologies, and water supply reliability at the State and regional level.  The annual base grants help each Institute or Center to plan and conduct applied and peer reviewed research on water resource issues. Institutes also use their base grants to help train new scientists, disseminate research results to water managers and the public, and to cooperate with other colleges and universities in their respective states and with other institutes and other organizations in their regions to promote regional coordination.
  • National Competitive Grants: This program component supports an annual call for proposals to focus on water problems and issues that are of a regional or interstate nature or relate to a specific program priority identified by the Secretary of the Interior and the Institutes.  The goals of the National Competitive Grants program are to promote collaboration between the USGS and university scientists in research on significant national and regional water resources issues; promote the dissemination and results of the research funded under this program; and to assist in the training of scientists in water resources.
  • Coordination Grants: Coordination grants (sometimes referred to as Supplemental Grants or Pass-Through Grants) allow other Federal agencies (including agencies within the Department of the Interior) to use and take advantage of the expertise and capabilities that are available through the network of Institutes established by the Water Resources Research Act.  The USGS may accept funds from other Federal departments, agencies (including agencies within the Department of the Interior), to establish a grant with an Institute in order to conduct hydrologic research with Federal programs concerned with water resources problems and issues.


Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Status

A current summary of the 2021 budget process for the WRRA is below.

  2019 2020 2021
Mission Area / Program / Activity
(dollars in thousands)
[Base Funding]
[Base Funding]
President's Budget
(PB) Request
Budget Changes from
2019 Enacted
Water Resources: Water Resources Research Act Program
– Annual Base Grants [5,500] [7,500] [0] -7,500
– National Competitive Grants [1,000] [1,500] [0] -1,500
  [0] [1,000] [0] -1,000
Total Water Resources Research Act Program 6,500 10,000 [0] -10,000
Total Water Resources (includes all Water Resources programs) 226,308 234,120 180,809 -53,311
USGS TOTAL (includes all USGS programs) 1,160,596 1,270,957 971,185 -299,772

Table showing the President’s Budget Request for the 2021 appropriations process. House and Senate Marks, as well as the Enacted, will be added when each are passed.


President’s Budget Request

The 2021 President’s Budget did not request funding for the WRRA. For more information on the Water Mission Area (WMA) budget restructure and 2020 request, please see the WMA Chapter of the 2021 Budget.

As Congress takes action on 2021 appropriations, this page will be updated.


Budget Process Overview

Each year, federal agencies formulate a budget for the following fiscal year based on guidance and input from the Executive Office of the President (which includes the Office of Management and Budget), and, for USGS, the Department of the Interior. Congressional budget justifications (for the USGS, this is known as the “Greenbook”) are submitted to Congress as the President’s Budget Request by law on the first Monday in February prior to the new fiscal year starting October 1. Following release of that Budget Request, agencies work to justify their budget and answer questions from Congress. Over the next 8 months, each chamber of Congress provides their proposed budgets, referred to as the House and Senate “Marks”. Based on these Marks, Congress works to negotiate a final bill that, once passed, goes to the President’s desk for signature. Once signed, the bill becomes law. The agencies are then required to produce an operating plan to justifies the funding appropriated by Congress.

During the budget process, the USGS interacts with the Appropriations committees in each chamber. Specifically, the USGS falls under the jurisdiction of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. For more information on these subcommittees, please visit the following websites:

In addition to the Appropriations committees, the USGS receives questions from various Congressional stakeholders. These stakeholders, referred to as authorizing committees, have specific oversight responsibilities that include authorizing agency activities and providing guidance regarding appropriate levels of funding levels to carry out the authorized activities. The USGS resides in the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. However, the Water Resources Mission Area reports to a separate subcommittee than the rest of the USGS. For more information on these committees, please visit the following websites:

A summary of the authorizations that are relevant to the WRRA can be found at the Authorizations page of this site.