The U.S. Department of Energy has approved more than $1 billion in new water infrastructure investments across the country, the latest in a series of announcements that have increased the country’s water supply, which has been strained in recent years due to climate change and drought.
The agency announced Wednesday that it approved $1.5 billion in projects that include new dams and reservoirs in the Central Valley, New York, and the San Joaquin Valley.
In the first half of the year, more than 3.3 billion gallons of water was pumped from the Colorado River to the San Francisco Bay, California, in the process, according to the Energy Department.
The latest project, the Sacramento River Valley Water Project, is slated to bring the total to nearly 3 billion gallons.
The project is also scheduled to add more than 5 million acres of land to California, including several large urban areas, to provide water to cities and farms.
“Our commitment to this region is enormous, but also reflects the continuing need for reliable and clean water to sustain our economy, our environment and to provide a stable source of water for consumers and businesses,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement.
The projects announced Wednesday also include new desalination plants in New York City and Boston, and water desalinated from the Great Lakes and Potomac rivers.
The Energy Department is also working to install more than 1 million solar photovoltaic panels in California, which will provide about 30 percent of the state’s power, according the agency.
The announcement comes amid a new drought in the Southwest, which is expected to last until late 2019.
It is the first time the federal government has issued an order to build or expand new water projects in the region.
The drought, which started in late February, has caused widespread damage to crops and livestock.
The National Weather Service said the drought was expected to extend through late 2020 and have the most severe effects on agriculture and the food industry.