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Aging Hoover Dam may get $45M for maintenance

A new bill could free up $45 million in federal funds to support maintenance of the almost century-old Hoover Dam as it ages.

In 2000, the Department of Energy’s Western Area Power Administration began collecting about $2 million a year from hydropower users and put that money into an account for dam employees’ retirement benefits.

That program has since been funded through other legislation, such as the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, meaning the account’s money doesn’t have a purpose.

The Help Hoover Dam Act, which has bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, wouldn’t use any new funds or affect any benefits. Rather, it would clear the Bureau of Reclamation to begin making the most of unused money to cover costs of keeping up the dam, which generates enough energy to serve about 1.3 million customers every year.

It will take tens of millions of dollars to repair and improve the dam over the next 10 years, officials estimate.

“We can’t let government bureaucracy stop us from making necessary investments in the Hoover Dam,” Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., the bill’s lead sponsor, said in a statement. “Nevadans depend on it for clean power, precious water resources, and countless recreational opportunities.”

Both Reclamation and the Department of Energy are supportive of the bill, according to a release from Lee’s office.

All of Nevada’s representatives in the House have co-sponsored it, and all senators from Nevada, California and Arizona are co-sponsoring the Senate bill.

Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto, D-Nev., said in a statement that freeing up the money is a necessary move.

“Cutting through red tape and freeing up stranded funds will allow the Bureau of Reclamation to revitalize and preserve the Hoover Dam while keeping prices low for Nevada families,” she said.

Contact Alan Halaly at ahalaly@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlanHalaly on X.

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