A broad coalition of water and agriculture organizations is calling for improvements to water infrastructure in the West. In a letter addressed to the leadership of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the coalition highlights the need for federal action. The letter was signed by more than 220 organizations from 15 states, representing approximately one-third of U.S. ag production. The group details how federal investment can help relieve some of the ongoing water challenges facing agriculture and urban areas alike.
“We need your help to ensure that federal investment and timely improvements are made to our water management portfolio,” the coalition states in the letter. “Based on a survey of our members and review of publicly available federal agency and related data, we have identified a ten-year water infrastructure and related needs investment of approximately $49 billion dollars.”
The coalition pointed out the need for more than $13 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation to address WaterSMART investments, ecosystem restoration, storage and conveyance, rural water, dam safety, and water recycling and reuse. An additional $1.75 billion is called upon for the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct small water storage projects and develop environmental infrastructure. The group is also recommending $34 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Funding would be used for watershed protection and flood prevention, along with forest treatments and restoration.
“Hydrological conditions in the West are continuing to change and populations are continuing to expand, raising serious questions about the viability of our nation’s water infrastructure. The impact from our failure to address aging water infrastructure, as well as investing in new infrastructure, has become increasingly acute,” the letter states. “We believe a visionary federal infrastructure package should seek to bolster our aging water infrastructure and keep water flowing to our nation’s farms and ranches, while at the same time improving supply reliability for cities and the environment.”
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