Passed by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 51-50, the Inflation Reduction Act includes substantial funding for drought relief. Western Democrats including Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Dianne Feinstein were instrumental in getting drought funding added to the legislation. The main focus of the drought relief support centers on the Colorado River.
“This language, which my staff negotiated with Senators Kelly, Sinema and others, will help ensure that critical water deliveries from the Colorado River continue as the state expands sustainable water practices like water recycling and conservation,” said Senator Feinstein. “The bill will also fund water infrastructure modernization projects as well as projects to reduce harmful effects of drought on rivers and inland water bodies like the Salton Sea. This is just one step to help fight this dangerous drought, but it’s an important one.”
There are three main components of the drought relief provisions in the legislation. Water users would be compensated for voluntary reductions that are made in water deliveries. Conservation projects to help bolster water levels in the Colorado River system would also receive funding support. Environmental restoration projects to mitigate damage from drought conditions will also be a central priority.
“We appreciate the determination of Senator Kyrsten Sinema and her colleagues to secure substantial new funding for drought-related priorities in the Colorado River Basin, which supports 5.7 million acres of irrigated agriculture including most of the nation’s winter vegetables as well as other high-value foods such as citrus and melons,” Western Growers President & CEO Dave Puglia said in a press release. “Not only does the Colorado River supply the water and power needs of nearly 40 million people across the West, it sustains the agricultural output of Yuma, Arizona and California’s Imperial Valley. Without fast and serious federal assistance, a significant portion of the nation’s food supply hangs in the balance.”
The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session to vote on the bill on August 12, where the legislation is expected to pass.