Citing an “acute and critical need” magnified by another all-too-familiar drought, a national coalition representing thousands of Western farmers, ranchers, water providers, businesses and communities urged Senate leaders yesterday to take action to address the shortcomings of aging water infrastructure.
In a letter to Chairman Joe Manchin and Ranking Member John Barrasso of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the coalition said federal investment in a diversified water management portfolio that serves a broad range of water uses must be included as essential infrastructure in the next legislative package.
The coalition includes more than 220 organizations from 15 states that collectively represent $120 billion in agricultural production—nearly one-third of all agricultural production in the country—and many of the local and regional public water agencies that supply water to more than 75 million urban, suburban and rural residents.
The coalition warned that changing hydrological conditions and an expanding population in the West raise serious concerns about the future viability of the nation’s water infrastructure. To keep water flowing to farms, ranches, cities and the environment, the coalition said substantial federal investment is needed to bolster deteriorating storage and conveyance facilities and build new ones.
“This funding will assist in addressing critical safety needs, develop new infrastructure, invest in smart water technology and conservation, and improve forest and water ecosystems. Additionally, it will spur economic recovery and prepare us to meet the water needs of the next generation in the face of a changing climate,” the coalition letter said.
As part of a comprehensive water management portfolio, the coalition identified 1) more than $13 billion in Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure needs over the next 10 years, including storage and conveyance, dam safety, rural water, water-smart technologies, and water recycling and reuse projects; 2) $34 billion for USDA to undertake forest restoration, watershed protection and flood prevention projects; and 3) $1.75 billion for Army Corps of Engineers water storage projects and environmental infrastructure.
The coalition concluded the letter with a call for Congress to streamline regulation and permitting processes, along with other reforms, to ensure the timely construction of federal water projects as part of President Biden’s jobs and economic recovery plan.
Click here for the letter to Chairman Joe Manchin and Ranking Member John Barrasso.
Click here for the list of 2022-2032 Western water infrastructure needs.
Click here for a list of signatories to the letter.
About Association of California Water Agencies:
The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) is a statewide association of public agencies whose more than 450 members are responsible for about 90% of the water delivered in California. For more than a century, ACWA’s mission has been clear: to help members promote the development, management and use of good quality water at the lowest practical cost and in an environmentally responsible manner.
About California Farm Bureau:
The California Farm Bureau works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 32,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.
About Family Farm Alliance:
The Family Farm Alliance is a powerful advocate for family farmers, ranchers, irrigation districts, and allied industries in seventeen Western states. The Alliance is focused on one mission – To ensure the availability of reliable, affordable irrigation water supplies to Western farmers and ranchers.
About National Water Resources Association:
National Water Resources Association advocates federal policies, legislation, and regulations promoting protection, management, development, and beneficial use of water resources. The association is dedicated to achieving sustainable water supply for all beneficial uses in an economical and environmentally responsible manner.
About Western Growers:
Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico. Our members and their workers provide over half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including half of America’s fresh organic produce.