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  • Writer's picturePeter Yolles

Water and climate legislation wins big in Congress

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

What a week for federal legislation! First the Inflation Reduction Act appears headed for the president’s desk, providing over $350B for renewable energy and emissions reductions. What you may have missed this week is that the House also has passed 48 new bills packaged under the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act. Targets for these bills include $500 million for Lakes Powell and Mead on the Colorado River, predictably suffering under long-term drought. Camille Touton, the commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, suggested that the seven basin states and tribes need a new negotiated settlement to reduce demand by 2-4 million acre-feet. Federal funding for the Colorado River is helpful, but money can’t fill the reservoir without a negotiated agreement on cutbacks.

Two views of Lake Powell and Surface Area changes. Source Link.

“If we’re going to be able to respond to climate change and the impacts that are already happening, we really need crucial tools,” Rep. Melanie Ann Stansbury (D-N.M.), who introduced much of the water-related legislation included in the package, told The Climate 202. “We are not prepared for the change that is coming our way, and that’s why we have to put into place meaningful legislation, tools, resources and science to help our communities get ready for what’s about to head our way,” she added.

Stansbury introduced the following bills included in the package:

  • The Rio Grande Water Security Act, which would help develop a long-term, community-based resilience plan for the Rio Grande, which recently ran dry for the first time in 40 years, shrinking the amount of clean water available to residents and farmers.

  • The Water Data Act, which is meant to help standardize the way water is managed across the West, making it easier to share resources, plan ahead for dry, hot weather, and mitigate risks.

  • The WaterSMART Access for Tribes Act, which seeks to eliminate barriers for Native American tribes to receive funding for water infrastructure projects.

California drought highlighted by the departure of a high ranking water official. California should consider what it will take to implement cutbacks on river diversions under the current drought, said Max Gomberg in a resignation letter. A well-respected water policy expert, Max Gomberg, has voiced his opinion in words and in action by resigning his post in protest at the California Water Resources Control Board. He believes the state is avoiding its responsibilities by only focusing on voluntary agreements rather than mandatory cutbacks as implemented in the last drought. And yes, Watertech can play an important role as well by introducing Agtech solutions that produce greater yields while consuming less water, or more “crop-per-drop,” hopefully leaving more water in our rivers, lakes and reservoirs to protect nature and the ecosystems that support all life. We will continue to monitor the impact of this change.

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1 Comment

Aug 10, 2022

What is the long term data on supply of water in the Corado River wayhershed? What is the long term data on demand? The last data I can find from usgs,gov shows water supply varies in a band but demand constantly gorwas and 10 years ago outstripped supply, making the reservoir drawdowns inevtaie, regardless of drought. Is that consistent with your data?

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