Senators negotiating a bipartisan $579 billion infrastructure package will try to finish negotiations early this week. Outstanding issues include funding for highways and bridges, water, broadband, transit, the creation of an infrastructure bank and how much unspent COVID-19 relief funds can be used to pay for infrastructure, among other controversial items.
If reached, a bipartisan agreement would clear the way for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to call up another test vote after one failed last week that would have brought the bill to the floor for limited debate. The bipartisan deal is said to include, among other provisions, the energy-natural resource-water infrastructure package that passed the Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee earlier this month.
The Family Farm Alliance is helping to lead a Western water coalition that collectively represents thousands of Western farmers, ranchers, water providers, businesses and communities who help provide $120 billion of agricultural production on millions of acres of productive land. The coalition also represents many of the local and regional public water agencies that supply water to over 75 million Western urban, suburban and rural residents.
The Alliance and this coalition are urging the Senate to pass legislation that includes the Western water and forestry infrastructure provisions found in the Energy Infrastructure Act recently reported out of the ENR Committee. These provisions align with the over $13 billion needed to meet existing demand for a suite of Bureau of Reclamation programs that the coalition outlined in its June letter.
Click here to read a July 26 guest opinion – “We’re running out of water. It’s time to overhaul Colorado’s storage system” – supporting this position. This article was authored by Alliance President Pat O’Toole and National Water Resources Association President Christine Arbogast.
As historic drought conditions impact farms and communities throughout the West, we are again reminded that water infrastructure investments are essential to prepare for changing Western hydrological conditions, expanding populations, pressing environmental needs, and other challenges. Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen’s recent comments at a Western drought forum hosted by the Biden Administration last week were noted in this story published by Fox News on July 25.
Without immediate action to ensure adequate and well-functioning infrastructure, future droughts will result in increasingly devastating impacts. The Alliance urges its supporters to contact their Senators to support legislation that contains the Western water provisions of the Senate Energy Infrastructure Act.