Later today, the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power will convene to conduct an oversight hearing titled “Status and Management of Drought in the Western United States.” More information including a witness list can be found here.
Comprehensive 27-page testimony submitted by the Alliance aims to share with the committee an overview of this year’s drought and what can be done to mitigate it and future droughts. The full testimony can be accessed on our website at this link. A summary of the testimony is below:
1. Water infrastructure is needed to protect future water supply reliability. A national coalition of over 220 organizations this year urged Congress to include Western water infrastructure provisions in any potential infrastructure or economic recovery package.
2. Water management in the West is becoming too inflexible. Water users served by Western federal water projects – including but not limited to – California’s Central Valley Project, the Klamath Project, and the Columbia River Basin – are facing “regulatory droughts” as well. We need a new way of looking at how we manage environmental demands for our limited water resources. We need a broader view of how water is used, one that considers state water laws, population growth, food production and habitat needs.
3. Fierce Western wildfire disasters are becoming an annual occurrence. This underscores the importance of improving on-the-ground management and restoration actions that can lead to improved forest health, which benefits every Western watershed’s water supply capability.
4. Now is the time for collaboration, not confrontation. Now more than ever, ag producers, tribes and conservation groups need to come together to provide locally driven solutions. If we don’t, the public policies and resource management strategies that we need to maintain a viable and sustainable rural West will be impossible to achieve.
1. Invest in Western water infrastructure. New water storage and improved conveyance facilities, groundwater recharge, water conservation, water management improvements, water reuse and desalination can all help alleviate the stress on our existing water supplies, especially for agriculture in the growing West;
2. Invest in technology. We must manage our water supplies better – more efficiently and effectively use technology to improve the modeling and predicting weather patterns, snowpack, and runoff forecasting, as well as using technology to manage our water storage and distribution to improve efficiencies in utilizing our precious water resources; and,
3. Improve regulatory processes at the federal level to expedite permitting and get projects to construction within a reasonable period of time at a reasonable cost, as well as create collaborative partnerships between federal, state and local entities interested in finding solutions to our water-climate problems through adaptive strategies that can work on the ground.
1. Maintaining food independence for this Nation is more than just providing a healthy, abundant, and transparent food supply – it is also a matter of national security;
2. Agriculture is the only U.S. sector that has posted a trade surplus for well over 50 years; and,
3. As diets evolve and the global population continues to expand, our position as the world’s largest food exporter will play an increasingly significant role in the global economy.