(Washington, D.C.) - Family Farm Alliance General Counsel Norm Semanko tomorrow will address the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Water Oceans and Wildlife (WOW), where he will testify on the state of water infrastructure and innovation in the Western U.S. Mr. Semanko will testify in his capacity as the leader of the Water Law Practice Group for the Boise, Idaho law office of Parsons Behle & Latimer, where he serves as general counsel for several water user organizations, including the Alliance.
WOW Chairman Jared Huffman (D-CALIFORNIA) has said his goal as the new chair of the subcommittee was to "focus on the factual and scientific baseline for natural resources issues" in a series of hearings he is calling "WOW 101."
In addition to Mr. Semanko, witnesses include Mr. Dave Eggerton (Executive Director, Association of California Water Agencies), Mr. Vicente Sarmiento (President, Orange County Water District Board of Directors), and Ms. Ellen Hanak (Water Policy Center Director, Public Policy Institute of California).
Mr. Semanko’s written testimony – based on his experience serving Western water organizations for a quarter century - underscores the critical importance of having sufficient infrastructure in place to optimize Western water supplies.
“When we do have good water years, there is insufficient storage available to take advantage of mother nature’s generosity in the dry years that inevitably follow,” he said.
The need is obvious, and this belief is shared by many in the West. Just last week, the Family Farm Alliance – working with the California Farm Bureau Federation and Western Growers Association – transmitted a letter signed by over 100 national and Western agriculture and water organizations, calling upon Members of Congress to develop an infrastructure package that addresses water infrastructure needs for storage and conveyance.
“While water conservation, water efficiency, and water transfers can be important tools for addressing certain water supply challenges, these tools are limited and do not yield the quantities of water that storage facilities do,” said Mr. Semanko. “Adequate water supplies for the future require supply enhancement measures – new and expanded water storage projects - that provide long-term solutions across the West.”
The Family Farm Alliance in 2014 released a report that provides detailed answers to 20 frequently asked questions about new water storage projects.
“The need has only increased,” since then, says Mr. Semanko. His written testimony includes several examples of potential new water storage, conveyance and recharge projects that have been proposed in California, Idaho and Washington.
“Now it is this generation’s responsibility to provide the water infrastructure that future generations will rely upon,” said Mr. Semanko. “There is no doubt we can do it. The question is whether we will.”