Republicans Investigate Increased Water Storage Needs
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2023 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
Today, the Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries held a hearing on long-term drought and water storage issues in the West, and potential solutions to the ongoing issues. Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.) issued the following statement in response:
"70 million people across the Western United States are suffering from drought, 40 million of whom are dependent upon the Colorado River. California, one of the states most affected by drought, is now experiencing the greatest amount of precipitation seen in the last several hundred years. Unfortunately, a huge amount of this incredibly valuable water will not be used to replenish depleted aquifers, reservoirs, and forests. This failure is absolutely unacceptable. Cities, other states, farmers, ranchers, refuges, and rural homeowners, all of whom are heavily dependent on access to water, are being put in harm’s way at the expense of bad science and bad policy. Today’s hearing was one of many that will address the essential need for long term water storage solutions across the West."
Over the past three years, much of the western United States has experienced prolonged, persistent drought and below-average precipitation. Those years have been some of California's driest on record. These extreme drought conditions have significantly depleted reservoirs and water storage. Now, California is experiencing extremely high precipitation levels, yet does not have the necessary infrastructure in place to store the excess water. Much of it is washing out to sea as a result.
Multiple projects which could capture and store water during storm events have been held in limbo by the Biden administration. The lack of adequate storage facilities will increase the future likelihood of disastrous flooding and an undersupply of necessary water resources. The hearing also showcased the need for managing the watersheds in our national forests to increase water supplies and improve forest health. Additionally, today's hearing highlighted the need for increased water storage, federal environmental regulatory accountability and forest management to advance long-term solutions to the water issues facing the West.
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