National Coalition Urges Additional Water, Conservation Resources in Reconciliation Package
IRVINE, CA - Water conservation has become an even more critical topic in the industry as many of the Western states in the U.S. continue to face exceptional drought conditions and wildfire threats. Recently, a national coalition representing agriculture, public water agencies, and the environmental and conservation communities issued a letter urging Congress to include resources for additional water, forestry, and ecosystem restoration programs as it considers further investments using the reconciliation process.
“Additional resources are necessary to improve the long-term management and resilience of water resources and the natural environment amongst changing climate and hydrological conditions,” the coalition stated in the letter.
On August 10, the Senate passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included more than $8 billion to address critical Western water supply needs through repairing aging dams and canals, building new surface and groundwater storage, funding water conservation and recycling projects, and enhancing watershed management ecosystems.
In response, the Environmental Defense Fund, Irrigation Association, The Freshwater Trust, and Trout Unlimited joined the Western Water Infrastructure Coalition to pen a letter to Congressional leadership addressing several gaps in funding in areas critical to overcoming the historic drought challenges in the West.
In the letter, the coalition identified additional funding needs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to accelerate restoration that improves ecosystem resiliency, reduce the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire, deploy water technology, boost conservation programs, and respond to the ongoing drought emergency, as noted in a press release. The coalition also urged that the funds be deployed with a focus on achieving durable and quantifiable watershed resilience outcomes, which can be achieved by working across federal funding silos and ensuring that projects are coordinated to achieve the greatest benefit for the least cost.
The funding requests outlined in the letter include:
- Double funding for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) program, which promotes a variety of practices that can aid in drought protection of agricultural operations
- $30 billion for USDA’s Forest Service to accelerate restoration actions that reduce hazardous fuels and improve overall forest and watershed health
- $170 million for DOI technology deployment programs that allow for better water management and decision making at the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Geological Survey
- $1.5 billion for emergency drought response activities, including relief for dry groundwater wells, compensated water use reductions, environmental response, and power costs
The coalition’s letter also noted that “timely federal investments in a mixed water management portfolio will spur economic recovery and prepare [the] country to meet the diverse water infrastructure needs of the next generation.”
Click here to read the full letter.
With over 80 percent of the Western U.S. encountering severe drought conditions, the topic of water conservation remains top of mind for our industry. Keep reading ANUK to see how fresh produce companies continue to tackle this challenge.