A bill introduced this afternoon in the U.S. Senate would continue a successful federal partnership with states, Indian tribes and other water users that promotes water conservation and improves water use efficiency, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership announced today.
The SECURE Water Amendment Act of 2014 (S. 2019), introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz, is cosponsored by Sens. Martin Heinrich, Mazie Hirono, Mark Udall, Tom Udall and Ron Wyden.
“Sportsmen rely on healthy watersheds for access to quality hunting and fishing opportunities,” said TRCP Center for Water Resources Director Jimmy Hague. “This bill will improve aquatic habitat throughout the West and make our water resources more resilient to drought and climate change. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership commends Senator Schatz for introducing this much needed piece of legislation.
“The Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program is a highly successful partnership between the federal government and states, Indian tribes and other water users to plan for threats to our water supplies,” Hague continued. “Because of it, we already are saving an estimated 616,000 acre-feet of water per year – enough water for 2.5 million people annually.”
“This bill will help maintain federal programs that are vital to ranchers, farmers, and fishermen,” said Scott Yates, director of Trout Unlimited’s Western Water Project. “Further, funding multi-stakeholder efforts will be the key to future water management in the West, and this bill will both bring diverse interests to the table with good information and help identify ways to jointly move forward in the face of drought and other water supply challenges.”
The Senate legislation will do the following:
- Continue the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART grant program, which provides federal support – matched at better than 2 to 1 by non-federal grant partners – for water conservation and efficiency projects.
- Clarify that WaterSMART grants can be used to plan for and reduce the impacts of drought. With much of the western United States suffering through an historic drought, the federal government’s cooperation with states, Indian tribes and other water users to make more drought resilient communities is more important than ever.
- Continue a federal program to improve collection of data about water availability and use. Effective water management relies upon accurate data about existing water supplies and uses.
“Conservation of existing water resources is the easiest, cheapest and quickest solution to our water challenges,” stated Hague, “and Congress should act swiftly to ensure that Reclamation can continue supporting state and local efforts to make the most out of every drop we have.”
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Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations
and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions
of hunting and fishing.