July 21, 2022

Congressman Neguse Secures $3 Million in Funding for Water Conservation Programs

Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, Congressman Joe Neguse, member of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, secured two measures to increase funding for critical water conservation programs as part of H.R. 8294, the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY 23) Appropriations Minibus, which passed the House yesterday evening.  

“With drought conditions in Western states worsening, it is more important than ever that Congress invests in programs to conserve resources still available, ensuring as much sustainability for future generations as possible,” said Congressman Neguse. “Both the Conservation Operations account and the WaterSMART programs provide support for communities looking to expand conservation amidst ongoing drought conditions. Drier weather and consistent heat waves put increased pressure on our environment and I am committed to doing everything I can to mitigate the consequences of the climate crisis.” 

Specifically, the bill includes:  

  • $1 million for the NRCS Conservation Operations account to provide additional funding for soil, water, and conservation programs;  
  • And $2 million for the Bureau of Reclamation Water and Related Resources account, with the increased allocation intended for the WaterSMART program to support communities experiencing ongoing drought conditions. 

“Hunters, anglers, and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts would benefit from these important investments, and we thank Congressman Neguse for his leadership on behalf of conservation,” says Alex Funk, the Denver-based director of water resources and senior counsel to the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Increasing funding for WaterSMART grants will create conservation jobs and ensure that Westerners can enjoy our kayaks and driftboats on adequate river flows. Meanwhile, investing in NRCS conservation operations will help farmers and ranchers who want to make conservation a part of their business portfolio, benefiting wildlife and water quality along the way.” 

As a member of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and the House Natural Resources Committee, Congressman Neguse has become a strong leader on climate action and an advocate for conservation efforts throughout his time in Congress. Last August, Neguse introduced the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins Recovery Act, to allow critical water infrastructure in the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basin projects to continue. He also sponsors the Tribal Access to Clean Water Act – legislation to expand water access for tribal communities in the Colorado River basin.  

Background 

The Colorado River is a critical resource in the West. The basin provides seven states —Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, two Mexican states, and many Native American tribes and communities— with water supply, hydropower, recreation, fish and wildlife habitats. Current arid conditions in the West are causing the worst drought in 1,200 years, with sources reporting that the drought in the western U.S. could last until 2030. Earlier this year the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources held a hearing to the extreme drought in this region, coming to the conclusion that the region will need to conserve between 2-to-4-million-acre feet in 2023 to protect the the Colorado River Basing, and the Lake Mead and Lake Powell reservoirs. Read a full report on the findings here. 

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