November 04, 2021

Neguse Water Bills Moving through House Committee

Washington D.C.— Today, two provisions led by Congressman Joe Neguse were considered in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Waters, Oceans and Wildlife. 

The Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins Recovery Act, introduced earlier this year by Congressman Neguse would protect 14 endangered fish species in the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basin and allow critical water infrastructure projects to continue. The bill is supported by the Colorado Water Congress, Colorado Springs Utilities, Aurora Water, City of Farmington, NM, City of Greeley, Dolores Water Conservancy District, San Juan Water Commission, Southwestern Water Conservation District, Utah Water Users Association, Grand Valley Water Users Association, Tri-County Water Conservancy District, Denver Water, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Central Utah Water Conservancy District, Tri-State, Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District, and others. Read letters of support here. 

Additionally, a Neguse-Bennet resolution was also considered recognizing the critical importance of access to reliable, clean drinking water for Native Americans and Alaska Natives and confirming the responsibility of the federal government to ensure such water access.

“In the West, unprecedented drought and climate-induced wildfires have drawn great urgency to the way we steward and protect our water resources,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “Our Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins Recovery Act will ensure that critical water infrastructure projects can continue while protecting endangered species in these River Basins. Additionally, we are working to secure access to clean drinking water for Native American and Alaska Native communities. I’m honored that both of these provisions to benefit Colorado communities and ensure access to water amidst unprecedented drought are moving through the Committee. We look forward to delivering on these provisions, to protect local water supplies, and preserve the sacred right of every community to have access to clean drinking water.”

“Colorado thanks Representative Neguse for championing this important bill and Congress’ long-standing support for the Colorado River Basin endangered fish recovery programs. These programs help protect our water resources and ensure that the people who use our waters will have roles in shaping the future of the Colorado River and its tributaries,” said Governor Jared Polis on the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins Recovery Act.

“Clean water is a fundamental human right, but the reality is that many Tribal communities and Alaska Native villages currently lack access to clean drinking water,” said Senator Bennet. “I’m glad the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife considered our resolution today calling for our nation to address this shameful disparity and ensure that Tribal communities, regardless of where they live, have access to safe, clean water.”

In 2019, Congressman Neguse enacted legislation into law to reauthorize the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, a similar program that protects wildlife in the Platte River Basin and coordinates with local water development.

Background: 

The Upper Colorado River Basin is home to 14 native fish species, including the endangered humpback chub, bonytail, Colorado pikeminnow, and razorback sucker. These endangered fish are found only in the Colorado River system. The Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program was first established in 1988 to help bring these four species of endangered fish back from the brink of extinction. The Recovery Program is a unique partnership of local, state, and federal agencies, water and power interests, and environmental groups working to recover endangered fish in the Upper Colorado River Basin while water development proceeds in accordance with federal and state laws and interstate compacts. 

The lack of access to clean drinking water is a significant barrier for many Native American communities. According to data from the Indian Health Service, nearly half of Native American households do not have access to reliable water sources and clean drinking water.  A report commissioned by the Colorado River Water and Tribes Initiative documents the different forms of lack of access to safe and reliable drinking water among tribes in the Colorado River Basin, together with some of the deficiencies in the federal programs designed to address this problem and recommendations for improvement.  Lack of access to drinking water has significant impacts on health, education, economic development, and other aspects of daily life.