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Fix aging water infrastructure, Senate told

Issue Date: July 21, 2021
By Christine Souza

California Farm Bureau, as part of a national coalition representing thousands of western farmers, ranchers, water providers, businesses and communities, urged leaders of the U.S. Senate to take action to address the shortcomings of aging water infrastructure.

Citing an "acute and critical need" magnified by another all-too-familiar drought, the coalition sent a letter last week to Chairman Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Ranking Member John Barrasso, R-Wyo., of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. It called for increased federal investment in water infrastructure.

"California Farm Bureau joined with 200-plus organizations in a letter to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Joe Manchin and Ranking Member John Barrasso, stating federal investment in a diversified water management portfolio that serves a broad range of water uses must be included as essential infrastructure in the next legislative package," said Sara Arsenault, California Farm Bureau director of federal policy. "The coalition warned that changing hydrological conditions and an expanding population in the West raise serious concerns about the future viability of the nation's water infrastructure.

"To keep water flowing to farms, ranches, cities and the environment, the coalition emphasized that substantial federal investment is needed to bolster deteriorating storage and conveyance facilities and build new ones."

As part of a comprehensive water management portfolio, the coalition identified:

  • More than $13 billion in Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure needs over the next 10 years, including storage and conveyance, dam safety, rural water, water-smart technologies, and water recycling and reuse projects.
  • $34 billion for U.S. Department of Agriculture to undertake forest restoration, watershed protection and flood prevention projects.
  • $1.75 billion for Army Corps of Engineers water storage projects and environmental infrastructure.

The coalition concluded the letter with a call for Congress to streamline regulation and permitting processes, along with other reforms, to ensure the timely construction of federal water projects as part of President Biden's jobs and economic recovery plan.

The coalition includes more than 220 organizations from 15 states that collectively represent $120 billion in agricultural production—nearly one-third of all agricultural production in the country—and many of the local and regional public water agencies that supply water to more than 75 million urban, suburban and rural residents. California Farm Bureau helps lead the coalition and its strategic efforts as part of the steering committee.

(Christine Souza is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

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