America’s Water Infrastructure Act includes Walden provision to authorize drought relief measures for irrigators in the Klamath Basin

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House of Representatives today unanimously passed legislation that secures drought relief measures for Klamath Basin irrigators. Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) included a provision in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021) that authorizes $10 million annually for four years to the Bureau of Reclamation to implement needed drought relief measures for the agriculture community in the Klamath Basin.

Earlier this week, Walden announced that this provision was included in the Water Resources Development Act, which is part of the America’s Infrastructure Act legislative package. In a speech on the House floor today, Representative Walden further highlighted the importance of this legislation to Klamath Basin farmers.

“This legislation includes important language to assist irrigators in the Klamath Basin who are enduring another challenging water year and it helps ensure we are prepared if our farmers are hit again with severe drought conditions in the years ahead,” said Walden. “The bill provides the Bureau of Reclamation with the authority to use the funds we secured earlier this year to implement measures such as groundwater pumping and other priorities for our irrigators, and ensures they have that authority to survive difficult water years we may face over the next four years.”

In the government funding measure that was passed into law in March, Walden worked to secure more than $10 million in emergency aid and worked with the Office of Management and Budget to get it released to the Bureau of Reclamation, (BoR).

The provision Walden worked with his colleagues to include in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act will provide direction to BoR on how the agency is to spend the funds acquired earlier this year and any that are appropriated in succeeding years. This will give BoR the authority to spend $10 million each year over the next four years to implement measures such as: 

  • Groundwater pumping to increase the flexibility, reliability, and efficient use of water in the Klamath Basin;
  • Temporary and voluntary land idling on Bureau of Reclamation property to make additional water available; and
  • Facilitating the movement of non-Project water through Bureau of Reclamation facilities to assist irrigators.

The America’s Water Infrastructure Act also includes additional priorities for Representative Walden related to hydropower development and safe drinking water, including:

Promoting Hydropower

This package combines several bills from Walden’s Energy and Commerce Committee that passed the House including, H.R. 2880, the Promoting Closed-Loop Pumped Storage Hydropower Act; H.R. 2872, the Promoting Hydropower Development at Existing Nonpowered Dams Act; H.R. 2786, To Amend the Federal Power Act with Respect to the Criteria and Process to Qualify as a Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Facility; as well as key provisions from H.R. 3043, the Hydropower Policy Modernization Act. These bills:

  • Encourage the use of clean, baseload hydropower by streamlining the regulatory permitting process.
  • Get new hydropower projects to market faster, saving time and money.
  • Remove barriers to investments in hydropower, which create jobs and provide low-cost, emissions-free electricity to consumers. 

Modernizing Our Drinking Water Infrastructure

This package incorporates substantial portions of H.R. 3387, the Drinking Water System Improvement Act, which passed the Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously in July 2017. Key provisions include: 

  • Authorization of more than $4.4 billion over three years for the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund program.
  • Improving accountability by aiding states and utilities with compliance and asset management.
  • Protecting communities by updating antiterrorism and resilience measures at public water systems.
  • Enhancing transparency for consumers about the quality of their drinking water.
  • Authorization of $100 million over the next two fiscal years for areas affected by natural disasters that need help repairing their drinking water systems or hooking up to other ones to obtain potable drinking water. 

Click here to learn more about the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.


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