May 02, 2024

Wyden, Hickenlooper, Lummis Introduce Bills to Extend Drought Relief, Water Monitoring Programs

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., and Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., introduced two bipartisan bills that would extend existing programs to continue important water management programs and address long-term drought in the West.

The Drought Preparedness Act and the Water Data Improvement Act would reauthorize current programs managed by the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Geological Survey to help secure water infrastructure, prepare drought contingency plans, and improve water monitoring.

“Time and time again, Oregon and the entire West have been hit hard by extreme drought,” Wyden said. “It’s not only critical that communities are better prepared to respond to droughts, but also that more is being done to prevent drought as best we can. These bills will make sure communities nationwide have water readily available to them so that their livelihoods are not diminished during and after a drought.”

The Drought Preparedness Act would:

  • Reauthorize the Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act through 2028
  • Continue authorities for the Interior Department to prepare drought contingency plans and provide technical assistance to State, local, and Tribal governments on their drought contingency plans
  • Maintain authorities for Interior Department loans to water users for drought mitigation projects
  • Support emergency response actions to minimize damages from drought

The Water Data Improvement Act would:

  • Support the National Groundwater Resources Monitoring Network, which promotes collaborative groundwater monitoring between federal, state, and local programs, by reauthorizing the program at $4 million annually
  • Reauthorize the National Streamflow Information Program at $10 million annually to help monitor water levels
  • Improve water estimation and monitoring technologies by reauthorizing the grant programs for agencies, academic institutions, and private entities to develop and implement new methodologies and technologies
  • Improve collaboration between the Interior Department and other federal and state agencies to streamline and centralize water data collection systems and water supply forecasting techniques

Text of the Drought Preparedness Act is HERE, and the Water Data Improvement Act is HERE.

Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Joe Neguse, D-Colo. The Drought Preparedness Act passed the House, and the Water Data Improvement Act has passed out of the House Committee on Natural Resources.