June 14, 2022

Wyden Presses Bureau of Reclamation Official on Agency's Plans to Address Water Emergency in Oregon and Across West

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today asked the Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton how the agency plans to efficiently deliver new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to make sure the best available science is used to address water management challenges in Oregon and across the West -- especially with the potential of another devastating wildfire season.

"The summer begins next week and more than half of my state is already suffering extreme or severe drought. Seventeen Oregon counties have been declared to be in a state of emergency because of water shortages," said Wyden during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. "Drought conditions have been so bad in central Oregon that for 18 straight months, the Wickiup Reservoir – the primary source of irrigation water for Jefferson County – set record lows for month-end contents. And Commissioner Touton knows how drought has hurt the Klamath Basin where the lack of water is devastating farms and Tribal resources and causing residential wells to run dry. On top of this, the first responders and experts on the ground expect the drought conditions to fuel wildfire risks beyond even the historically bad conditions of the past couple years."

At the hearing, Wyden also raised the need for passage of his Watershed Results Act, which would improve the resilience and health of the nation’s watersheds by encouraging collaboration and using the best scientific data to identify the most effective acres where watershed restoration work would generate the greatest environmental results at the best value for taxpayers.

Dr. Maurice Hall, Vice President of Climate Resilient Water Systems at the Environmental Defense Fund, was a witness at today's hearing and called Wyden's science-based, collaborative approach as "the way we are going to shape the future of the West we want to see."

A video of Wyden's exchange with witnesses at the hearing is here.


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