Rep. Greg Stanton introduced H.R. 8435, the Colorado River Drought Response Act, this week to provide $500 million for the Department of the Interior to take immediate action to prevent Lake Mead and Lake Powell from declining to critically low levels.The Colorado River, which provides water to 40 million people throughout seven states, is experiencing its driest conditions in more than 1,200 years—leading to historically low water levels in both reservoirs.
In June, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton said a drastic additional conservation of 2 million to 4 million-acre-feet of water is necessary just to protect critical levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead next year. Stanton has urged the Bureau to ensure all basin states do their fair share to conserve water and safeguard the long-term health of the river. “The Colorado River system is dangerously over-allocated and, after decades of severe drought, it’s on the verge of collapse. Bold action to safeguard our water supply has never been more critical, and the federal government needs to act with the urgency that this crisis demands before it’s too late,” Stanton said. The bill also requires the Bureau of Reclamation to accelerate and complete program implementation for the large-scale water recycling and reuse program and the competitive grant program for multi-benefit projects to improve watershed health enacted under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law by August 31, 2022. Additionally, Stanton joined Reps. Susie Lee of Nevada, Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, and Grace Napolitano and Jared Huffman of California to introduce the Facilitating Large-Scale Water Recycling and Reuse Projects Act, which will provide an additional $700 million to the Competitive Grant Program for Large-Scale Water Recycling included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to get projects off the ground quickly.