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tv   Experts Testify on Response to Colorado River Drought Conditions  CSPAN  October 20, 2021 7:45am-10:03am EDT

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saturday on c-span2. >> next, state and local officials testify in a house natural resources water subcommittee hearing on colorado river drought conditions. it's two and a half hours. >> -- the meeting today to examine colorado river drought conditions -- >> this meeting is being recorded. >> response measures for the first two meetings on this important subject. under committeeng rule 4f, any opening statements at hearing will be limited to the chairman and ranking minority member. this will allow us to hear from our witnesses sooner and help keep members on their schedule. therefore, i ask unanimous consent that all other members' opening statements be made part of the record if they're submitted by 5 p.m. today or the close of the hearing, whichever comes first. and hearing no objection, that is so ordered. i also ask unanimous consent
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that representative teresa fernandez, representative siewz si lee and representative dena titus join the hearing to ask questions of the witnesses. again hearing no objection, that is so ordered. without objection, the chair may also declare a recess subject to the call of the chair as described in the notice, statements, documents or motions must bede submitted to the electronic repository at additionally, please note members are are responsible for their own microphones, so please do mute when you're not speak, and members will be muted by is staff only to avoid inadvertent background noise. final he, members or witnesses who are experiencing technical problems should inform staff immediately, and i will now recognize myself for a brief opening statement. or joining us
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for the first of two meetings we are having on colorado river drought conditions in response measures by the colorado river is often called the hardest working river in the west. that is because it does so much for so many. the fact we are meeting to hear testimony from more than 15 witnesses covering two separate days really speaks to this very fact for this colorado river supplies to communities across seven western states serves morning 40 million people from colorado to california. and along the way this river and its tributaries flow through six national parks and monuments. also supports a multitude of fish and wildlife nearly 6 million acres of irrigated agriculture. $1.4trillion in economic activity every single gear. unfortunately, unprecedented drought conditions are creating enormous challenges for this important river and those who depend on it.
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in august made the first ever shortage declaration and the lower colorado river basin. then of course due to severe drought and low reservoir conditions, which had triggered reduced water releases from lake mead. these are actions that were recently taken in the upper basin as well to slow declining water levels at lake powell. water level lake mead and lake powell are the two largest reservoirs have declined to lows that have not been seen since those reservoirs are first filled. after drought with no end in sight it clear to most of this at least the climate change is fundamentally altering the colorado river its decrease the amount available to the ski river which was already over allocated.
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climate scientists are telling us to expect hotter, drier conditions even less water being available in the upcoming years. in fact some scientists describe what we are now seeing in the southwest as a long-term shift in climate called a ratification that is a multi- decade mega drought. this is deeply concerning for tens of millions of people who depend on the colorado river and vertically concerning for communities that already face water insecurity challenges which have long affected tribal communities more than any other across the colorado river basin. i should note there are 38 tribal nations across the colorado river basin under the winters doctrine which was first recognized by the supreme court in 1908 these tribes have significant legal rights to enough water from the colorado river to secure and maintain viable homeland. and yet tribes have been historically excluded from colorado river management and
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decision making. it is essential from both the practical and moral perspective that moving forward tribes play a significant role in the management and decision-making process on the colorado river but i look forward to more discussion on that need today. i want to also note that while we face significant challenges we have some effective tools in place to help build the worst effects of this drought. this includes the measures included in the colorado river drought contingency plan which was authorized through legislation led by our chairman in the last congress. but still more action is needed. we look forward to hearing from federal, state, tribal government witnesses today i want more can be done to respond to these unprecedented climate challenges we are seeing across the colorado river basin. were also discussed some of the initiatives being led by members of this committee which include investment in near term drought response, investment or water rights
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settlement, solvency improvement projects and investment and drought proof water recycling projects that are being led by water managers across the colorado river basin. i look forward to hearing more today and next week about the need for future colorado river management plans to effectively incorporate climate science. we get a lot of ground to cover. so with that i would like to now yield and recognized ranking member for his opening remarks. >> thank you mr. chair. this is a welcome committee hearing on an issue that is of incredible importance not only to the seven states involved with colorado but all of the western united states. and of course as you mention this is the first of a two-part hearing on the consequences of this two decade long drought. i'm very happy we are spending that kind of time on this issue. it is certainly that important.
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of course as we know and as i mentioned this drought is not affecting just colorado. it's affecting all of oregon, california, washington and western united states. and since our last meeting on drought which was about five months ago, about 5.8 million acres have burned up here in oregon and california. project water users in oregon climate regions in large portions of california project have been given zero allocations of water. of course they are not the only ones. this absence of water of devastated communities throughout the western united states. thousands of people are desperately worried right now that yet another year of drought will be the nail in the coffin for many, many farming, ranching and actually committees across the west. meanwhile the time of massive supply chain problems that our entire economy the last thing we need to rely on foreign countries for food because of poor water shortages.
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i think mr. chair our discussion is really about choices between a lot of different uses of water. i'm going to be very interested and listening to folks talk about how the world we are going to make those choices. so a little bit about the history of colorado i know folks here today to know far more about it than i. but if there is ever an illustration i would like to stand up microcosm bases its not really true because colorado so big. the situation colorado is facing is so reflective of what we are going to be seeing all over the west. whatever we come up with today is going to be a template of some sort for the type of issues we are facing here in oregon, california, washington, nevada and so forth. the incredible value of the colorado system and the folks that put it together all those years ago are to be commended.
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there are many who find fault with how colorado was developed. a reference of course the book science be damned and interesting book. one i think quarterbacks a lot of things but on the other hand make some good points about optimism when it comes to building storage. on the other hand without storage can we imagine what would be happening now in california, phoenix and other places and benefited by these systems? one of the things of course i am a water warrior i've spent literally hundreds of thousands of hours in all types of water negotiation. water negotiations, never ending negotiations over impossible circumstances of allocating water and being involved in the treaty agreement and on, and on, and on.
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today's hearing is so important and so welcome in many ways. such a period of fear we may not have more water to deal with will probably have less. i don't expect breakthroughs today expect a continuation to address the allocation of water between everyone who needs it. but that i want to thank all the folks that are going to testify today in advance of their testimony. i look forward to a productive conversation, thank you mr. chair i yield back too. >> thank you ranking member for they understand the chair of the full national resources committee has been a great leader on these issues is with us to provide an opening statement. chairman to please you are recognized for five minutes
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per. >> just quick comment to thank you for the hearing. vital discussion newark committee is not overlooking and we all appreciate that. we appreciate that very much. i want to disassociate myself with her opening comments mr. chairman. i think we need a comprehensive initiative that's were going to deal with the colorado river until the maker drought. your point is very important. i mentioned the water shed the colorado river so vital particularly around the grand canyon. i appreciate this we passed reconciliation mr. chairman,
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dealt with additional significant resources dealt with significant resources to have settlements with indian nations regarding water and to be able to have tribal nations and be able to create viable communities as well. so that is where we are at and i appreciate it and i yield back. >> thank you chair. we will now hear testimony starting with today's first panel featuring federal and tribal government witnesses. before introducing our witnesses today i will remind non- administration witnesses they are encouraged to participate in the witness diversity survey created by a congressional office of diversity and inclusion. witnesses may refer to their hearing invitation materials
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for further information on that. under committee rules please limit your statements to five minutes or entire statement will appear in the hearing record however and when you begin speaking the timer will start counting down. it will turn orange when you have one minute left. i do recommend members and witnesses who are joining remotely use the grid view in web ex here so you can lock the timer on your screen. after your testimony is complete please do remember to meet yourself to avoid inadvertent background noise. i will allow all of our witnesses to testify before we begin questioning. so first we will hear testimony assistant secretary for water and science department of interior. the chair now recognizes to testify for five minutes.
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>> do we have assistant secretary? let me just ask our staff if we were having some kind of technical difficulty. a second assistant secretary believe you are a muted you will not be the first offender in that regard we have all done it but if you could unmute yourself we'd love to hear from you. thanks for your patience folks but we don't have audio for the assistant secretary do we
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have her now? [inaudible] mr. chairman, can you hear me? >> hi thank you. >> or rate you are recognized for five minutes take it away. >> thank you for your patience. good afternoon assistant secretary for water and science in the department of interior. i'm honored to be part of the panel said of some of our tribal partners the ongoing drought conditions in the colorado river. as you noticed the governor's representative from all seven nationstates will be here today as well. the colorado river binds us together. we have a proven track record of being able to find ways
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towards the conditions we are facing will be essential for us to continue to work together for to address the ongoing challenges. climate change is real. we are seeing the effects of climate change in the colorado river basin every day. includes the extended drought, the extreme temperature and in some places flooding and landslides that are affecting our communities and environment. the department of the interior is committed to addressing the challenges of climate change in the colorado river basin by utilizing innovative strategies in working cooperatively with diverse communities that rely on the river. we are working in this area with her sister agencies with tribes and local entities to
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to respond to the drought throughout the west and in the basin. in january or since january we have been providing funding to over 220 different projects around the west. we were able $100 million to be able to have responses to improve area programs. they include infrastructure and continued drought contingency planning efforts. we also received additional funding through the relief bill. they are working to be able to get that funding out to the local and tribal communities as soon as possible. we appreciate congresses continued support for this important issue. october 1 marked the first year the beginning of the new water year across the west we are grateful for reports of initial snow and some of the states and some of the areas.
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but we know are going to be starting out with a deficit. we are starting out with the water issues in many of the basins and situations that are significantly below-average. in the colorado river basin lake powell and lake mead are currently at historically low levels. as noted on august 16 we announce the operating conditions for next year end we announced the first tier shortage in the lower basin brew work collaboratively to plan ahead for these conditions. but we know we need to do more. we'll work to use the best science and technical expertise and work collaboratively to help inform our decisions and work with our partners on our collective decision-making in the basin.
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made support, additional investments and include meant to water infrastructure that include investments in new technology and always emphasizing the need for continued collaboration on how we can best the needs of the community and allow them to utilize the federal resources that we have available. the testimony will here today will highlight the challenges that we face in many of our areas around the colorado river basin. we know to address the challenges will urgently need to fill the tools and to expand upon the work we have done. that work helped us conserve water, protect the environment, preserve our hydropower resources and operate our infrastructure. the progress we have made through the strong partnership we have.
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with the tribe, with the water eaters and community throughout. thank you all for recognizing the importance of this issue and for holding this hearing today. be happy to follow up and answer any questions as a follow-up. thank you very much. >> thank you assistant secretary. i will now call upon congresswoman to introduce her next witness. >> thank you so much chair hoffman for giving me this opportunity to participate in's important hearing and introduce the next. i am really excited that two constituents for my beautifully diverse district in new mexico are testifying today, thank you very much for your testimony. i have known darrell going back decades. when i served as general counsel for the apache nation
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at present is a watered minister for the nation and among many roles he's also the cofacilitator for the water in tribes initiative in the colorado river basin. he's also chairman of water is life partnership. he is truly a leader thank you so much for being here today. we look forward to your testimony. >> thank you your recognize for five minutes. >> thank you chairman hoffman ranking members and other mems a subcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to testify about the drought situation in the western united states. i could not go further without acknowledging of course my representative with decades long friend, and of course my friend and also a fellow mexican friend assistant secretary. thank you so much for the
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opportunity today. it's always nice to hear you. thank you for that acknowledgment i really appreciate it. thank you chairman for the opening statements as well. i'm here presenting this to and the lovely durango, colorado. you may or may not know they have an enrollment of over 30% of native american students. a pretty special place to be at to be able to provide this to you. i'm going to paraphrase my testimony i know it takes seven minutes to read the whole thing. it is been mentioned before i am enrolled with the apache nation and also of pueblo to separate mite reservations north-central new mexico extends from new mexico colorado border at 70 miles south our tribe a significant
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water rights in the colorado river basin as i mentioned i have the honor of being my water administrator and thanks mite president in my legislative council for continuing to trust and empower me too be able to speak on behalf of the nation. this is something of absolute importance to my tribe which is our water right. in the spiritual value of our water right. and again this is the backdrop of understanding this conversation is absolutely vital and important considering where we are at the moment in time. the situation with climate but the geopolitical conversations going on. this is not only about the importance of the tribe but as we mentioned before is the entire basin and this country as a whole. what to talk a little bit about the past, present, future role in the colorado
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river basin as we understand for the key message is that the tribes along the federal and state government need to be at the decision-making table. tribes testing the water rights at least 25% of the time and have historically been excluded from decision-making or consulted only after decisions have been made. it's my sincere hope attention and action of this can occur present a new chapter in the management of the colorado river paid a chapter which this respect and responsibility i think it's really important to understand continues to do so today despite mother's natures challenges we have experienced thousands of years of sustainable and adaptive
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living. we understand the importance of honoring the very things that keep us alive that fetus and quench our thirst. going to provide a little bit of context we are at a pivotal moment in time with the anniversary of the river compact the foundational law of the river. it's important to understand the context of where my tribe was at that time. from 1887 it was established we have survived on government rations on our traditional homeland. historically nomadic the government tried to make us farmers and ranchers to support that activity but we do not establish a governance structure on my reservation until the indian reorganization act of 1934. could not vote until 1948 and
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did not have it until the 1960s was important to note my nation settled its water it's nearly 100 years after the colorado river compact in 1992 during the earlier of the tribal settlement. it's been mentioned before there's a lot of conversation about how do we be inclusive of tribes how to make a part of the process? the current do a lot for happen testimony i definitely have a way of creating something we don't have to re-create the wheel in terms of a model was created in the columbia river basin looks a lot similar to the components of what could be built in the future. given the amount of tribal water rights the tribes have in the commitment the number of thousands of years we've lived here we current structure does not account for that it's absolutely something
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not those tribal voices are included in the conversation there's other voices that have not been traditionally heard integrated into that. we build a future that together to be really, really unique and transforming the tribal sovereign relationships. i really appreciate the time and please ask you to take a look at my testimony because i go into the specifics not only about that what the division is but my nation has how we can participate. also to know the work we've done in the basin to really build on that collaborative effort. >> i appreciate that thank you so much for sharing that. when finally you will hear from chairwoman emily a florescent of the colorado river indian tribes next to her your recognize for five minutes.
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>> good afternoon chairman hoffman and ranking member. my name is a million floors on the chairwoman of the colorado river indian tribe pretty appreciate the invitation to testify today on behalf of my people about the drought and its impact on the colorado river. that is the namesake of our sovereign government. also want to think chairman for his work to get our lands returned in his support for not only all native people and tribal government. the colorado river indian reservation separated by more than 70 miles of the colorado river running through her land located in both california and arizona. we have the right to divert 719,000 per feet and currently using over 300,000 per feet. the same amount used by the state of nevada. since time and memorial at the river has sustained us. i'm here today to tell you that we are committed to
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helping to support the river that has provided for us and we have water to offer for this effort. the colorado river is suffering not only from drought but climate change is forcing all of us to change our relationship with its water. we must use its water more efficiently and ensure that each drops provides maximum benefit so others are not cut off entirely. this will require new and improved water delivery infrastructure. especially on tribal reservation including ours. we have received funding from the water smart program and usda program to make improvements to the federal irrigation project and our farmland. the need greatly exceeds the capacity of these programs and our ability to provide the required 50% matching funds. by joining with the state, local and private sector we
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have created partnerships we have started to make up for the lack of a federal investment in the irrigation project. the committee's inclusion of $150 million and that reconciliation proposal to assist tribal government addressing the drought will greatly help us and other tribes. we hold the senior water right for the lower basin and are the largest single user of the water from the colorado river in arizona. our water right was quantified by the u.s. supreme court in the arizona versus california decision with the priority date of 1865. and it's not likely to be shortened. despite the challenges were providing help to the rest of the lower basin through the drought contingency plan which was authorized by legislation approved by this committee.
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the colorado river indian tribes are creating more than 150,000 acre-feet of water for lake emilio as system conservation. this water and our contribution since 2016 have raise the water levels in the lake by more than 3 feet. in addition we have been working with the state of arizona, environmental leaders and the water uses to develop a legislative proposal that will authorize us to lease our water to other users in the state. this is the same right that congress is authorized for other tribal governments in arizona and across the west. because our water rights were adjudicated by the supreme court, congress had not acted on them and we lack the authority to lease water because of the prohibition in the 300-year-old indian trade and intercourse act.
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without the right to lease our water we can do little to directly assist communities in arizona or our neighbors on the river who may face drastic water shortages in the coming years. we have worked with stakeholders in the state of arizona for over five years to develop the proposed legislation that will provide us the same sovereign rights over our water that other tribal governments have. our proposed legislation will help make arizona more water resilient and will provide our tribe with the financial resources to fund improvements to the irrigation project so that our water use may become efficient. greater efficiency on a reservation means we can do more to help the river. the colorado river indian tribes are committed to working with the united states to support on river habitat.
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including providing more water and land for endangered species protection. our legislative proposal will also permit us to lease secure water supplies to third parties including municipalities on the river and those served by the cap that are facing shortages. this may reduce the demand for groundwater that is not sustainable in arizona. our first priority water right can be diverted directly to the colorado river with little to no risk of reducing reduction during shortages and will limit the need for new or additional water delivery. leasing our water for authorization use does include a cost for us. if you visit our reservation you'll see more than 10,000 acres of our farmland. a reminder our people have chosen to protect the health of the river.
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our legislative proposal will only allow leasing of water we have used on the reservation for at least four of the five recent years. this will keep the river and all other water users whole. we are simply requesting the right to decide for ourselves how to best use our water because we do not have this right today. it has been an honor to be here today and i thank you for inviting me. i will submit written testimony and am pleased to answer any questions you might have. thank you. >> appreciate that chairwoman flora's parade let me remind members of the committee that rule 3d imposes a five minute limit on questions but will now turn to member questions i will recognize members starting with myself. chair florez i would like to begin with you please. thank you for joining us i appreciate the conversation
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about how your tribe is committed to providing the colorado river the same support it has provided us, and your words, for so long. then he continued talking about how your tribe will support water use through leases that help strengthen the colorado river. i have no doubt about your commitment to your end appreciate your comments. but i do want to follow up on that subject and just ask about the national environmental policy act. one of our important protections and federal law which spotlights any federal action and develops alternatives that can be chosen to avoid or limit harmful impacts and unintended consequences. went to ask as you develop and refine your legislation on water leasing, will you support the preservation and other environmental protections in a manner similar to what i understand has been done with other
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arizona and elsewhere. >> thank you for your question. guess we will follow all of the requirements that other tribes imposed with. >> thank you for that. the problem i have the colorado river we have legal entitlements that add up to 17.5 acre-feet of water every year. and with global warming i am a more realistic more modern assessment were able to deliver something given our math problem, i want to ask how you view prioritizing system conservation and future water leases and prioritizing other
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actions that can help us reduce overall consumption and address the systemic shortage. >> could you repeat that question again? that was a long question. >> i will not repeat the whole thing but you know we have an imbalance for the entitlements that far exceed what we now understand the hydrology of the basin will provide it. and so i just want to ask how you viewed the idea of prioritizing conservation and teacher water leases and also actions that can reduce overall consumption. >> our proposed legislation. thank you for the question for a proposed legislation only permits us to lease water that we have been using already on our reservation. so, we are required to reduce consumptive used to make water available. >> the time i have left i have a couple questions for assistant secretary, to start
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with large-scale water recycling. this is drought polite of course we've historically done on a smaller scale but with the larger scale projects we can provide supply for millions of people. so i want to ask you the planet in the future for the colorado river basin. >> thank you have a system for un- commuting. water recycling is a very important component of our portfolio and new authorization proposed in the infrastructure, passage will be very helpful. it represents a good opportunity to continue the collaboration we've seen at this stage to continue to
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partner between the federal government and the local entities who are doing so much on the ground. we are going to have to do conservation in every state going forward to help continue address what we see bree thank you for thinking proactively about that this issue. >> thank you for the limited time we have left could use speak quickly about salton sea restoration? why is it is important not just in california but other states? >> thank you for recognize the importance. i formerly lived and worked in california i met as recently as yesterday at the representatives from the irrigation district. this helped create stability with respect to the interactions within california. which also helps create stability with the other states and with our government. it's great to see support from
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representatives in arizona recently for funding and support. i know the upper basin states similarly reached out support of those efforts as well. i think there is a recognition of importance. >> thank you very much. i see you back on the screen, are you ready to go? >> and ready to go but. >> excellent your recognize. >> thank you mr. chair. madame assistant secretary the situation anew are familiar with it and the claimant has led this year to a choice between instream interest on one hand and farmers on the other. here in the colorado we can see the same situation approaching. i think it's only been through
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incredible amounts of hard work by folks in that basin to avoid such a stark choice. but let's assume the worst, hate to do so. but let's assume the worst and when it comes to the future there are dangerous places on the colorado. tell us if you will, what do you think the outcome would be if it comes down to the four endangered species in the colorado on one hand and the other hand. tell me, will the same thing happened on the colorado that happened? >> thank you for that question. we have had tremendous challenges we work very hard to balance several competing
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demands for insufficient water supplies. we have the worst drought ever this past year. it was a horrible situation to be in. the colorado river basin can be a good model for continued coordination in including with respect to the endangered species challenges that exist. there are three different recovery programs in the basin that have a wide range of support from the water users, from the environmental community, from the tribe, from our federal team as well. we have a strong record to be building from in the basin. i think it is a good model we can use in other contexts as well. appreciate being part of the conversation. >> thank you madam secretary just want to say thank you for the work the bureau has done and help an extraordinary difficult situation.
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what i'm really trying to call out though, is the very high probability that we are going to see this happen again and again as we look into this a very, very water short future. so, what i am hoping we will be able to do is address the endangered species act in a way i think you kind of alluded to when you said you people are working together to try to figure how to make these things work. the kind of all or nothing zero what we see is not the proper future for the proper futures are we figure out a way of trying to make sure everybody gets something in these situations as opposed to cutting everybody off as did happen in the climate. the reason i brought this up is because people are suffering so greatly from this. even notwithstanding her
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excellent efforts in trying to help people out. i am just saying i welcome this conversation today because i see the same thing coming on the colorado that we had to deal with in the climate this year. i am just so wishing we don't have to deal with it again forgive me for going on like this. as set important to the people of my era. not only my area but the central valley projects. having said that i'm going to shift over to chairwoman for a second period you mention, chairwoman, the colorado indian tribes that work with stakeholders in the state of arizona for over five years to proposed that you've highlight. what are the major barriers major barriers for legislation
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we have done that, we have been -- over the past five years having meetings. and having a voice. not having a voice was one of the barriers. so now we do have a voice. stakeholders and other entities are recognizing them and they see our water and our first priority water rights. and they see that we have been participating in the pilot programs of battling our lands. we have been committed and held our end of the bargain by keeping the water in lake mead with the pilot program and also the dcp.
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they're welcome to join in and be a part of the solution and not a hindrance in saving the river. we need to take care of this river. there are many other barriers there is water allocation were not recognized and viewing all in seeing the shortages. and so we have something to offer, thank you. >> thank you for that. mr. chair masaru did on my clock condo i have my time left for another question questioner. >> remitted 18 into the red. so my answer is no. but we can come back. >> thank you.
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>> thank you for your comments and thank you for bring up the dire conditions they climate basin which we both represent part of the gentleman is aware in every interest has been suffering. i represent in the species are also getting hammered. there are no big winners in this drought condition. i did once make that point. i think and historically i've been involved in this with my days of the egg and water committee, the precious water resource we all depend upon your face in the 21st century climate change. not only for western states but for our entire country and
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the world. it will ultimately determine whether we are amicably able to live and support an increased population. not only in our country but around the world. it may remind them most of you know part of the challenge here is the rights to the colorado when the final allocation was resolved with the law of the river it allocated seven half-million acre-feet of water to pumper basin spaces seven half-million to lower basin states that includes california and nevada. additional water and a half for it was determined back then the average yield with 16.4 million acre-feet per year. but the fact of the matter is that was over allocated we know that today. it's estimated water flow over the past two decades have
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continued to we have over supermicro subscribed the river that's part of the challenge here. the native americans in the nation states are represented here have an important requirement that they be afforded their water rights as well. we have folks who have determined that rights to the river that have yet to be resolved. that is on top of what has already been determined to be allocated. we've got more demand and guess what since the 1960s all of the southwestern states the upper basin states in the lower basin states are still growing and more demands on that water. whether were talking about new mexico, arizona, nevada, california, colorado. so how we deal with this conundrum with climate change
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is really the issue at hand. so i have long sought and asked my questions that we've got to use all the water tools in the water cool box. we have get waters from a number of sources one of the primary sources is the colorado river basin. how does federal investment in the water structure including improving conveyance help california and the entire western state become more resilient to climate change impacts on her water supplies? >> thank you councilman. the muting comes from your side so we got it figured out, thank you for. >> as long as the chairman gives me the ten seconds you were muted. [laughter] >> that's a deal.
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your clear leadership on these issues the investments absolutely make a difference with respect to the water supply there is a strong connection are seeking to achieve in the color red or river basin that is a clear recognition that exists. our infrastructure proposals include investments in modernizing the aging infrastructure we have and develop more water recycling and innovative technology to more efficiently use water and basic investments throughout the basin. >> on big supporter of that if i got about 45 seconds left. i know you have your working group as part of the water sub cabinet meeting.
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we in california with her multiple sources are looking at ways to better reinforce her own conveyance and provide ability to the use of solar power and all means. to the degree we can use these observation tools to not only improve our species but improve water for our farms and farm communities with these extreme drought conditions. we'll talk more about the money but i think in the next hearing i would like to know how you are going to come up to this various cabinet allocate these funds and how we can work with you so all of the states impacted by the colorado river including california can participate in the allocation of these funds. they are desperately needed during the extreme droughts. i want to thank the chairman and the subcommittee chairman on the reconciliation it's
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important as we work through this. >> i think the gentleman i'm now told representative gohmert gonzales will go next. >> thank you chairman for allowing me. i've been hearing the witnesses knowing what's happening all of us have our problems and i think the witnesses have illustrated these can be achieved by working together. so i want to say thank you but i want to yield my time to ranking member. >> thank you so much for that
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yield. i will only utilize so i can give my overreach back to the chair. continued improvements for system modeling tools are you working on design of better tools to anticipate what we are going to do trying to the best information for own decision-making. but to have available for the communities in the water managers around the west.
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including in the colorado river basin. we work closely with her other federals at noah, the weather service in the forecast center to be able to have alignment in the information we are per providing. we have exit technical staff at reclamation who strive to communicate very effectively with the folks working on these issues. >> thank you for that. when that mr. chair i'm going to yield back and hope we are now even when i will stick with them my five minutes next time around. thank you again for the yield. >> i think the gentleman an order is restored. that is much appreciated. i believe mr. soto is next on our side per the gentleman from florida is recognized. >> thank you so much mr. chairman coming to you from what is generally floored at rich and water country although our aquifer may have
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some stresses on it. we are proud of the 8.3 billion that's in the build back better act help with western water issues. chairman i notice you need a little extra time so i wanted to yield to you, if you would still wanted the remainder of my time. >> i wish she would yield some of your water to california. >> went everyone to fund that cross nation pipeline i don't think it's ever going to be feasible. but i appreciate the thought. i do not have further questions in this round. >> then not yield to mr. costa at the remainder of my time. >> mr. costa you are recognized. >> thank you very much representative for the
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opportunity and mr. chairman as well. i would like to get back to the area we were discussing earlier. we have a water related of 1.7 billion plus. that not only deals with the president's request but additional funding fiscal year 21. the total comes to 1.95 the bipartisan infrastructure bill will deal with some of those in california and then for local communities we have so many communities whether their native american communities
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drinking water does not meet with state or federal standards. how quickly do you think you're going to get that money out if equipment does not mention the reconciliation monies i spoke of earlier i don't know how much that's going to be depending upon what happens with the reconciliation obviously. what is the strategy where most needed. >> thank you, thank you very much. the short answer is they are building upon our existing program. we have a very efficient way of getting the additional funding out to the community. were building upon the programs we have. we have additional request for
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funding and i think that was working coordination by design for how some of this came together on purpose. >> part of that in the bureau obviously has its challenges to be sure. we worked on the federal budget we worked on the agreement we allowed legislation signed into law to work with local districts under the thought they might be able to facilitate the implementation of funding and a more expedited fashion in the bureau, have you looked at different ways you can deal with local agencies to facilitate getting these expediting these funds? >> we are always looking for ways to be more efficient.
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since january we have already figured out how to allocate funding to over 220 different districts throughout the midwest. >> native american groups as well frankly. >> absolutely. we have expanded our tribal technical support program and have prioritize the ability to efficiently work with them in coordination with our other partners here at the bureau of indian affairs, we are trying to be as efficient as possible with these programs. >> my time is almost expired i think it be helpful for the subcommittee and the full committee frankly to get an idea of what is realistic to be expected in terms of what has been allocated for the next fiscal year that can actually be moved out and in the next several years. i think that will be helpful for all of us.
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>> absolutely break. >> a gentlemen's time has expire by the chair now recognizes ms. stansberry from new mexico for five minutes. : : : representing new mexico and the hill and we are so grateful for your leadership with other partnerships and of course we are joined by the state engineer that is here. as a fellow i'm excited to have you all here today to talk about
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the colorado river and our other crucial watersheds in the west. as we all know our rivers and communities have been gripped across the west by a drought that's here that our communities are no strangers to water scarcity as they lived on these lands time and memorial and began have shown waters across many generations. it's clear what we are not seeing today is part of a larger trend of a changing climate as temperatures are getting hotter and we are seeing fundamental changes in the system and nowhere is this more visible than mexico where the communities faced historic drought conditions this year at the same time the state has had the largest number of disaster declarations due to flooding and
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wildfires. for the ability of the communities during water to the fields and the tribes and farmers and ranchers and rivers which depend on these life-giving waters. while the colorado river has been strained by these changes, we also see the partnerships in the basin led by the panelists joining us here today that are helping to bring transformational change to the management and of these partnerships are crucial not only to the communities in the colorado river but those that flow through my district that depend on the water transfers from the colorado to meet the needs of the community's and the endangered species. as we look to the future and managing the systems in a time of climate change, we need to continue to leverage these collaborative partnerships to invest in the best technology that we can to invest in
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modernizing the infrastructure and operational requirements and ensure the communities are helping directed the decisions made about the water system. i believe our job as lawmakers is to make sure that we are putting into place all of the changes that are necessary to end power the community by passing transformational water policies, working to protect, trust and treaty responsibilities, water rights in investing and water management agencies investing in resilient infrastructure as we are doing in the build back better act and investing in our water science a data and technology and protecting those. that is our charge as public servants and caretakers of these sacred waters. with that, mr. chairman, i would like to use my remaining time to ask the assistant secretary
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you've worked across the west in colorado and many of the rivers through many years. can you please share with us what you think congress can do to lift up the best of these collaborative efforts and what we can do to support your work? >> thank you. i think the work the congress is doing in the bipartisan infrastructure package is a great example of how that helped us do what you mentioned in your remarks. it allowed us to include our infrastructure and to do more water planning and drought contingency planning efforts in these programs that we have and i think the underlining emphasis
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is exactly the way that we want to continue doing business in the colorado river basin. >> thank you so much. if you would indulge me i just want to say that i'm grateful that we have mr. hill here today who's such an incredible resource on how we make sure they have a seat at the table as we are directing and protecting our water rights for the tribes and communities moving forward we are going to continue this new mexico thread by recognizing the congresswoman for the next five minutes. >> are you getting an echo or am i alright? >> i love the sound of your voice but we are hearing it
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twice. [inaudible] >> okay is this better? >> sounds pretty clear. go ahead. >> [inaudible] earlier this year i did a tour in my district and at each stop leaders told me about the impact of the climate crisis on the communities. something that resonated is the importance of tribes being talked to before things happened. the users immediately which we seize water from the colorado noted that they were never consulted and constructed and they noticed how it negatively
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impacted the canal and structures but they just want part of the conversation. in your testimony, you talked about and the idea that you named the sovereign governance team and you thought it was important that this be created with the agreement. can you give us a short synopsis of what sovereign governance teams look like and what you want us to do and what should it look like in the consultation? did i go mute again? thank you for the question and acknowledgment. to understand right now there is
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no institutionalized inclusion of the tribal sovereigns. we have to rely on the status of her and or the federal sovereign to represent our tribal water interests. and we've really built the foundation of understanding i think particularly in the colorado river basin in terms of the absolute need to be and that sovereign table with the federal government and the state sovereigns to make policy for the future of the colorado river because the current policy isn't inclusive of that and no matter how much you want to engage in the conversation of inclusion the structure doesn't allow for that right now so we are talking about drought and drought response, yes we can be part of the conversation and how to live sustainably so why not use the
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template of somebody that we've already created and that seems to have worked to a large extent and this will do a number of things in terms of forwarding the colorado river when we start thinking about the culture and behaviors and how will we apportion those resources? >> let me get too quick questions in as you know the water supply project in my congressional district and with other surrounding communities. i'm going to put this together with other pipelines because what we have is access pipelines
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and finishing them have been delayed and we don't have the authorized spending level that is needed. we no longer have enough money for the nation on amendments to the project authorization to take advantage, to make sure that we recognize the true cost and also we are going to have to make sure there's additional groundwater wells to supply the communities until the project is complete. i'm hoping that you will be willing to work with us to get that done. >> thank you. representative that is near and dear to my heart and i've been working on it very closely for 15 years. we would be happy to make sure your staff and yourself are
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aware of all the progress we have been making. we have been working very closely with folks there in the region of the navajo nation and in the local communities to think creatively about how to make sure we have the effective components of the program and we would be happy to work with your office and others to make sure that we can make any adjustments that may be needed but i would be happy to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony and then i look forward to being able to participate if that portion of the pipeline has been completed, the managers did a great job with that and it's currently providing water and community and it's a great example of the commitment in the department of
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interior and the tribal needs in the state of new mexico. >> the time is expired and the chair recognizes the chairman of the full committee, representative granholm of arizona. >> i think the chair for her comments and kind remarks. very much appreciated and as the chair woman knows all of us are very much aware of the significant contribution made to accomplish even that portion of the plan. let me follow up on something
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that the chair was asking. the comments if you throw out other environmental protections, air quality, water quality, the job will be resolved. that's not true. it's not even a false choice. i asked this because i think it's important about the utilization and usage going forward. as you put together the proposal we at least prioritize the part that dealt with the deficit at the colorado river, the primary focus of it if i may ask. it's so prerogative to put in there what you want and i had
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knowledge that. my question is that something that is a consideration? do we have the chairwoman? thank you for the question. we want our sovereignty protected to use the water as we decide. right now we can >> our land, the farm land, but our travel members decided in a referendum that they do not want to make multi-generational of our commitment of water for new development. we're finally free from the
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long time land leases and do not want to be committed in the same way. we're committed to the river and our neighbors and overall environment. we want the authorities to decide for ourselves how to use our water, which is the same authority as other tribes in arizona have. >> time. >> and water to do so. >> and i respect that and trust me, i respect that, in this legislative process the question is inevitable and i think that further discussions that chairman hoffman and you have had with had your leadership and yourself, madam chair, thank you for what you are doing for arizona and thank you very much, appreciate it. >> thank you. >> tribes in the colorado river
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basin still doesn't have the resolution, and for the tribe, and i think for the whole basin. talk about that. >> more of a statement, and it's pretty obvious. you're muted. >> sorry about that, chairman huffman. i'm very sorry. incredibly good question in terms of the tribes in the
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basin. the supply and demand and the conversation, where is that water going to come from in that particular climate because that tribe actually has that water. and it has a right to water for domestic uses, even paramount to, you know, just a settlement, you know, so it becomes really important that we start to for certainty of the basin, not only recognize this or quantify, but those that are unquantified because those have to be included into the conversation. >> thank you. certainly, i think it's the key word that you use and it's critical to that for the basin. if i may, one question. you know, we've heard from the tribal nation about the table and it's correct. 25% of the resources, they have to be at the table not only
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proportionally, but with equity. in the past, the table has been dominated by users whose interest is on the commercial side and not only how they created the balance in the future and the drop management plans in 2026. how are we going to create that balance? >> yeah, first, you have to acknowledge-- this is revealed. >> i'm sorry, i'm sorry. >>. [laughter] thank you mr. chairman, and mr. chairman, we recognize the importance of the importance of our tribes and have been working very closely in several
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forums and several that he's involved with, the water and initiatives and the partnerships and we also have a technical discussion going on with regular conversations throughout the basin, with our tribes and then in arizona, the inter-tribal forums allows us multiple opportunities for interactions and then we think, going forward, we're going to have to be as inclusive as possible in all of the space with respect to the state representatives, the local communities, the nonprofit organizations, very, very broad interested people who are depending on the couldle kohl river and they will need to be part of our discussions going forward. >> thank you. when this was created there's many different constituencies
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to be heard in the development of those plans. >> thank you. mr. chairman, i yield. thank you, and i know that as he was attempting to chime in, he was going to remind us, that he had suggested the columbia river basin as a potential model, i'm sure, to your question. so i appreciate his testimony and everyone in our fan panel of tribal witnesses and we'll move on to a second panel and i'd like to remind the second panel witnesses to please mute yourself when you're not speaking. of course, the flib flip side of that, unmute yourself when you're reminded of that side of it as well. i will allow the witnesses to finish their testimony before they bring it back to members for questions and i'll now introduce the second panel. we have the governors representing the seven states of the colorado river basin with us to represent testimony.
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we'll first hear from the governor's representatives, rather. we won't have all seven governors themselves, but we'll have representatives from all seven of those governors. we'll hear first from mr. thomas and the chair recognizes him for five minutes. >> and you're muted. >> okay. we're going to try to fix the audio. let's give it just a moment. we can have mr. peter nelson from the colorado river board of california ready on deck if we can't get the audio fixed. >> and chairman, can you hear
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me now? >> there you go. we've got you loud and clear. thank you for providing an opportunity to testify today on behalf of the state of the arizona. the droughts have had devastating impacts on the colorado river in 2022, arizona will lose 18% of its total colorado river entitlements, impact to tribal uses, and water will result. arizonians have come together to provide financial resources and wet weather to partially mitigate those impacts. the likelihood of deeper cuts is high and in 2023, arizona may lose additional 80,000 acre seat and mitigation for those reductions is unlikely. in august, projections of lake mead triggered a consultation in the lower drought and
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contingency plan. arizonans have met and plan to do more. and they fall into two categories, mandatory cuts for additional conservation. arizona's goal is conservation and not greater cuts. tribal and nontribal partnerships will an i achieve that goal. >> and reservoir elevationings we must have data and modeling projects by reclamation that provide the best available science. two achieve outcomes to share the benefits and risks, attendants of the colorado system. and three, adhere to the ethics of collaboration along the states, mexico, the united states, tribes and other stakeholders, four, recognize that we are connected from
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wyoming to the sea of cortez. five, incentivize actions that conserve water in lake meade. >> resources from the united states and its agencies mutts be tools in the toolbox and seven, continue state participation as well as discussions with mexico. as i mentioned, arizona tribes are key stake holders in colorado river management. a healthy river is critical to tribal rights settlements. arizona has 11 of the 22 tribes yet to be determined in whole or in part. uncertainty attached to climate change impacts on the flow of the river and to the post 2026 operating criteria further complicates completion of settlements. but it's important to the state that those tribal claims be settled. in conclusion, drought and climate change are presenting challenges that are likely to
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increase over time, planning, management, robust collaboration and across jurisdictions and among steakholders, create the greatest for success today and in the future and i thank you again and i stand ready to answer questions. >> thank you, mr. buschatzke we'll go to the colorado chairman of the colorado river board. >> congratulations. my name is peter nelson and i'm the chairman of colorado river board of california and californians colorado river commissioner, i'd like to thank the committee, and the chairman huffman and the chairman and other members of the committee for holding the hearing at a time of historic drought. regardless of why the climate has changed, the record is clear, less than average precipitation is resulting in
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runoff, causing lake levels to plummet. putting 40 million americans at risk, environmental havoc and food production peril. the colorado river board of california represents the collective interests of colorado river water users in our state. we protect the rights and interests of california's water and hydro power resources. we provide peer-to-peer relationships in collaborative interstate discussions, the federal government, the tribes and mexico. california is also experiencing drought with equal, if not greater severity. allocations for the state water project contractors in 2021 are just 5%. the department of water resources is signaling contractors to expect an initial 0% allocation, meeting a snow pack of 140% just to get a normal runoff. and for the first time ever
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orville dam is unable to produce power due to low reservoir levels. pre 1914 water rights holder were issued orders to stop diversion. on the brighter side, california has stepped up in 2003 with the classification settlement agreement to reduce colorado river uses by 800,000 acre feet annually and including mitigation measures for the sul tan sea. we areceived and exceeded conservation through the 2007 shortage criteria and 2019 south contingency plans and 1.3 million acre feet of storage in lake meade, adding 14 feet of mitigation. and the water district has conceived and palo verde has partners in arizona, nevada and the bureau of reclamation.
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and they're currently collaborationing on a large scale recycling project in the los angeles basin. this has the potential to create 150,000 acre annually of water for the region, reducing demand on the colorado river. naturally, with the largest share california's river use, a target will the imperial river district. imperial has participated in the largest ag to urban transfer through the quantification settlement. and any additional water programs will need to, of course, have this and need to dress the salt and sea mitigation. california is collaborating with our sister states in the basin, native american tribes who need access to clean and reliable water and deepen the process. federal agencies, colleagues in mexico in developing the next
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set of colorado river system operating guidelines to be put in place in 2026. we are responding with all hands on deck to the reconsultation requirements under the dcp1030 elevation trigger in collaboration with these partners. we urge the committee to support and provide funding for partnerships involving large scale regional recycling projects. conservation programs. focusing mitigation and water quality improvements, including addressing salt reduction from the valley community. it will be through collaboration and corroboration that we'll have any chance much meeting these challenges and we'll need the united states to be involved in these efforts. thank you for the opportunity to provide this statement and i look forward to addressing any questions you may have. >> thank you, mr. nelson. the committee will now hear
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from the general manager of the southern nevada water authority. you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman huffman, representative napolitano and members of the subcommittee. and thank you for being the petitioned today. i'm the general manager. it's not news to this subcommittee that the unprecedented hydro logic conditions on the colorado river have left lakes powell and meade at critical elevations. the math problem we face is simple. if we rely on the promises of the 1920 a he is -- 1920's and 1940's, there is access to millions each year. and annually 14 million abing er acre feeds and over the years, 12.3 million acre feet.
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and despite urban warnings from the scientific community that in the face of climate change we must plan for a future with less than 12.3 million acre feet, there is not yet anything approaching concensus within the river community as to how dry of a future we should plan for. and while this panel was asked to talk about drought, there's more and more evidence on the ground that what the colorado river is actually facing is not drought, but a permanent transition to a drier future. if we're to build upon the river's many successes over the last 25 years, we must confront the magnitude of the challenge in front of us and quickly reach agreements on what future scenarios we're willing to plan for. but defining the problem is only the first step. we must develop additional supplies, pursue aggressive conservation, and make
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investments in technologies and tools that show promise in helping us achieve both. the agricultural and municipal sectors must work together and to that end, research is underway to test the effectiveness of drip irrigated alfalfa projects in arizona, but the learning is slow and the pace of engagement between urban and agriculture water uses must be accelerated. as we work on our long-term goals, we must also recognize that the only near term management strategy for protecting critical lake meade elevations is reducing use. southern nevada has investigated billions of dollars in water construction and infrastructure. nevada represents a mere 1.8% of the river's allocated flows. efficiency must be throughout the basin. we must also develop additional supplies. metropolitans, regional reuse
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project represents long-term supply often for the lower basin and we continue to urge the passive of the large scale investment act. cooperative regional projects of this kind represent the best for adding new supplies into the lower basin. our progress towards sustainable solutions depends on partnerships and well coordinated action. but the river community is at a crossroads. we have a simple, but difficult decision to make, do we double down on the promises of the last century and fight about water simply that isn't there, or do we roll up our sleeves and deal with the climate realities of the century. thank you for the opportunity to testify, i'll be happy to answer any questions. >> thank you. up next is miss rebecca mitchell, the administrator of colorado water conservation board and you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman huffman and members of the
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subcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to testify today. i am becky mitchell, director of the colorado water conservation, and as director of our state's water policy agency and colorado's negotiator on the colorado river, i want to share my insights on the impacts of drought in colorado and upper basin states and the fact that there's an impact our relative water supply security from an interstate perspective. the entire colorado basin has been impacted by drought, but those impacts have been felt differently in the upper basin and lower basin because of where lakes meade and they sit. above of the reservoir are above water level uses and below upper basin uses. having the large reservoirs above them meant the lower basin had some some certainty in their water deliveries. in fact the lower basin states have never faced shortages to
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their deliveries from lake meade and will not until 2022. in contrast the upper basin, we've taken shortages every year over the last 20 years. without that upstream we're reliant on snow pack. for this reason that the upper basin uses are variable. when snow pack is abundant, water is available for use. but when the snow is thin, water is not there, and our water users go without. a perfect example of the impacts of climate change. colorado has suffered from consecutive years of low stream flows. perpetual dry soil conditions have increased absorption, a snow melt and reduced spring runoff. this year has been especially difficult. 90% of the state is currently experiencing drought. an example of the difficult situations that coloradans are dealing with, a major storage
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project in southwestern colorado received only 1/10 of its water allocation this year. and due to the compounding years of shortages, people across the state are considering heartbreaking decisions like selling multi-generational family farms. these decisions have significant psychological, sociological and economic impacts to the community. the water shortages facing southwest colorado the last two years fell heavily on the mountain tribe, whose communities depend on revenue generated from cost production. on top of these, these made from blue mesa impacted the local, recreational economy. and these releases were made by the bureau from the response agreement part of the drought contingency plan and there were also releases from new mexico and wyoming.
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the drought, dry soil conditions and warmer temperatures have also left our forests more vulnerable to fire. the summer of 2020 brought record-breaking fires including three of the largest wildfires in colorado's history. in total, over 650,000 acres were burned and hundreds of homes were destroyed. we're still dealing with the aftermath of the fire, including catastrophic mudslides. will little vegetation to hold the soil in place, heavy rain storms brought roughly 65,000 tons of mud and debris down the slopes, closing interstate 70 for 17 straight days. it's important for me as commissioner of the head water states to make sure that everyone who has worked impacts the colorado river understands the challenges that coloradans face, particularly as we implement the 2019 drought contingency plans and consider the negotiation of the post 2026 operations of the major reservoirs.
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as we look forward to those negotiations, one critical element will be meaningful engagement with the tribal nations and the colorado basin. speaking as colorado's commissioner, i talked to the representatives of the southern ute and the mountain ute tribes regularly, sovereign to soch sovereign. colorado has settlements with each tribe is different with different needs, values, histories and relationships. negotiators in each state should take the time to sit down with each tribe in their state to understand their unique positions and needs. it will also be important to recognize that since not everything can be addressed through these operational guidelines that we must also support initiatives that recognize the urgent need to ensure tribes have access to clean drinking water. in addition to supporting initiatives, providing funding for infrastructure to access clean drinking water for tribes, colorado also supports
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ongoing efforts to fully fund implementation of the drought contingency plans, investments in agricultural sustainability and effiency and recovery programs in the upper basin, including through house resolution, 50011. my discussions with discussions across the state of colorado including tribe representatives, ngo's and all types of water users helped me develop some principles that will remain in the forefront of my mind through the upcoming negotiations. i believe all of those here today can stand behind two of those goals. first, we must continue the experience of interstate collaboration and cooperation that has defined the work in the basin for 1100-- 100 years. and provide water and certainty for all. and the lower basin and upper basin who rely on this critical resource. we're committed to be a part of the solution that works for all of the colorado river basin. thank you, i will be available
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for questions. >> thank you, ms. mitchell. we'll now hear from mr. john dantonio, from the state of new mexico. you're recognized. >> [inaudible] >> we're not getting audio from you, unfortunately, mr. dantonio and i don't think you're muted. let's try again. >> can you hear me? [inaudible] >> it's pretty faint. can you try to give us a little test here? >> can you hear me now? >> let's keep working on that.
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can we come back to you, mr. dantonio? i think if we can, we should jump ahead to mr. gene shawcroft general manager of the central utah water district and we'll come back to mr. dantonio when we can get a little better volume level for him. so mr. shawcroft if you're with us, you're recognized. >> good afternoon to all. thank you for conducting this hearing. chairman huffman, ranking member vance and the members of the subcommittee. my name is gene shawcroft, i serve as utah's commissioner and general manager for the central utah water conservancy district. the district is the state sponsor of the central-- [inaudible] utah project and is also the largest diverter of colorado river water in utah. the colorado river provides over one third of utah's water supply and is fundamental to
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its prosperity. with such reliance on the river, the unprecedented drought and main stem reservoir storage and river flows is alarming. on march 17th, governor cox declared a state of emergency due to drought conditions and urged fellow utahns to use less water. the effectiveness is promising. over this time last year, we've reached reductions as high as 32%. as general manager, i've also overseen the implementation of the largest water program of colorado river water in utah. section 207 of the simply utah project completion act statutorily requires us to conserve up to 80,000 acre feet annually by 2033. we are conserving nearly 140,000 acre feet. 50% more than what our statutory requirements. additional work must be done.
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nowhere is it more important than in the colorado river basin. we know that extreme conditions like this year will become more frequent, further straining a river system that's reaching a breaking point. the plan includes a commitment by the upper division states to evaluate the temporary, voluntary and compensated demand management program to reduce the use. in addition, the drought response operating agreement is also being actively implemented in the upper basin. this agreement governs the release of storage water upstream of lake, once operational adjustments have been considered at lake powell. releases from the upper reservoirs are underway as we speak, as has been mentioned. also, as ms. mitchell mentioned, upper basin routinely taken shortages, measured by the significant reductions in water available for use by our system. like others, we face challenges
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in supplying water to a state with explosive growth, even as the supply diminishes. overcoming these challenges is a tall orders we must tackle together with the inclusion of all stake holders. utah is committed to the development and use of new technology to aid in forecasting and measurement of diversions, use and completions. one particularly important platform using remote sensing for measurement of depletion is open et. and continued congressional support of such work, especially as it shifts from the research to application arena, is necessary. further use of such tools will allow for consistent demonstration, excuse me, consistent determination of depletions across all colorado river basin states. congressional support for rural water investments, conservation programs, outreach, education,
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and additional research is also critical. i grew up on a small farm in colorado. as a boy, my favorite day was the day the snow melt went into the canals. that meant we could eat and live comfortably. i learned that water is finite, shared and a common resource. and when it comes to the colorado river, the most expected solutions for the river must be collaborative. each of the basin states is bound together by a common goal, which is to utilize this precious water resource in a responsible way that honors governing law and allows us to meet the needs and priorities of our communities. thank you again for the opportunity to share this information and i'll be happy to answer questions. thank you. >> thank you, mr. shawcroft. let's go back to mr. dantonio to see if we can hear him now?
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>> can you hear me? >> mr. dantonio, i don't know what to say, we're just not able to hear you and so, unfortunately, while we can keep trying to work on that, we're going to have to have your written testimony suffice for the time being, if we can trouble shoot the audio, i'm happy to-- i'm sure we'd like to question you in the questioning. but given that problem, we will now hear from mr. pat terrell from the upper colorado river commission. >> thank you chairman huffman, ranking member, and members of the subcommittee. am i being heard? >> yes, thanks for checking. >> well, thank you, with mr. dantonio's problem, i thought i would check. i am patrick terrell, wyoming's
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commission to the upper colorado river. thank you for providing the opportunity to present testimony today on behalf of the state of wyoming. you've heard much already today about conditions at lake mead and lake powell and the drought not limited to the major system reservoirs. water users in wyoming and upper basin states continue to experience water shortages due to the extremely dry conditions. we in wyoming as other places, rely on snow melt and whatever runoff is available on the rivers and streams. and when it's not stuff for water rights, only the most center water rights get satisfied. there for like our other upper basin states, ours have
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routinely suffered shortages even though wyoming developed less than two-thirds of its compact apportionment under a full supply. during drought years, wyoming water use is reduced by more than 20% compared to years when water is more plentiful. these shortages get little attention and require no federal declaration. but they happen nevertheless and carry with them attendant economic impacts. collaboration will continue to be the key in responding to drought since before 2000. the basin states reclamation, mexico, basin tribal leaders, ngo's, water users and others have collaborated to implement unprecedented, innovative and proactive measures. as the challenges increase, that collaboration must not only continue, but improve.
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we intend to continue that coordination as we develop post 2026 reservoir operating rules. however, post 2026 guidelines cannot address all of the numerous issues and impacts caused by this drought. many can only be addressed by other response measures. the upper basin will continue to implement the 2019 drought contingency plan and with the 1922 compact. further releasing shortage from upstream federal reservoir you heard from mr. shawcroft is only a first line of defense that protect critical elevations at lake powell. existing storage is finite and cannot protect the lake by many of the scenarios now projected. and if such a program is feasible. any upper basin demand programs
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faces difficult challenges to be resolved before it can be developed and implemented. more is needed to help ensure the basin's drought resilience and the most immediate needs assuring the federal commitment under the dcp can be met and securing acts for clean water for tribal communities and securing authorization and long-term funding for the cc's recovering program. there's a real need for a broad range of investments and students. including water storage infrastructure, advancing large scale augmenttation, facilitating system conservation, promoting watershed help, promoting forest restoration and management, improving ag operations and incentivizing conservation and including water supply forecasts. the effects of this historic drought extend from the headquarters in colorado and wyoming to each upper and lower basin state and into new mexico. drought response measures must
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equally stretch across the entirety of the basin. success will requirement development and implementation across federal agencies in cooperation and partnership with the basin states, and the tribes, water users, and other stakeholders. wyoming is ready and willing to engage in that collaborative effort necessary to build and sustain water resiliency throughout the state and to provide more information on the types of investments and opportunities most likely to help ensure the colorado river basin continues to support a thriving economy and a healthy environment. thank you for the opportunity to testify here today. i will remain and be happy to answer any questions that you or the committee may have. >> mr. terrell, thanks very much. we're going to move on to questions of the members right now. if we can figure out the problem with mr. dantonio's microphone, we'll take him out of order and come back to him,
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but in the meantime, i'm going to recognize myself for the first set of questions and i'd like to begin with mr. nelson from california. mr. nelson. we've spoken in the previous panels about the salt and sea partnership, and includes tribes, local partners, environmental stakeholders and federal agencies. could you please just expand why those partnerships are so important not just for those leaving near the salten sea and for the river community. >> thank you for the question, it's a great question. the salt and sea is historically a delta part of the colorado river. it's important to the region in southern california. first.
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the work being con now at the salten sea is associated with continued implementation of the 2003 settlement agreement which resulted in nearly 500,000 acre foot of conserved water supply that are then transferred to the coastal plains. and the sea is a critical element of the sonny bono refuge there and as other areas are resident and migratory bird species and important for ecological values. as the inflows to the sea mitigated by the qsa, and as well as increased irrigation efficiencies within the district, it continues to expand and it's resulting in a
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significant public health threat associated with blowing dust. it's my understanding that the imperial valley contains some of the highest childhood asthma rates and pulmonary health issues. this air quality impact is a social and environmental issue that is critical to the region. not only to the imperial valley, but across the valley into southwestern arizona and eastern riverside county and finally, i would say it's worth acknowledging that the commitments for collaboration and partnership contained in the august 2016mou between the obama administration and the state of california, that mou committed to state and the federal government to-- for long-term coordination and it's been a series of tasks that would be accomplished, including initial outlay of $20
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million for habitat restoration and debt suppression. and 10 million dollars for state managed monitoring. california suggests that this mou should be considered basically as a foundation for our collaboration in the area. we have the salton sea mitigation plan that the state is working through and making good progress on now. >> thank you, mr. nelson. in the time i have left i'd like to talk about the large scale water recycling potential division for bringing a new drought proof source of water to shortage challenge that we find in the basin. can you speak about why adding something like that to the region's water supply portfolio would be so critically important? and also, the state of play in terms of federal support for
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these large scale water recycling projects. are we doing enough? should we be doing more? you have the rest of my time. >> new very much, chairman huffman. first, just the water impact, and could add 160,000 acre feet of water to the system and gracious in agreeing to partner with nevada and central arizona to make that into a regional project with regional benefits. i do think more projects like that are available and as we move into the future, we really have to look at all the water within this basin as water, and pressure available for use, be those storm waters or the waste water that southern california is currently discharging into the pacific ocean. all of that water can be utilized as the problem. in terms of the federal government, there is, i believe, 450 million dollars in
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the parts of the infrastructure bill which would be very good to get that and additional funds within the reconciliation bill that would also be used not just for water reclamation, but also for federal compliance with their obligation. thank you. >> all right. i appreciate that very much. ranking member bents is next up, but i'm told we may have finally achieved an audio connection with mr. deatonio and we want to give all equal time. and if mr. bentz is willing to stand down, we'll come to him after you. >> so mr. dantonio.
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>> i'm on my cell phone. >> and we can hear you. >> okay, chairman huffman, ranking member vance, representatives from new mexico, distinguished members i'm the state engineer and the governor's representative on the colorado river compact. i very much appreciate your patience today and the opportunity to appear before you and comments and updates on behalf of the state of new mexico, regarding the current issues recording the colorado river basin. first states and shortages, in the 1992-- 1922 colorado river compact, the seven colorado river basin states agreed to share the colorado with each state apportioned exclusive beneficial condomtive--
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consumptive amounts and there have been taking limited supplies and occur annually in the san juan river basins including tributaries. and the diversion project authorized by congress in 1962 to deliver san juan water to new mexico's along the rio grande and water supply particularly during the last decade is an example in 2021, we experienced a shortage of 40%. one key component of the upper basin plan is the drought response operation agreement. in june 2021, reclamation that lake powell may fall below the critical supply and under the provision, the upper division states, started releasing 181,000 acre feeds to this year
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from three main reservoirs in the upper basin to help boost the elevation of lake powell. reclamation in the upper division states are working on the planned issue through any future operations. projects in the states. the colorado river storage act which would allow the upper division states to fully develop their apportionments. new mexico's upper basin water use is currently half of its apportionment. and most of new mexico's development plans in the upper basin were for tribal water development pursuant to the water settlements authorized by congress such as 2009 navajo gallop water supply project, providing sustainable water to the communities in and around the nation. the city of gallop. and those communities have been hit particularly hard by the
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drought and the covid-19 pandemic. when using or analyzing the existing trends, they should be taken into consideration. the system will need to be addressed not only for worst droughts than we have today, but also for short and wet periods from an infrastructure and public health and safety standpoint. it will be abhorrent to address the existing long ang-- term challenges-- particularly during the good years. such a desired balance is no easy task. since 2007 interim sidelines will expire in 2026. over 40 million people in seven states. the upper and lower colorado regional offices have staffed with relevant modeling and expertise to assist the basin states responding to our short-term priorities.
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ie, modeling, refinement and needs to the implications. and the operations of lakes powell and mead. we would have reclamation to the basin states in the next one to five years. and the build back better act and reclamation settlement found fo indians, water rights settlements which is an investment in our future, as well as hr-5001 the upper colorado and san juan river basin's recovery act. in conclusion 1922, the seven states agreed to the terms of the compact on the basis was a fair apportionment for the resources and protected rights for each of the signatories, for almost a century, the states have worked with each other and the federal government and republic of mexico and partners and stake holders to management the actions within the confines of the laws of the river. and future decisions--
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decision making process should consider the science and legal aspects concurrently and i'm confident all seven states will apply a fact-based approach that will consider the hole list-- holistic vision. >> thank you for your perseverance. and thank you for your forebearance. you're recognized for five minutes. thank you, thank you, mr. chair and i want to start with mr. tyrell from wyoming. you mentioned, mr. tyrell, water sheds and forest restoration, as something that, things that need to happen. here in oregon, we agree with you completely that water sheds are an absolutely essential part of our water systems and that forest restoration is absolutely essential activity, but sadly, we can't seem to get into the for rest and there's a prohibition almost on cutting down a tree or trying to remove junipers or other things that
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would help dramatically and improving the watershed and our water supply. it's the craziest thing when we all know that good things can happen and we can't seem to get there. my question to you, the same thing happening to you in wyoming? if so, what are you doing about it? >> thank you for the question representative bentz, i don't know if i can speak to wyoming and access to them. we have not been quite like oregon this year, but the victim of fires in recent years, the mullen fire last year west of laramie was horrible and in my view, as we're interested in hydro lodge health, forests and rivers, that points backward to a healthy forest. whether it's removing fuels or just having healthy growth,
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forests are valuable for the water they hold in the winter in terms of snow and in maintaining many riparian, and people that rely on water. it would seem to me looking can do nothing, but help our conditions on the river. >> thank you, shifting to ms. mitchell from colorado, there's a lot of talk, a lot of reference to collaboration and conservation and words like that, pretty general. what i would be interested in knowing is if a study has been done in your state to determine first of all, what sort of conservation might actually be available and if implemented, how much water you could actually save. and this question i could ask of anyone in seven states before us, so i don't want to pick on you particularly, but i think you did mention collaboration, certainty and other words like that so that's why i'm asking you the question. can you give us some idea how much water is available if you were able to implement
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conservation across the board in your state? >> yes, and thank you for that question, congressman. as part of our work through our colorado water plan, conservation has been one of the pillars that has stood up in how we move forward to a longrange future of water for colorado. and conservation being highlighted in that is just one of the solutions. there is some level along with gold, with the, but that's not just in the colorado river basin, it's across the entire state. there's a goal of over 400,000 acre feet of conservation measures to take place and that's across the state so i'd have to get back to you on exact what would potentially be possible, not all of our states in the colorado river basin. >> thank you for that, i'd love to see those numbers. if they exist somewhere, please
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share them. mr. shawcroft of utah, there's an unfortunate, what, focus on agriculture as the source of water in situations like this. and the result, of course, is that agriculture gets cut off because there's a lot more people in cities than there are on farms. my question to you is what should be-- the farmers be doing, given this focus they find themselves focused squarely within? >> thank you for the question. you are exactly right, a large majority of the water in utah and i believe the other states as well is used for agriculture and i agree with you many times agriculture gets a bad name for using water or wasting water. when in reality, a farmer uses water, what he diverts, part of that is used by the production of the crop.
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part of that returns to the river, which turns out to be the next appropriator's water supply. so it's not as simple as some people think simply diminishes this for agriculture, automatically produces water for culinary purposes. in my mind, it's got to be a market based situation where there's an advantage for those who are using water that has historically been used for agriculture to move it to municipal and that's typically how it's been done in utah and it happens quite comfortably if those conditions are set and by a willing seller. >> thank you, with that, mr. chair, i'll yield back. >> thank you, mr. benz. we're going to be joined by two members of the nevada delegation for the next set of questions so we'll now recognize representative titus for five minutes. >> well, thank you very much, mr. chairman. for giving us an opportunity to
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sit in on this very informative panel. you know, i represent the heart of the las vegas valley and those over two million people there, and 40 million tourists come in every year, so the water in the colorado river that goes to supply us is a very important issue. i'd like to address our representative. there are three factors happening here all at the same time. one, southern nevada's one of the fastest growing areas in the country. and increased by 18% over the last decade. but this has been going on for much longer than that, we went from 1.3 million folks to 2.3 million between 2002 and today. there was a time when you had to build an elementary school a month to keep up with the growth. so growth is one factor. second, we're the fastest warming community in the country. i think you called it--
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and that's the second factor, third, we've got the smallest amount of allocation from the river to start with and i think we're one of the best stewards of the amount that we do get. i was glad you mentioned in your comments, large scale water rescaling investment act which i'm a co-sponsor of, and in the project of the bills considered for infrastructure. all this time, these three factors are going on though, we have reduced our consumption of water. it's pretty amazing how we've been able to do that. could you talk about how we can sustain growth or continue growth while also reducing our consumption of water from the river? >> absolutely, representative titus. and good to see a couple of friendly nevada faces after being outnumbered for most of the year.
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as you say, since 2002 we have reduced our depletion of the colorado river by 23% while at the same time adding over 800,000 new residents. and we did that largely by taking out -- but we've arrived to accommodate the growth we're seeing we need to continue on that conservation journey and that's why the nevada legislature adopted this year, assembly built 356, which prohibits the use of colorado river water for nonfunctional terms in the valley 2026 and that will safe our allocation getting out of street mediums and nobody kids or grandkids are using it. so the key to our journey is continuing to control our demand because as you say, climate change is not doing us any favors either.
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we argue that our gallons per day will be nine gallons between today and 2035 because of the increased warming. well i know you had that great project where you could convert your yard to desert landscaping and that's a success. could you share with us how that works? >> absolutely. we refer to that as our water smart landscape program, right now we pay $3 a square foot to incentivize people to take out grass and the result has been pretty staggering. again, since the turn of the century, spent about $250 million of local funds to fund that program and as a result of that, actually laying 18-inch wide piece of squad around the equator with all the grass. >> wow. i'm thinking about golf courses, fountains and things,
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but in reality they use only a small percentage of the water that's consumed here in the valley, is that right? >> that's correct. and park county, the home to-- state's population uses less than 5% of the water that's available within the state of nevada. if you look at that resort industry as you said brings in 45-ish million visitors a year, 1/10 in the state of nevada. are you working with dri on any water conservation projects? >> yeah, i'm fortunate enough to sit on the board of trustees for the desert research institute and we coordinate with them regularly on the conservation initiative and water quality issues in lake mead and any other number of scientific endeavors. >> are you involved at all with the st. george water project just north of here? >> you can watch the rest of this program on our website, we'll leave it here to go live
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to the u.s. senate. senate lawmakers today voting on whether to begin debate on voting rights legislation. live coverage of the u.s. senate is here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain, dr. barry black, the chaplain: let us pray. god of all nations, lord of all people, thank you for this land
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that has received your blessings. lord, throughout our nation's history, you have saved us from ourselves. from calamities. you have blessed us even when we have failed to live up to our great heritage of freedom. today, empower our senators to protect and guard the foundations of our liberty. remind them that eternal vigilance continues to be the price we must pay for freedom. when our lawmakers are weary, replenish them with the inspiration of your presence, as they remember your promise never
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to forsake them. bellow the flickering embers of their hearts until their lives are aglow with the fires of patriotism, vision, and hope. we pray in your marvelous name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c.,


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