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tv   Environmental Experts Testify on Western Drought  CSPAN  October 23, 2021 12:24am-1:59am EDT

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p.m. on "afterwards", democratic california congressman and chair of the house intelligence committee, adam schiff talks about his book, midnight in washington counting his role in president terms first impeachment trial and views on threats against american democracy interviewed by associated press congressional correspondent lisa. ♪♪ march book tv every sunday on c-span2 confront a full schedule on your program pride watch online anytime at >> max, environmental experts testify on drop in the western united states for natural resources subcommittee. arizona democratic senator mark kelly care subcommittee hearing and northwestern states or experience think the worst drought in 1200 years. this is one hour and 40 minutes.
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>> good afternoon, everybody. the subcommittee on water and power will come to order. the purpose of today's hearing is to examine the status and management of drought in the western united states. approximately 90% of the western u.s. is currently experiencing
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some degree of moderate to severe draft. water has only spent a limited resource in the west. an old saying in arizona that whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting. by the turn of the 19th century is westward expansion took hold, a complex framework of remote and interstate water compacts allocated in some cases over allocated surface water supplies, congress later established bureau of reclamation reclaim and maximize surface water in the west today however, abnormally dry conditions are reducing availability ofnd water bonds, r industry and for cities and towns. native fish and wildlife have never been so imperiled droughtr is making force more susceptible to wildfire behind we have a
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graphic produced by the rest drought monitor program getting weekly, and shows thehe general breach of original drought has persisted the last 20 years. you can see how bad it is in the west. some permit scientists call a maker drought tree ring and soil data indicates we are expecting the worst drought in 1200 years. having surpassed last drought occurred in the late 1500s, scientific assessment show the drought conditions are made worse by the effects of climate change, rising temperatures and reduced snowmelt. this issue is a priority for me because arizona is on the front lines of this maker drought. in august, the department of interior announced its first ever drought restrictions on the
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colorado river. it affects 40 million americans in seven states. arizona,a, california, nevada, mexicoo, utah and wyoming. arizona hit the hardest. we stand to lose 18% of our l annual colorado river water allocation beginning next year. that's in a few months. unfortunately, arizona is prepared for these initial cutbacks. we are implementing mitigation efforts to keep my want in the colorado river system and improve water efficiency in our farming. we plan to save enough water so most arizonans will not be impacted but we are not out of the woods. last month the interior department produced a new
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forecast showing water levels in lake mead put soon define lower lower enough to trigger a second round of drought restrictions. lake mead is the nation's largest man-made lake or reservoir. it stores colorado river water behind the hoover dam the world's largest public infrastructure project when it was built during the great depressionon. currently, lake mead's capacity is 35%. it's the lowest level the lake was first built. sister reservoir is the second largest man-made lake in the united states and its 35% capacity protect 30% capacity. lake mead and lake powell arere poster children for western drought. t
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the bathtub ring and circles both lakes for the canyon walls were once submerged, we have not here. can see what the level was historically by that ring and what it is today. it's significantly lower. it goes from about 1290, 1299 full capacity and it's about 1067 or so feet above sea level today. ... snowmelt. arizona, california and nevada will be facing tougher drought restrictions possibly beginning
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in 2023. and then there >> title to grid reliability and resiliency in the last. reclamation projects there is a chance next year awake levels in lake powell that water generation could be affected at the dam and in some cases significantly. and that they are facing similar water scarcity in susceptibility or sustainability challenges. and they are serious because they are serious that here is the thing. there is no country in the world we can solve big problems we put our minds to it.
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will hear from a panel of experts and government and environmental advocacy who are working on water management solutions to these very issues. and i look forward to listening to their testimony. now i return it over for opening remarks. >> thank youou to the chair for calling this important meeting today to bring attention to the crippling issue that is plaguing the west. and then i your testimony and to understand how serious and drought related issues are in more importantly the potential solutions for water supply challenges. it does not have as many
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drought related issues as western states and in fact we can run into trouble at the opposite end of the spectrum with heavy rainfall and catastrophic flooding whatever the commonality between severe drought as thea impact it has on farmers and ranchers in rural communities that is intra- goal to have one out of five western farmers with irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland and 25 percent and fruits and that's it is vital we discover to discuss water infrastructure needs for farmers and ranchers in the role community. i look forward to discuss the harmful economic impact that allows for the completion of the economic development projects that develop farmers and communities and protect watershed toro protect those
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that need access to water storage the t most. thank you for being a part of this process and i sure hope to learn something from you. thank you. >>ou thank you ranking member hyde smith. first we had the assistant secretary for water and science at the department of the interior who was testifying inn person. and then we have the director of the arizona department of resources also testify in person. participating virtually we have the executive vice president of the north dakota stockman's association and finally we have missed jennifer at the colorado river program director from the national audubon society also
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participating virtually. i want to thank all of our witnesses for testifying today, especially our arizona witness your with written remarks of the included in the record and please keep your oral testimony to five minutes each. assistant secretary we will begin withh. you. >> thank you senator kelly. good afternoon i appreciate your leadership on the's issues with this hearing and also thankfully holding the subcommittee and being a part of the western water role today i'm assistant secretary for water and science at the department off the interior. thank you for the opportunity to testify regarding the status and management along
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with my fellow panelists we will present a thorough picture of how climate change and the drought are affecting our communities and environment. i was to testify in support of the infrastructure deal that contain many provisions to help assist us with these efforts. and then to experience severe drought conditions we are seeing we have never seen before and having to adapt and react in real-time and then to work to respond to situations as they are evolving. >> the new water year across the west we are starting out with those that are significantly below average.
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for example and b the colorado river basin lake powell and make me a historic close. and in california we have just seen the driest two years back to back on record. some of the reservoirs are at their historically low levels. it is essential to maintain the close coordination with our partners on the ground as we move forward if we do continue to see continued dry and warm conditions. the department of interior isit working closely with her sister agencies and then to respond to the drought. since january we have provided funding to over 220 different projects around the west and recently able to read program $100 million to be responsive to drought conditions evolving in various programs.
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and then to make infrastructure improvements and otherwise improving and continuing to maintain with those planning efforts. also receiving funding to the disaster relief bill passed last week and then to get that out to the local and tribal communities as soon as possible. we have worked to develop coordinated operational plans and those to help us respond to the drought conditions as well. the colorado river basin me by implementing the provisions of prior agreements and in particular the 2007 interim guidelines and the jury on —-
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contingency plan unfortunately in the position of announcing the first shortage in the first year of the colorado river basin in august and it will take efforts and then we have to develop the next level of agreements in that basin. and it can be a model for the collaboration that we need inn other areas as well and it is essential to maintain a collaboration for the collective success. and as our partners are here to work together among the federal family and nonfederal partners and with members t of congress to address these issues. and then to use science to improve our water supply projections in that house to
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inform our decision-making process and work collaboratively with partners. we support the continued investment in improvements to help maintain our infrastructure projects including desalination efforts and of course continued collaboration tonu best ensure our communities can utilize the federal resources we have available we appreciate congress attention to the severity of theer drought conditions and welcome your input to the approach that we can use to help our communities i look forward to ourhe work together and with our partners to address the ongoing challenges i'm happy to answer any follow-up
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questions. >> . >> thank you members of the subcommittee i'm director of the arizona department of water resources. thank you for providing me an opportunity to testify on behalf of the state of arizona i have submitted testimony for the record my comments today will highlight key elements of that testimony the 20 year drought and climate change have had devastating affects on —- effects of the flow of the colorado river and declared shortage in 2022 will result in arizona losing 512,000 agency of water or 18 percent of the totalts colorado entitlements with the
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tribes them in a civil war years as a result and the intent eight month effort resulted in arizona coming together to provide financial resources and then to mitigate those impacts and in 2023 projections of legally elevations are barely above the trigger for an additional 80000 acres of cuts to arizona those are primarily impacting tribes and mina municipal water users in my state. however it is unlikely that mitigation resources will be available to address the additional cuts while the 2007 and guidelines has slowed the decline of me those are clearly not enough the likelihood of deeper cuts in the future is high. the amount of water in lake powell is decreasing and the probability of the lake reaching critical elevation is increasing this includes potential reduction of hydropower and increase cost
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to try that irrigation districts and others in arizona in august projections for 2023 triggered a precision in the lower basin arizona and nevada and california have been meeting pursuant to the consultation provision that targets protectingt lake mead from falling below elevation and that will be a daunting challenge. additional actions fall into two categories. first, mandatory cuts or additionaler conservation and working toward achieving conservation instead of greater mandatory cuts. but that is a heavy lift. success is dependent upon voluntary efforts among tribal within the state to compile the resources to make it happen as we move forward the 2007 operating guidelines has taught us how to be successful in the consultation process to
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manage the river long-term. those learned include to be vigilant to monitor the protected reservoir elevation entities so we must have data produced by the bureau of reclamation to possess the best available science. number to achieve outcomes that are in the equitable share of the benefits and risk to the colorado river system and three come in here to the collaboration among the states mexico the united states and other stakeholders in the basin. number four, recognize we are connected from wyoming to the sea of cortez in mexico. five, incentivize actions that conserve water in lake need. resources to the united states any agencies must be tools in the toolbox and number seven continued space participation informal discussions regarding the implementation of the 1944 mexico water treaty wiley
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focus on enhancing sustainability of the colorado river system we should not lose sight of other mechanisms to minimize or mitigate the impacts of climate change and drought maximizing the use of recycled water, improving and expanding existing infrastructure to increase reservoir healed and to move water augmenting water supplies through desalination and improve watershed health through a more effective forest management are all tools that need to be deployed. in conclusion drought and climate change are presenting challenges that are likely to increasee. over time proper planning and management and robust congress on —- conservationon across political jurisdictions and among the stakeholders create the greatest likelihood for resuccess today and into the future. thankn you and we are willing
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to answer questionss as well. >> thank you. we will now go to miss pitt for her opening testimony. >> chairman kelly and ranking member highsmith the members of the subcommittee, thank you for holding this important hearing and really is an honor to testify before you today. i am the colorado river program director for the nationalre audubon society climate change has come barging through the front doors of the colorado river basin the colorado river has lost 20 percent of the flow in the past 20 years and scientist are forecasting another 9 percent loss we need
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to act quickly to avoid a catastrophic water supply and also long-term solutions because of temperatures continuing to increase with the colorado river supply will keep shrinking. there is so much at stake the colorado river drinking water for 49 million it is the lifeblood and the silent underpinning the 1 trillion-dollar economy pretty much anywhere in this country your letters is grown here and including recreation businesses it is the lifeblood habitat that support fish and other wildlife people value the colorado river in so many ways not at least when it
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rameans to us culturally and spiritually to stand on the rivers edge and you really are reminded when it means to be grateful and passing the infrastructure and jobs act you set the stage for important investment to address the impact of drought and climate change but more is needed i will discuss in my written testimony. emergency drought relief funding is needed to respond affecting tens of millions of americans federal investment that is needed for data to understand the unprecedented changes reclamation of additional funding operating under 323 with the treaty with mexico and then have
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downstream habitat. investments can help mitigate with the receding shoreline and others across the west and also we need to support the colorado river basin but the households that lack to suffer greatly from covid-19 and also from tribal water settlements to allow them t to benefit from their water rights and to reduce the uncertainty what that imposes on all colorado river users. finally and went too address colorado river management reclamation plays able as the guardian of the process that needs to be transparent and inclusive carrying out the federal trust and responsibility and federal leadership must continue
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emphasizing commitment and collaboration promote of the creative thinking. this is a sobering and a scary time for everyone and everything that depends on the colorado river congress considers funding opportunities and increasing federal investment and leadership for the colorado river basin and across the west to ensure to receive credit the resources to have a more resilient system and mitigate the effects of climate change. congress has several pending bills of bipartisan support responding to the needs of tribal communities and water supply needs and is imperative the community has the resources they need to t prepare for and respond to the climate crisis that touched every
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little thing. thank you so much for the opportunity to testify today and i'm happy to answer questions. >> i now recognize senator hogan to introduce the next witness. >> we appreciate you holdinghi this hearing today and also thank you for joining us virtually the executive vice president of the north dakota stockman association in addition to doing and incredible judge on —- an incredible job she and her husband have a cattle ranch south of bismarck i think it is registered angus but i never asked for sure. she comes to the job as far as the stockman as somebody who grew up farming and ranching so she truly understands from the ground up to makes it the livelihood she has an advocate
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for chase for the cowboys she has limited her whole life working on farm bills and disaster assistance we secured $10 billion for farmers and ranchers specifically 750 million for our ranchers nationwide but now we have to work with usda to put that out there through the plus program and on the rancher side we have to figure out the parameters. i look forward to working with her onh that issue because we had incredible drought in the state one of the toughest i can remember so it is extremely important for those farmers and ranchers in particular that try to keep the herd and not shorten it more than they have to for the young ranchers this is important it's about making sure we have water available
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throughout the west for our farmers and ranchers so they can do it they do better than anyone else to provide the highest quality lowest cost to supply that every single american benefits from every single day. with that i would sure like to again think the chairman and ranking member for holding this hearing and appreciate the opportunity to introduce and welcome julie and her testimony today. thank you. >> thank you senator and good afternoon members of the subcommittee as theco senator said i'm fourth-generation beef producer my husband and i and our five children are in southern horton county and we we raised i angus cattle and i am happy to pass on the
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stewardship to the next generation it is coupled with science and emerging technology to match our management for the needs of the cattle and the landscape for resiliency. also the executive vice president of the stockman association a trade organization representing 3100 ranchers in addition to membership activity as well as the epa section 319 grant and with those health circumstances as well as the local economies and this year has been described with challenges and certainly historic drought has been on top of the list for our neighbors in the last the yellows and oranges on the map tell the story well the entire west is designated some level of disaster in north dakota is
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no exception currently 99.8 percent of our state has some drug designation and we have set records we never wanted any earliest onset in the highest right severity in history water is essential and without everything changes to be increasingly available and and sometimes if there is no water for the livestock to drink even the wealth cannot be tapped and used and ellington ranch this summer as over to combat the drought the food back home the crew installed 5 miles of pipeline to implement 13 new water tanks and renovated and abandoned well to help respond to water demand of her heard. changes to grazing have gone
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to public land and in north dakota the force service and bureau of land management i 1 know that doesn't seem like a lot too many on that committee as you have larger acreages that's important to the cattle industry but also the ecology whether on private land or public land the ranchers have had to make decisions in order to reduce numbers to prevent overgrazing so the stockman's association administer the brand inspection program to have a chance to see these play out in real time many because the forage is not there 24 percent increase the sales of markets this year but north dakota ranchers selling 140,000 cows as of july the
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average for the entire year is 200,000 it is a painstaking decision because not only the foundation of the herd represent generations of improvement that cannot be replicated overnight it also causes other threats fire is the most widespread and destructive ass of monday and has been nearly 6 million acres and about 125,000 across north dakota nearly double that last year. together fire and droughtnd impact livestock and ability to steward the land ranchers need to those that also critical to feed wildlife and provide habitat and carbon at a vast scale it increases the potential to store carbon to
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make these ecosystems more resilient to all threats including drought with this committee the congress and administration looks to make it more resilient andnd increase confirmation using grazing to manage grassland. producers are grateful to respond to emergency conditions and then to the senator to provide the assistance program to offset the cost of transportation as we move forward hoping and praying for rain i encourage that committee and the administration to think about how we can print prevent the response to a drought and how do we make landscape more resilient to drought as a rancher i know carefully managed are more resilient
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healthy ecosystems must be created and nurtured and maintained and it takes coordination with all parties. uhealthy landscapes take investment from each of us and ranchers are already doing their part. thank you for the opportunity to testify and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you to all of the witnesses for their testimony. we will now open the hearing to members who are recognized five minutes each i will start with a few questions and then be followed by ranking member hyde smith the first question is as a follow-up that focusing on infrastructure because congress needs to think bigger man programs that
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find short term drought relief , we need to upgrade assets and to adapt to climate change over the long-term. more can be done to improve the water efficiency of the dams and irrigation canals in the last. these systems are often over 50 years old and a leak a lot of water. the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the senate in august has eight.$3 billion to repair our aging western water infrastructure and deploy water recycling in desalinization and invest in watershed health and enhance surface and groundwater storage. i am proud to be part of a core group of senators, democrats and republicans who secured this funding. so how will interior use the infrastructure funding to improve the situation at lake
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mead and lake powell? >> thank you senator again your leadership is appreciated i'm happy to testify in support of that legislation here in the committee we will utilize the authority and the funding received to build upon the good collaborative success in the colorado river basin i want to reiterate we have a crisis. it is a very serious situation and wese are working to innovate and utilize the authorities we get from congress and the funding that we get to help build upon the programs we have additional conservation in the lower basin that will be available for us with respect to those reservoir levels in the upper basin will work closely with the partners there as wells we appreciate
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the opportunity to build on the success in working with us that moves forward. >> gave an example of an infrastructure project to improve the situation in leak made and make powerball? >> absolutely one is connected with our bipartisan process and development of additional capabilities the 242 in arizona will help to make it amore efficient and allow us to retain more surface water storage available that is a good example of that capability. >> by capturing water and other places we can keep more. >> absolutely. the expanded authorities in the recycling category will do the same thing.
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>> the same question how well this funding how this will help arizona and west? >> yes. in the area that is referred to talking about lettuce in the wintertime there is infrastructure improvements to make sure overhe deliveries in the lower part do not know current will not go to waste if those improvements are made and also looking at paying and conservation with willing partners and that funding that can be available it will result in more water in lake mead to leverage many the state has made available to me for that purpose with interstate we are working with the southern nevada water authority t for a potential
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recycling project in southern california to allow the recycled water to be used in southern california instead of discharged into the ocean and the way the other partners could share in some of the benefits so those are just a couple of the examples. infrastructure funding is critical we are looking at desalination and ocean desalination in the sea of cortez m so there is no end of the list of potential projects that could benefit just the lower basin with lake mead. >> we will now recognize the senator for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman i don't want to go ahead of the ranking member. >> i'm sorry. >> i defer. >> let's do that.
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>> my first question will be for ms. ellingson what impact do you see from the drought on the rural communities and how it has impacted them compared to years past? >> thank you ranking member significant impacts with the historic drought it had to face some tough decisions like calling their heard or liquidating the herd or sending animals to be fed or sourcing expensive feed which is hard tond come by and expensive to haul and also the agricultural foundation of the state's economy so not only
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does that impact the livestock industry but also the overall state of economy so that is impacting as we work through those commissions at hand. >> in terms of mitigating the drought related stress to what programs and contracts that are offered through usda national resources conservation do you and people in your position do you rely on the most quick. >> there's a whole array of programs the first that comes to mind is the national resourceat conservation program there is opportunities for cost share with their water development and that is important similarly those that help to support those efforts
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on those think tanks on the ground with long-term mitigation of droughts and other challenges. >> what potential consequences does the industry face if that wasre delayed or backlogged or shrunk down greatly quick. >> it is significant itat is an opportunity to do with the long-term sustainability of the operations but that sustainability of livestock grazing has implications for the wildlife in the storage of carbon and other areas so we encourage the support of them. >> thank you m mr. chairman. >> thank you senator. >> thank you mr. chairman. you talked about the impacts of the drought this year. talked about the impact if this is a multiyear dropped.
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>> we hope and pray that is not the case that we are prepared for that we have had a significant drought last year as others in the committee but therere were pockets w within our stay as well that producers are relying on with a has to get a head start however as we learned through those resources as the neighbors across the last that tends to more long serious to get back to normal so it is very much top of mind indicating the decision that producers are faced with right now to downsize the herd and like livestock feed.
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>> and as we work to get the younger ranchers into business this is a particular challenge for them to keep them going. >> absolutely is nothing they went more than two pass operation more so those daily decision whether natural resources in our care were to usher in the next generation that carries on that tradition is so vitally important so concerned about those young producers to do good things that is top of mind for us as well talking about other places in theth west and the important role those allotments play are there steps the administration will take to provide more flexibility to ranchers for additional sources of forage?
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>> yes. that would be helpful and as i indicated those public lands are significant to the livestock industry so continued communication and coordination and that is critical with the importance is just likevi their own private land is significant to their own operation whether an open dialogue as a critical component with the landscape as well as addressing issues like overstocking that is all important to the sustainability to deal with the drought at hand. >> the ranking member asked the question i was going to ask if the programs could be helpful like the livestock assistance program which we
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now have to help with the transportation costs the water as well as feedback pairing that up that is something we have to have on a long-term basis not just on a one-year deal for the drought. >> absolutely. what was added to the emergency lives lifetime assistance program is significant it's meaningful to every livestock producer this year's we are appreciative of the additional support along with other support programs and the fda emergency of umbrella for our producers to keep them maintained in a permanent status to help the livestock producers plan to make the best decisions under serious conditions. >> secretary, in north
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dakota, as far as moving water east from the missouri river we have the red river valley supply project and the alternate supply standing for eastern north dakota alternate water supply project andve danger area with the on —- january the burr bureau of the environmental impact statement signed their decision so with the extreme drought, will you support the reclamation's work to bring the supply project in particular the water supply online and work with us to do that quick. >> absolutely. yes that is an important project and we support that moving forward as quickly as possible it is a great example between surface water andnd groundwater and the need for
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backup supply and then to be innovative. that is what we need to do right now. >> fantastic please come out we will give you the tour and we would love to host you. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> i want to back up and talk about the infrastructure bill of the eight.$3 billion to age infrastructure so what does the funding do to help the ecosystem health? >> thank you for that question. there is all kinds of infrastructure to rely on in particular the higher elevation the colorado river basin we have seen some impressive examples of infrastructure investment that for instance to put some
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structures in a creek on the property and that puts water on they property longer to extend the water supply and the groundwater recharge and generally improving the ecosystem health. there are other examples that i write about and in southwestern wyoming where funding ways used to convert a ranch to the sprinklers so then again creating additional resilience for the researchers
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that they could extend the water supply longer and then they are also improving health so that is a lot of win-win with the ranchers taking care of the infrastructure. and the services we need to scale up right now to improve the health of the's watersheds all the way down the river. >> thank you if you're ready have a turn it over to you. >> thank you to all the witnesses today. droughts are a serious issue in my home state i have been
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the back condition has been the backbone of the rural economies so in this sheridan press where the usda farm servicey agency in johnson county was quoted to say this two weeks ago to say this year has been extremely dry producers have a lack of feed and stock water shortage of pay and had to buy extra hay and goes on to say they have had to haul and asked her feed for out of the county and out-of-state to sell down their cattle and last year it was driver compounded this year it neverer let up has caused hardship for producers is what you see in here in the
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ground and north dakota as well? >> yes.or absolutely the impact you describe for border to border and many others across the country and as we indicated we don't have that serious drought statewide like you did last year and then to what you are experiencing in wyoming and then to have the opportunity with the grounds and with 58 trips so traveling around the world the
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circumference of the earth so would you leave the department can do to prioritize more water for the ranching and farming communities out west in the short-term and long-term? and with the reclamation program lots of opportunities to expand water supply and working collaboratively with farmers and all of the western states with respect to the department of agriculture programs we understand they have additional capabilities and they will be working to supply those and use those innovative lead to meet
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constituents needs. >> the family farm alliance has submit written testimony forco the record and asking them is consent as part of the record. properly designed and constructed with the water management flexibility to better meet downstream urban industrial needs for flood control and generate clean hydropower and to benefit downstream wildlife fission species do you agree with that statement? >> i do and i was able to see that testimony earlier today and i really appreciate the partnership.
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and then to maximize the flexibilities in different contact. >> in cattle ranching is vital to the real economy and then how do we ensure that it doesn't have food interruptions quick. >> that is something we are looking on —- working closely with the hardships for farmers and ranchers for this year in particular and then to make sure we have tools available to meet the emergency needs to build resilience on those are the types of programs we are looking forward to the infrastructure context and other programs as well. >> are there things we could have done ten years ago to put us in a better place to manage theth drought? with that be more beneficial during the wet years?
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>> it is a place by place basis. in some places we have available storage and then with some continued challenges we know we need to continue but the aging infrastructure issue and then building additional capabilities something to work on. >> senator i think the snowpack in thebo rockies was 90 percent of normal that thehe runoff into the river was in the 25 or 30 percent which is concerning and then to face a second round of water curtailment planning for this to happen 2026 but new data suggest we need to prepare for this much sooner than we
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participated. so what are the seven states to prepare for this? >> senator kelly the outcome you described in terms of what that slow runoff isce a huge concern moving forward. and then those o meeting schedule between now and the end of the year. and then we see reductions of flow the last 20 and 30 years and we need to come to some level of understanding and then those actions of the water use but we think it will be. with a lower basin for the drought contingency plan we have been meeting to find ways to protect elevation in lake
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mead with the original conservation efforts and perhaps if it comes to that to help protect the declining levels of lake mead. we will continue to work on that between now and to the end of the year to put a program in place to get as far as we can the longer we wait to take those actions for lake powell and lakee mead the more we have to cut to the same result into the future. >> so how do we end up with 90 percent of snowpack and only 25 or 30 percent of the normal amount of water into the river? >> that is a perfect example of what climate change is doing it is hotter and drier
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and does so sublimated is not runoff into the river but soaks into the ground the prior-year the summer precipitation in arizona we call it the monsoon we had very little precipitation so the watershed was very dry and a lot of the water soaked into the ground. we've also seen the snowmelt early on —- voting earlier and vegetation growing sooner which then uses more of the water as well those are the elements to connect to that outcome that you described. we saw them prior years as well. >> are you confident of interstate agreement will be reached with the reclamation participating in this? >> as we mentioned earlier we have a proven track record i
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am confident we will continue and reclamation is in the middle. iom want to complement the work of my colleague and those that are trying to be out in front of those conditions we may see. >> how confident are you another drought contingency agreement will be reached? >> failure is not an option we face this in 2019 and had hard choices to make that we got there. we will get there again they do not want an outcome that the secretary might dictate winners and losers and we do not want to be in a courtroom ntwith the judge dictating
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winners and losers of thoseho are several motivations but we will get there eventually all of it will not be easy and i also want to complement the secretary the health reclamation has provided in that regard it is essential and as i mentioned earlier the data and the modeling project and those outcomes are critical to those discussions. we will get there because we don't have a choice. >> senator lee for five minutes. >> the impact of the drought on my home state of utah has been it shows that 100 percent of my state is in severe or exceptional drought and has been for some time. we all know drought has different impacts on different areas and along the highly
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developed region of my state that means you take steps to conserve water and we appreciate those efforts and are thankful to people to do their part andct for other people like farmers and ranchers the impact of drought can be much more direct and severe many grazing allotments have been cut 25 percent and capacity and the forage is not there for the cattle and sheep to graze on. in fact in some utah counties production is down 20 percent. some producers are ordering feed from faraway places as far away as nebraska normally does not something they have to do rivers that provide water are down to a trickle
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forcing us to ration and trust the summer months producers were forced anywhere between 101,500 head per week that's 121,500 animals per week killed and wasted just as a result of the drought the state made a change so they can more readily address those issues they face like what utah faces in particular everywhere i go in my state i hear the need for increased water storage infrastructure. unfortunately period credit a federal process stands in the way of the safe and effective responsible drought mitigation efforts. tell me how many water storage infrastructure projects are currently undergoing evaluation by your department.
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>> i don't know offhand but i wanted to acknowledge i had the pleasure of working very closely with the office and the construction office and the storage elements it provides are beneficial especially during the drought issues. thank you. >> you do have access to that information about the number of water storageer infrastructure projects currently undergoing analysis? >> i can try to get that back to you as soon as possible through reclamation. >> within the next week would be helpful. >> roughly tell me the average amount of time required to complete the eis for water infrastructure projects? >> cannot know that off the top of my head. i know there are several storage projects in california for example and other areas that are important to maintain
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that. >> i appreciate your willingness to get me the information the committee markup of the energy infrastructure act back in july, introduced an amendment modeled off of an existing program that has been facilitated by the department of transportation called the surface transportation delivery program. it is for which all states are eligible that allows the secretary of transportation to assign and for the state to voluntarily assume the secretary's us on —- responsibilities one or more highway projects that they feel they can handle. those utah and arizona participate in the voluntary program in the transportation context now constituents of tolds me this is greatly expedited the rate they can
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start work on transportation infrastructure projects that the state chooses to a prioritize they appreciate to take up with these projects on a case-by-case basis. such a program do you think it could be helpful to develop water infrastructure projects in your state and curb the effects of the west and a devastating drought? >> i'm not too familiar with that program in arizona but i know that department of transportation is using that program and often with categorical exclusion it works well. i do know that in my experience with these projects working for a reduction in time and transaction cost but also robust process so there is a balance working on the
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infrastructure side and outcome in which we can get to a place we still have the robust process and get to a point where the infrastructure projects can be facilitated while still protecting all the elements that need to be looked at and that process. >> my time is expired i will just reiterate that categorical exclusions we have seen in arizona on this appears to have gone well to preserve the environmental interest in a way that helps things move forward thank you very much. >> i will now recognize senator heitzman. >> one —- hide smit. >> during the confirmation hearing earlier this year your asked for your views on how to
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one —- you committed to work with stakeholders to find the balance economically farmers ranchers and rural communities are extremely important not just for my state that the entire nation so what is done at the federal level to ensure maintenance backlogs are being addressed? >> thank you senator. a lot of the discussion today touches on the importance to maintain programs at the farming and ranching communities around the last. also talking about the need for improved infrastructure and the need for continued innovation for water recycling programs that are maintenance and operation issues are a priority that does tie
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carefully with respect to our safety programs and that may be what you are referring to but you are trying to make sure to provide efficient and reliable water supplies to the communities that benefit from our programs. >> i would like to discuss that initiative with the bureau of reclamation are familiar with in this federal program works with the states and tribes and entities to prioritize the existing infrastructure to help resolve rural communities and as of september 2nd of this year, reclamation has selected 227 projects to be funded was 70.2 million dollars of water smart funding across the western states given the large
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investment for storage infrastructure to combat widespread drought what you doing to prioritize the program to ensure the rural communities have vital access to more? period thank you senator for acknowledging the water smart program is a very effective and popular program within the reclamation portfolio congress authorizes some of the elements of that program over ten years ago and it has been something we continue to build upon with the annual budgeting process and continuing to think through how to best evaluate it is something we will continue to do so in that regard. it is a good program we appreciate congressional support. >> great. thank you. >> just to follow up on the
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senators question can you provide examples of how these grants could be used for climate resilience in the colorado river basin? >> thank you. community resilience and climate change with nature -based solution or with water smart investment to help farmers and ranchers make improvements on their property in particular, that can help them extend their water supply as well as improve the health of their property and one example would be from earlierrt with respect to sprinkler irrigation
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systems and that is an example of how at scale it really helps us. >> i want to have it that i look at nearly every single week to see if the levels of water in lake mead especially but also lake powell. so i want to talk about these latest predictions for the two reservoirs of medium power the bureau of reclamation issued a two-year projection water levels at the hoover dam would remain below 2000 feet and that is the wider contingency plan for arizona and nevada. lake powell would also lose water but remain above the minimum power pool level and that is the elevation level
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where the grand canyon dm led have to pause the hydropower operations. but in september reclamation issued a new five-year projection that painted a bleaker picture lake powell could approach deadpool by 2022 and make me probability of entering tier two cutbacks by 2023 increase can you walk us to the five-year projection? >> part of that is the continued desire for us to
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evolve and utilize the best available science to communicate effectively with people who are watching this information and i reclamation folks produce on a monthly basis and 24 month study analysis and on a regular basis of five-year projection we have been doing that for several years but we are continuing to improve upon the capabilities and those reports and the most recent is clarification of the time frame using to feed into them instead of using 100 year record we have focused more specifically on a 30 year record because that accurately projects what we anticipate we will be seeing in the future. we have done that previously that focusing on it in the most recent projection and additional change is an
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assumption with upper basin additional release into lake powell and we are not continuing that assumption because we're not sure but the projected response would be we want to be safe and conservative about what we're doing there and how we change from a a month-to-month basis but working collaboratively with those folks in the basin on how to do that. >> the switch from the 100 data set to the 30 year, was it becausee historically eyes you try to do the projection the 30 year data set was turning out to be more accurate for future predictions? >> absolutely in the 100 year projections that included some
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of the very wet years we are not anticipating to see going forward so that made the results skewed in that regard and we have been doing both analysis for some time but now focusing on the shorter-term range and i think is more accurate going forward. >> i will come back to this in five minutes i went to recognize the senator again for five. so let me transition back. what are your views on the reclamation data and how does that affect state planning? >> i welcome the more conservative approach from reclamation because for at least six years that i am aware of we looked at removing
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the historical record prior to 1931 and that matches closely with the 30 year record but now the reclamation is using in the contingency plan we look at the same 30 year period to bend that probability curve for lake powell and lake mead it's not something that is brand-new but this is a more conservative approach and is incumbent upon us as water managers to use that more conservative approach to plan for the dry years instead of the wet years also in his raise the bar again for the action items and with that more conservative approach i will do a happy dance but we
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will plan for the dryer future and then will come up with a way to deal with the future. >> let's hope we get to see the dance. i want to c commend you and all arizona state stakeholders for having a state specific drought mitigation plan to see us through the initial drought curtailment in our state. even though we are about to lose 18 percent of our colorado river water allocation, remarkably most arizonans will not notice. it will be transparent to them. but one very important community that will feel the pain of this, is the farmers of central arizona. many of these farms grow cotton or cattle field on —- cattle feed for the local
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dairy farms which are top agricultural products in our state. so what can be done right now and into next year to help our central arizona farmers? >> they maintain the right that what they received in the groundwater code and the state has made $40 million available to those farmers for infrastructure and efficiency program to help them and return to eventually get a credit back. we put together a very that
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despite that the projections is that it is still 30 or 40 percent of their land i can't get an updated number since then but the other option is that they are pursuing is the department of agriculture reason noble partnership program and they have application in the irrigation districts and also financial help in the and were doing the best we can to help mitigate those but we cannot fully mitigate the losses of water that occurred to them because that's what we are honoring with interstate. >> you mentioned sound that are there, is there any sort of guarantee they will be compensated for doing that?
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>> the compensation we are providing to them is really about them being able to more effectively and efficiently move the water and use the letter so the fallowing of the land so that straight up mitigation is not really available to them that we hope they can largely stay in business to the mitigation program and moving to the future which will be very different for them they cannot farm the way they have farms historically and it is a paradigm shift. >> let's continue to work together to have the best possible outcome. so can the interior or department of agriculture do more to support these central arizona farmers?
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>> we look forward to working with you in the partners in arizona on exactly that. the programs that we have available are designed to help. >> fitness test, i understand that you also spent years in arizona working on the colorado river issues so thank you for being here today and autobahn is part of a coalition of conservation efforts to maintain endangered species along the colorado river and to maintain their habitats partnerships the state and local governments and other water users are key to make this all work. i would add tribal governments
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are important to hold substantial water rights in the west are those that are eager to do more to help and what can congress do to empower them? >> thank you for the question. and arizona on a number of locations has agreed however there are those of indian tribes and others who are limited about restrictions so congress could extend the benefits and then to engage
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with those who and then you showing that the tribes can lease water on the reservation seems only fair that we are the water users. >> and as they transfer water off of their tribal land, and release the water so they are compensated financially, what does that compelled them to do. >> first they have water on their land and then with that consensus they are able, if congress and then those that
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could be used for on —- eastford the then notwithstanding two has some of the water rates in the state of arizona. >> there is significant motivation toward conservation. >> absolutely. >> thank you. before we close and want to take an opportunity and thinking ahead and outside of the box we mentioned the salinization earlier i would like to hear from you what that would look like may be in the sea of cortez and how much water do you think that could create? just any other details but also any other large-scale
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possible solutions. again i want to reiterate we are the most creative country in the world. we are really good at solving hard problems and coming from a background in engineering ie know we can solve this arizona and the lower basin states, we have a a bright future. arizona has the largest are the fastest-growing county in the country maricopa county businesses come to arizona and they continue to come because we will fix the issue but i want to hear from you about as you think about this and to think outside the box it comes to lined? >> i think where looking forward to the themes from
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this whole hearing has involved to be flexible and that is that we have to do with the colorado river basin and then to use technology to be creative with that underlying basis in science and what we need to do with usgs and the interior department. no doubt about it we will be part of those conversations to have those resources available to our community. our partners are available and will be working with us specifically on those issues. >> i will focus on the desalination in the sea of
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cortez. i am a united states cochair for the united states delegation and then new commissioner on the mexico side and in june 2020 we can provide you with that report that first phase looking at opportunities in the sea of cortez and they are relatively cost-effective and to transfer and then to be down in the yuma area. we have several issues to work through over the years with mexico and if we decide to collectively move forward another minute into the treaty it needs and negotiated.
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we aref out in the normal course the business that it is economically feasible to get the water where it is needed but also california and nevada are participating in mexico. and the department and on —- interior to the bureau of reclamation is critical to success moving forward with mexico. >> and also senator hyde smith and today's witnesses for participating in today's hearing thank you for being here. before we conclude i want to
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request unanimous consent to add statements to thehe record agriculture water coalition and the colorado river energy distributors association, arizona farm bureau and the family farm alliance. so ordered the subcommittee has a 48 hour deadline to submit written questions so you may see some more questions. the hearing record will remain open to the subcommittee stands adjourned. [inaudible conversations]
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