Skip to main content

tv   Environmental Experts Testify on Western Drought  CSPAN  December 1, 2021 1:09pm-2:42pm EST

1:09 pm
including midco. >> midco supports c-span as a public service, along with these other television providers. giving you a front-row seat to democracy. >> arizona senator mark kelly says western states are experiencing the worst drought in more than 1,000 years. he along with members of the senate energy and natural resources subcommittee heard from environmental experts on the effect the drought is having on the u.s.
1:10 pm
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 some degree of moderate to severe drought. water has always been a limited resource in the west.
1:11 pm
we have got this old saying in arizona that whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting. by the turn of the 19th century, as westward expansion took hold, a complex framework of case law and interstate water compacts allocated and in some cases overallocated surface water supplies. congress later established the bureau of reclamation to reclaim and maximize surface water in the west. today, however, abnormally dry conditions are reducing the availability of water for farms, for industry, and for our cities and towns. native fish and wildlife have never been so imperiled, and drought is making our forests more susceptible to wildfire. behind me, we have a graphic produced by the u.s. drought
1:12 pm
monitor program updated weekly, it shows the general reach of a regional drought that has persisted for the last 20 years. you can see how bad it is in the west. you know, some climate scientists call this a mega drought. tree ring and soil data indicates that we are experiencing the worst drought in 1200 -- 1200 years. having surpassed the last longest drought, which occurred in the late 1500s. scientific assessments show that these drought conditions are made worse by the effects of climate change, rising temperatures, and reduced snow melt. this issue is a priority for me because arizona is on the front lines of this mega drought. in august, the department of the interior announced its first ever drought restrictions on the colorado river. it affects 40 million americans in seven states.
1:13 pm
arizona, california, nevada, colorado, utah, new mexico, and wyoming. but arizona gets hit the hardest. we stand to lose 18% of our annual colorado river water allocation beginning next year. that's in a few months. now, fortunately, arizona is prepared for these initial cutbacks. we are implementing mitigation measures that keep more water in the colorado river system and improve water efficiency in our farming. we plan to save enough water so that most arizonians will not be impacted. but we're not out of the woods here. last month, the interior department produced a new forecast showing that water levels in lake mead could soon decline lower and lower enough
1:14 pm
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 depression. currently, lake mead's capacity is 35%. it's the lowest level since the lake was first filled. its sister reservoir, lake powell, is the second largest manmade lake in the united states, and it's not at 35% capacity, but it's at 30% capacity. lake mead and lake powell are the poster children for western drought. a pale bathtub ring incircles both lakes.
1:15 pm
you 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 at full capacity, and it's about 1,067 or so feet above sea level today. at lake powell, only two of its boat ramps can still safely unload motorized boats. and if the rockies see another year or two of record low snow melt, where the headwaters of the colorado river are located, arizona, california, and nevada will be facing tougher drought restrictions, possibly beginning in 2023. and then there's hydropower. a source of carbon-free energy that is vital to grid
1:16 pm
reliability and resiliency in the west. reclamation predicts there is a chance next year that water levels in lake powell might dip low enough that power generation at glen canyon dam could be affected. and in some cases, affected significantly. many other watersheds across the west are facing similar water scarcity and susceptibility -- sustainability challenges. these challenges may sound serious because they are serious. but here's the thing. there is no country in the world, no country in the world that is better at solving big problems when we put our minds to it. we can solve this. today, and that's why we're here. we're going to hear from a panel of experts in government, in environmental advocacy, in agriculture, who are working on water management solutions to these very issues.
1:17 pm
and i look forward to listening to their testimony. and with that, i'll turn this over now to ranking member hyde-smith for her opening remarks. >> i'd like to thank the chair for calling this important meeting today to bring attention to this crippling issue that is plaguing the west. and thanks to our witnesses that are here for your willingness to come and serve and offer your suggestions. and i hope your testimony and answers today will leave us with a more unified understanding of how serious drought and drought-related issues are, and more importantly, potential solutions to water supply challenges and drought-prone areas. lying east of the mississippi river, my state does not have as many drought related issues as western states. in fact, we tend to run into trouble on the opposite end of that spectrum with heavy rainfall and catastrophic flooding. however, a commonality i find
1:18 pm
between severe drought and flooding is the devastating impact that it has on our farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. farmers are the lifeblood of this nation, and reclamation is integral to farmers as it provides 1 out of 5 farmers with irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland which provide 60% of the nation's vegetables and 25% of its fruits and nuts. i believe it's vital we discover responsible solutions to address western water infrastructure needs for our farmers, ranchers, and the rural communities. i look forward to discussing how to ease the harmful economic impacts of drought in a manner that allows for the completion of economic development projects that will benefit our farmers and rural communities, protect watershed help and support those rural communities that need access to water storage the most. so thank you for being here. thank you for being a part of this american process.
1:19 pm
and i sure hope to learn something from you. thank you. >> thank you, ranking member hyde-smith. now it's time to introduce our witnesses. first, we have ms. tanya trujillo, the assistant secretary for water and science at the department of the interior, who is testifying in person. and next, we have tom buschatzke, the director of the arizona department of water resources who is also testifying in person. participating virtually, we have ms. julie schaff ellingson, the executive vice president of the north dakota stockman's association, and finally, we have ms. jennifer pitt, the colorado river program director for the national audubon society, who is also participating virtually. i want to thank all of our witnesses for testifying today, especially our arizona witness, mr. buschatzke.
1:20 pm
your written remarks, all of you, will be included in the hearing record, and please keep your oral testimony to five minutes each. assistant secretary trujillo, we will begin with you. >> thank you, senator kelly. good afternoon. senator kelly, i appreciate your leadership on these issues and your service here today with this hearing. senator hyde-smith, equally thank you for chairing the subcommittee and for being part of our western water world today. appreciate your service. i am assistant secretary for water and science at the department of the interior, tanya trujillo. thank you for the opportunity to testify regarding the status and management of drought in the western u.s. along with my fellow panelists, we will present a thorough picture of how climate change
1:21 pm
and the drought are affecting our communities and our environment. i was last before the committee in june to testify in support of the bipartisan infrastructure deal, which contains many provisions that will help assist us with these efforts. the entire west has experienced severe drought conditions this year, and in some cases. we are seeing events we have never seen before. so we are having to adapt and react in real time, and to work very closely with our partners to respond to the situations as they are evolving. october 1st marked the new water year across the west. and unfortunately, we are starting out with water supply conditions in many basins that are significantly below average. for example, in the colorado river basin, lake powell and lake mead are currently at historic lows. and in california, where we have
1:22 pm
just seen the driest two years back-to-back on record. some of the reservoirs are also at their historic low levels. it will be 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 that are predicted. the department of the interior is working closely with our sister agencies and with the states, tribes, and local entities to respond to the drought. since january, we have provided funding to over 220 different projects around the west, and we were recently able to reprogram $100 million to be able to be responsive to drought conditions that are evolving in various programs. and various contexts. those contributions will include making infrastructure improvements and otherwise
1:23 pm
improving and continuing to maintain our drought contingency planning efforts. we also received additional funding through the disaster relief bill that was passed last week, and we are looking forward to working to get that funding out to the local and tribal communities as soon as possible. we have worked to develop coordinated operational plans in many areas, and those will help us to respond to the drought conditions as well. for example, in the colorado river basin, we are currently implementing the provisions of prior agreements and in particular the 2007 interim guidelines for coordinated operation of the reservoirs, and the more recent drought contingency plans. we were unfortunately in the position of announcing the first level of shortage, the first tier of shortage in the colorado
1:24 pm
river basin in august, and it will take efforts to continue to develop the next level of agreements that are going to be necessary in that basin. but we have a proven track record. the colorado river basin can be a model for the type of collaboration that we need in other areas as well. and it will be essential to maintain that collaboration for our collective successes. it's great to be here today with colleagues from arizona and colorado and north dakota, as we work together among the federal family and our nonfederal partners and with members of congress to address these issues. across the west, interior has continued to utilize the best available science to improve our water supply projections, and those can help us inform our decision making process and work again collaboratively with our partners. we support the continued
1:25 pm
investments and improvements to help maintain our important infrastructure projects. we support investments in new technologies such as water recycling and desalination efforts and of course, continued collaboration on how to best insure that our communities can utilize the federal resources that we have available. we appreciate congress' attention to the severity of the drought conditions we are seeing in the west and welcome your input as to the new tools and approaches that we can use to help our communities. i look forward to our continued work together. and again, with our partners, we will be able to address the ongoing challenges. i would be happy to answer any follow-up questions. thank you again for your attention on this important issue. >> thank you, ms. trujillo, and mr. buschatzke, please proceed
1:26 pm
with your testimony. >> thank you, senator kelly, and good afternoon, chairman kelly, ranking member hyde-smith, and members of the subcommittee. i am tom buschatzke, 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 written testimony for the record and my comments today will highlight key elements of that testimony. a 20-year drought and climate change have had devastating impacts on the flow of the colorado river and on the contents of lakes mead and powell. a declared shortage in 2022 will result in arizona losing 512,000 acre feet of water or 18% of its total colorado river entitlement. impacts to agriculture, tribes, and municipal water users will result. an intense eight-month effort resulted in arizonians coming together to provide financial resources and wet water to
1:27 pm
partially mitigate those impacts. in 2023, projections of lake mead elevations are barely above the trigger for an additional 80,000 acre feet of cuts through arizona. those cuts would primarily impact tribes and municipal water users in my state. however, it is unlikely that mitigation resources will be available to address those additional cuts. while the 2007 guidelines in the drought contingency plan have slowed the decline of lake mead, those prescriptions are clearly not enough. the likelihood of deeper cuts in the future is high. the amount of water in lake powell is also decreasing and the probability of the lake reaching critical elevations is increasing. risks include potential reductions of hydropower and increased costs tribes, irrigation districts, and others in arizona. in august, projections of lake mead levels for 2023 triggered a consultation provision pursuant
1:28 pm
to the drought contingency plan in the lower basin. arizona, nevada, and california have been meeting pursuant to the consultation that targets protecting lake mead from falling below elevation 1020. that will be a daunting challenge. additional actions to protect lake mead fall into two categories, first, mandatory cuts or second additional conservation. arizona is working towards achieving additional conservation instead of greater mandatory cuts. but that will be a heavy lift. success is dependent on voluntary efforts in tribal and nontribal water users within the state and compiling the resources to make it happen. as we move forward, the 2007 operating guidelines and the drought contingency plan have taught us how to be successful in the consultation process and in managing the river long term. those lessons learned include, one, be vigilant in monitoring
1:29 pm
the hydrology and projected reservoir elevations. to do so, we must have data and modeling products produced by the bureau of reclamation, who possess the best available science. two, achieve outcomes that result in an equitable sharing of the benefits and risks attendant to the colorado river system. three, adhere to an ethic of collaboration among the states, mexico, the united states, tribes, and other stakeholders in the basin. four, recognize that we are connected from wyoming to the sea of cortez in mexico. five, incentivize actions that conserve water in lake mead. six, resources for the united states and its agencies must be tools in the toolbox, and seven, continued state participation in formal discussions regarding the implementation of the 1944 mexico water treaty. while we focus on enhancing the sustainability of the colorado river system, we should not lose sight of other mechanisms to minimize or mitigate the impacts
1:30 pm
of climate change and drought. maximizing the use of reclaimed or recycled water, improving and expanding existing infrastructure to increase reservoir yield, and to move water, and augmenting water supplies through desalination enhanced aquifer recharge, and improved watershed health through the 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 increase over time. proper planning, management, robust conservation, and collaboration across political jurisdictions and amongst stakeholders create the greatest likelihood for success today and into the future. thank you, and i'd be willing to answer questions as well. >> thank you, mr. buschatzke. and we'll now go to ms. pitt for
1:31 pm
her opening testimony. and then to ms. ellingson. so ms. pitt. >> chairman kelly, ranking member hyde-smith, and members of the subcommittee, thank you for holding this important hearing on drought in the west. it really is an honor to testify before you today. my name is jennifer pitt. i'm the colorado river program director for the national odd abob society. others have said it, but i need to say it again, climate change has come barging through the front doors of the colorado river basin. the colorado river has lost 20% of its historic flows in the past 20 years, and scientists are forecasting another 9% loss with every degree of warming. we need to act quickly to avoid a catastrophic water supply crisis, and we also need long-term solutions because as
1:32 pm
temperatures continue to increase, the colorado river's water supply will keep shrinking. there's so much at stake. the colorado river provides drinking water to 40 million peoplelifeblood for 30 federally recognized tribes. it's the silent utility underpinning a trillion dollar economy. if you eat a salad in january, pretty much anywhere in this country, your lettuce was grown with it. the basin's rivers are beloved. supporting recreation businesses in rural counties. these rivers are the region's lifeblood, habitats that support birds, fish, and other wildlife. people value the colorado river in so many ways, not least for what it means to us culturally and spiritually. stand on river's edge and you really are reminded what it
1:33 pm
means to be grateful. in passing the infrastructure investment and jobs act, you have set the stage for important investments to address the impacts of drought and climate change but more is needed. i'll discuss a few and refer you to my written testimony for others. emergency drought relief funding is needed to respond to the historic drought conditions affecting tens of millions of americans. federal investment in usgs monitoring and science including opening tee isope needed so we can understand these unprecedented changes. reklemm reclamations needs additional funding. this program is conserving water in lake mead and improving downstream habitats. investments could help mitigate the environmental and public health crises caused by the receding shoreline at california
1:34 pm
salton sea and other saline lakes across the u.s., and funds are needed for those lacking indoor water service who suffer greatly from covid-19. funds are also needed for tribal water settlements to allow tribes to benefit from their water rights and to reduce the uncertainty that unsettled rights imposes on all colorado river water users. finally, i want to address colorado river management, reclamation plays important roles as a convener, guardian of a process that needs to be transparent and inclusive, carrying out the federal trust responsibility with tribes, and as a science provider. federal leadership must continue emphasizing commitment to collaboration and promoting the creative thinking that has characterized the basin. this is a sobering and scary
1:35 pm
time for everyone and everything that depends on the colorado river. as congress considers priorities and funding opportunities, audubon supports increasing federal investments and leadership for the colorado river basin and across the west to insure federal agencies receive critically needed resources to build a more resilient system and mitigate the effects of climate change. congress has several pending bills with bipartisan support that respond to the many needs of tribal communities and western states' water supply needs that we support. it is imperative our communities have the resources they need to prepare for and respond to the drought and climate crises that touch every living thing. thank you so much for the opportunity to testify today. and of course, i'm happy to answer questions. >> thank you, ms. pitt. i'll now recognize senator hovan to introduce ms. ellingson.
1:36 pm
>> thank you, chairman kelly and ranking member hyde-smith. appreciate you holding the hearing today, and i want to thank julie ellingson for joining us virtually. she's the executive vice president of the north dakota stockman's association, and in addition to doing an incredible job administering stockman's association, she and her husband have a cattle ranch south of bismarck as well. i think they raise registered angus, but i never asked for sure, but i'm guessing that's right. so she comes to the job as far as the stockmans, as somebody who grew up farming and ranching, so she truly understands it from the ground up and has made it her livelihood. she lives it, she doesn't just advocate for our cowboys. she has lived it her whole life. i worked with her on farm bills and worked with her on disaster assistance for our producers, most recently we secured $10
1:37 pm
billion for farmers and ranchers, specifically $750 million of that for our ranchers. and that's nationwide. but now we have to work with usda to put that out there through the program on the farm side and on the ranchers side, we really have to figure out the parameters and so i certainly look forward to working with her on that issue. because we have just had incredible drought in our state. one of the toughest droughts i can ever remember. we had drought throughout the west, and so this hearing on water is extremely important for all of those farmers and ranchers. and particularly the ranchers that are out there trying to keep their herd and not shorten that herd more than they have to, particularly for our young ranchers. so today's hearing is important because it's about making sure that we have water available throughout the west for our farmers and for our ranchers. so they can do what they do better than anyone else in the world, and that is provide the
1:38 pm
highest quality, lowest cost food supply that every single american benefits from every single day. and so with that, i would sure like to again thank the chairman and ranking member for holding this hearing and appreciate this opportunity to introduce and welcome julie ellingson and her testimony today. thank you. >> thank you, senator hoeven, and good afternoon, chairman kelly, ranking member hyde-smith, and members of the subcommittee. i'm a fourth generation beef producer from north dakota. my husband and i and our five children raise registered and commercial angus cattle in morton county. our family has a long history in agriculture and i feel very blessed to pass on the tradition of stewardship of the land and the live hp stock to the next generation. tradition is coupled with the use of the latest science and emerging technologies so we can match our management with the needs of our cattle and the
1:39 pm
landscape for mutual benefits and optimal resiliency. i'm also the executive vice president of the north dakota stockman's association, a 92-year-old trade organization representing more than 3100 ranchers. in addition to our membership activities, we also administer our state's brand programs, as well as epa section 319 grant which gives us a unique perspective on how circumstances including drought impacts natural resources as well as the local economies of rural america. this year, as has been described, has been filled with challenges. and certainly historic drought has been on top of the list for north dakotaens and our neighbors in the west. the yellows, oranges, reds, and browns of the drought monitor map tell the story well. nearly the entire west designated in some level of disaster. and north dakota is no exception. currently, 99.8% of our state has some drought designation, and we have set records we never
1:40 pm
wanted. among those, the earliest onset of d-4 conditions and the highest drought severity and coverage index in our history. water, of course, is central to our management, and without it, everything changes. pastures go dry, decreasing availableforage available to graze or to be bailed and fed later, and some are rendered entirely unusable because if there's no water for the livestock to drink, even the forage there can't be used. that was a task at the ranch this summer as we worked to combat the drought. our crew back home installed five new miles of pipeline, implemented 13 new water tanks, as well as renovated an abandoned well to help respond to the water demands of our herd. changes to grazing has extended to public lands as well. in north dakota, livestock producers work with the forest service and bureau of land
1:41 pm
management to manage about 1.7 million acres. i know that doesn't sound like a lot to many of you on the committee, but those acres are significant, not only to our state's cattle industry, but our state's ecology. whether or private land or public land, grazing allotments, north dakota ranchers have had to make hard decisions in order to reduce numbers to prevent overgrazing and encourage regrowth of needed grasses. because the stockman's association administers the brand inspection programs i had a chance to see these decisions play out in real time. many have reduced their herd sizes because the forage simply isn't there. we have seen a 24% increase in sales at auction markets this year, with north dakota ranchers selling 148,000 cows as of july. the average for an entire year is 200,000. it's apain-staking fam decision
1:42 pm
for those families because they represent generations of selection and improvement that cannot be replicated overnight. of course, drought causes other threats, too. fire perhaps the most widespread and destructive. as of monday, fires have burned nearly 6 million acres across the nation, and about 125,000 across north dakota. nearly double that of last year. together, fire and drought impact our livestock and our ability to steward the land. ranchers and the livestock grazing we manage prioritize retention of native grasses that are great forage for our livestock and also critical in feeding wildlife, providing habitat, and storing carbon at a vast scale. grazing increases grassland's potential to store carbon in complex root systems making these ecosystems more resilient to all threats, including drought. as this committee, this congress, and this
1:43 pm
administration looks to ways to make landscapes more conservati using grazing to manage grasslands and optimize their potential will be key. cattle producers are grateful for this assistance we have received to respond to emergency conditions. and a special thanks goes out to senator hoeven for your work to provide additional allowances in the emergency livestock assistance program to offset the cost of transportation of feed. as we move forward, hoping, praying for rain, i encourage this committee and the administration to think about how we can prevent the need to examine response to a drought. that is how do we make landscapes more resilient to drought. as a rancher, i know that landscapes carefully managed through livestock grazing are more resilient. healthy ecosystems must be created, nurtured, and maintained and it takes coordination with all parties. healthy landscapes are taking
1:44 pm
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, ms. ellingson, and thank you again to all of our witnesses for their testimony. we're now going to open up the hearing to questions from members. members will be recognized for five minutes each. i'm going to start with a few questions, and then be followed by ranking member hyde-smith. so starting with -- well, this first question is for primarily for ms. trujillo. i'll have a follow-up for mr. abuschatzke and ms. pitt. i want to focus on infrastructure because congress needs to think bigger than programs that fund short-term drought relief. we need to upgrade assets. and deploy technology to adapt to climate change over the long
1:45 pm
term. and more can be done to improve the water efficiency of our dams and irrigation canals in the west. these systems are often over 50 years old, and they leak a lot of water. the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the senate in august provides $8.3 billion to repair our aging western water infrastructure, deploy water recycling and desalinization technology, invest in watershed health, and enhance surface and ground water storage. and i'm proud to be part of the core group of senators, democrats and republicans, who secured this funding. so ms. trujillo, how will interior use this infrastructure funding to improve the situation at lake mead and lake powell? >> thank you, senator. again, your leadership is very much appreciated on these issues, and i was happy to
1:46 pm
testify in support of that legislation here in the committee. we will utilize the authorities and the funding that will be received to continue to build upon the good collaborative success that we have had in the colorado river basin. i want to reiterate what my colleagues have said earlier is we have a crisis. it is very serious situation. and we are working together to innovate and utilize the authorities that we get from congress and the funding we get to help build upon those programs. we have additional conservation programs in the lower basin that are going to be available for us to help with respect to those reservoir levels. and in the upper basin, we'll continue to work closely with the partners there as well. so appreciate the opportunity to build upon the success and look forward to working with you as that moves forward. >> can you give us specific example of an infrastructure
1:47 pm
project that could improve the situation in lake mead and lake powell? >> absolutely. one of them is connected with our bipartisan process -- excuse me, the binational process and development of additional capabilities at the minute 323 and the 242 well fill in arizona, and will help make the system more efficient and allow us to retain more of the surface water storage that's available. that's a good example of that capability. >> and by capturing water in other places, we can keep more in lake mead and lake powell? >> absolutely. and the expanded authorities that we have in the water recycling category as well will do exactly the same thing. >> mr. buschatzke, same question for you. how will this funding -- can you think of some examples how this is going to help arizona and the west? >> yes, chairman kelly.
1:48 pm
yes, chairman kelly. in yuma, arizona, the area that jennifer pitt referred to in her remarks about lettuce in the winter time, there's infrastructure improvements that can make sure that over deliveries in the lower part of the river do not occur. that water will not go to waste. if those infrastructure improvements are made. we also are looking again at paying for conservation with willing partners. i think some of the funding could be available for that. it's not necessarily infrastructure, but it will result in more water in lake mead and leveraging money that the state has made available to me for that purpose within our state. we are working with the nevada water authority, the metropolitan water district of southern california, the central arizona project on potential recycling project in southern california that would allow the recycled water to be used in southern california instead of
1:49 pm
being discharged into the ocean in a way that the other partners could share in some of the benefits of that water in their states. so those are just a couple of examples. infrastructure funding and the funding available in that bill are critical. we're looking at in-state brackish groundwater desalination, looking at doing ocean desalination in the sea of cortez with mexico under minute 323. there's no end to the list of potential projects that could benefit arizona, the lower basin, and lake mead. >> thank you, mr. buschatzke. i'll now recognize senator hoeven for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i don't want to get ahead of the ranking member. >> sorry. no, no, no. >> i would defer to the ranking member. >> yes, let's do that. >> either way. my first question is going to be for ms. ellingson. what sort of impacts are you
1:50 pm
currently seeing from the drought on farmers, ranchers, and rural communities and how it's impacting them compared to years past? >> thank impacts have been described, faithful decisions in order to respond to that. decisions like recalling their herd in some extreme cases. also, sending animals far away to be fed, or sourcing extensive, expensive feed, which is hard to come by and expensive to hall. these are expensive decisions and of course our city's economy, not only would impact the livestock industry but the overall economy. serious issues that are impacting as we work through the conditions at hand. >> okay. and in terms of mitigating
1:51 pm
drought-related stress on farms and ranchers, which contracts offered through usda natural resources conservation do you and people in your position, the folks in the cattle-producing industry, which one of those programs do you rely on the most? >> there's a whole array of programs live stock producers benefit from, the conservation program, certainly there's opportunities for enhancement of practices, whether it's water development and such, that certainly is an important one. similarly, we have state programs that help support producers efforts to put those same types of practices on the ground and, again, helping long-term mitigation of drought and other challenges. >> and what potential consequences would your industry face if any of those projects were delayed or backlogged or
1:52 pm
slowed down greatly? >> there would be significant challenges. again, those are our opportunities to not only deal with the right now, but the long-term sustainability of our operations and of course the sustainability of livestock grazing has impacts on wild life and other areas so those programs are very meaningful and we urge for continued support of them. >> thank you senator now that we have the water figured out, senator. >> thank you very much, you talked about the impacts of the drought this year. talk a little about the impacts if this becomes a multi-year drought. >> yes, so while we hope and pray that isn't the case, we're prepared for the seriousness of that. of course, this year, our producers haven't had the significant drought last year like many within the committee
1:53 pm
here, but talking of course last year within our state as well. this year, producers are relying on the preserves they have in their hay piles, again, having a head start. however, as we burn through those resources and those resources are incredibly scarce as our neighbors across the west are buying from the same ones, it will become even more serious in the long-term, to replenish the land and get back to normal if you will. also, indicating some of the decisions that producers are faced with right now -- down sizing their herd, and sourcing livestock feed for their herd. >> right, and that's particularly true as we work to get our younger ranchers in the business and have got some in the business, this is a particular challenge for them, isn't it? and keeping them going? >> absolutely. there's nothing that livestock producers want more than to pass their operations on to the next
1:54 pm
generation, so the daily decisions, whether it's natural resources and attention to natural resources in our care or ushering in the next generation to carry on that tradition is so vitally important and concerned about those young producers, again, picking up the baton and doing the good things on the land and copper mines for us as well. >> you also mentioned the grazing in public lands in north dakota and other places in the west, and the important role that those allotments plays. are there steps the administration should take to provide more flex nlt to ranchers looking for additional sources of forage? >> yes, that certainly would be helpful, and the public lands are certainly important to our livestock industry, so important coordination for the producers
1:55 pm
and grazing on those alotments is critical. certainly, they have the importance of caring for those lands just like as if their own private land and significance to their operation. whether it's having that open dialogue, viewing livestock grazing as a critical component to sustaining those landscapes, as well as addressing issues like the overstocking of horse and burrows, all the sustainability of the allotment and dealing with the drought at hand. >> one of the questions i was going to ask, and one of the programs is of course the live stock assistance program which we now have to help with the transportation cost of water, as well as the transportation cost of feed, but pairing that up with live stock forage program and others, that's something we have to have on a long-term basis, right? not just a one-year deal for
1:56 pm
drought? >> absolutely. the enhancements that were added to the emergency livestock assistance programs to off set the cost of transportation is significant, meaningful to every livestock producer in north dakota this year, so we're appreciative of additional support, as well as other programs like the live stock forage program under the usda umbrella are important to our producers and keeping them maintained in a permanent status is important, because that helps livestock producers plan and make the best decisions under serious conditions. >> thank you, and then secretary traheil, in north dakota, as far as moving water east from the missouri river, we got the red river valley water supply project, and we've got the
1:57 pm
endausalternate supply, the estimate river alternate supply project, and there was a record decision signed on endas. given the extreme drought in our state, would you support the reclimation's work to bring the water supply project and in particular, endos to bring the water supply online? work with us to do that? >> thank you, senator, absolutely, yes. that is an important project, and we're working to bring it forward as quick as possible. it's a connection between surface water and ground water and the need for backup supplies and the need to be innovative, that's what we need to do right now. >> fantastic. thank you for that, and please, come out, we'll give you the tour and would love to host you. >> thank you. that would be nice. >> thank you, senator.
1:58 pm
ms. pitt i want to back up and talk about the infrastructure bill, the $8.3 billion to repair western water infrastructure. what does this do to help ecosystem health? >> thank you for the question. you know, there are all kinds of infrastructure that agricultural producers rely on, and particularly in the higher elevation. we chose the river basin, we have seen some really impressive examples of infrastructure investment that are, for instance, allowing rancher to create some small, low-head structures in a creek on their property and that in turn is holding water on the property longer during the season,
1:59 pm
extending their water supply, allowing for additional groundwater recharge, improving the health of wetlands and generally improving ecosystem health. there are other examples -- i read about one recently, on the henry fork in south western wyoming where funding was used to convert a ranch from wet irrigation to sprinklers and that actually is preventing salt loading in the river. again, creating additional resilience for the rancher in that extensive water supply longer through the year, because they're not using so much of the flood and it's improving strain health. so i think there are a lot of win-wins with ranchers who are taking good care of the land with additional federal support
2:00 pm
for infrastructure can also help improve the ecosystem and ecosystem services that we into he'd to scale up right now in order to improve the health of the watershed that really are the source of our water supply, all the way down the river. >> thank you, ms. pitt. and senator berasso, if you are ready, we'll turn it over to you. >> thank you so much, mr. chairman, thank you to all of our witnesses today. ms. elligson, as you know, in the state of wyoming and particularly across the west, hard hit are our farmers and ranchers, who are the backbone of our communities and rural economy. so in discussing the impact on ranchers and farmers, there was an article in the sheridan press
2:01 pm
where the farm sharing agency, was quoted as saying this year was extremely dry, producers had a lack of feed, a lack of stock water due to the drought, seen resevoires drying up and had to use extra hay, haul in extra feed from out of the county and out of state, and some had to sell down their cattle. there have been people who had to liquidate some of their herd, last year was dry but compounded this year. closing hardship for producers. is this what you are hearing and seeing on the ground back in north dakota as well? >> yes, barrasso, in a word, absolutely that's what our producers are faced with from border to border, north to south and east to west. in fact a statement from that excerpt really could have been from our state and i know many
2:02 pm
others across the country. we indicated, we didn't have the serious drought state-wide like you all did last year, fortunately, making up for a lot of time. challenges related to reducing feed, on the herd, the challenges you are experiencing now. for example, a member from a quadrant in our state who talked about an opportunity for crp in part of our state has to make 58 trips to bring the hay back home, the equivalent of 30,000 miles. to put it another way -- 25,000 miles is the circumference of the earth, so significant distances, yes. >> thank you. so it's clear ranchers and farmers are struggling not just in one limited location. what do you believe the
2:03 pm
department can do to prioritize providing more water for ranching and farming communities out west in the short term and longterm? >> thank you, senator. we are working very closely with our partner federal agencies such as usda on exactly these issues. we have, within the reclamation program, opportunities to expand water supplies and working collaboratively with farmers in all of the western states with respect to the department of agriculture programs, we understand they have additional capabilities available and will be working to supply those and use them, again, innovatively, to be able to meet constituents' needs. >> so the family farm alliance has submitted written testimony for the record, and i ask you that it be considered part of the record. thank you mr. chairman.
2:04 pm
>> in the written testimony, states with regard to water projects, partially designed and constructs storage projects provide flexibility to better meet downstream urban industrial and agriculture needs to provide flood control, better hydropower, and create better instream flows that can benefit down stream fish and in stream species. do you agree with that segment? >> i do, and i was able to see that testimony earlier today and i really appreciate their partnership. i think working with storage both underground and above ground in ways to help maximize our flexibility helps us a lot in lots of different contexts. >> as you know, cattle ranching is vital to my state's rural economy. how does the administration tend
2:05 pm
to make sure it doesn't interrupt food supplies. >> working with the relationships our ranchers have endured this year in particular and past years, making sure we have tools available to meet the emergency needs but build resilience, and those are the types of programs we are looking forward to, in the infrastructure context and in our other programs as well. >> final question. are there things we could have done, say, ten years ago to put us in better place today to manage the drought and building more storage? would that have been better to capture, store water during the wet years? >> it probably depends on a place-by-place to answer the question. in some places, we had storage we were able to utilize, in some
2:06 pm
we have challenges we need to improve upon. the ageing infrastructure issue is an important priority for us, building additional capabilities is something we want to work on . >> thank you, chairman. >> thank you senator. >> i think it was last year the snow pack in the rockies was close to 90% of normal, but the run-off into the river was in the 25 or 30% or so which is rather concerning. if we see this continue, basin states will face a second round of water curtailments. we originally planned for this to happen around 2026 but new data suggests we need to prepare for this much sooner than anticipates so mr. bocofsky, what are the seven states doing to prepare for this? >> so, senator kelly, that outcome that you described in terms of relatively average
2:07 pm
snow-pack but very small run-off is something of huge concern to us moving forward. the seven basin states have been meeting since about june and have a series of meetings scheduled between now and the end of the year. one of the things we are talking about is what we expect the future flow of the river to be, we've seen reductions in flow over the last 30 years and need to come to some level of understanding and planning on what to count on into the future and rachet down our action items and water use to match what we think the river is going to be. within the lower basin, again, i mentioned a consultation provision, we have also been meaning other ways to protect lake meade, again, talking about additional conservation efforts and perhaps additional cuts if it comes to that to help protect the declining levels of lake meade. so i think we will continue to work on that from now to the end
2:08 pm
of the year, try to put a program in place hopefully by the end of the year. the longer we wait to take those actions for lake powell and lake meade, the more you have to conserve or the more you have to cut to achieve the same desired result in the future. >> for folks watching this that might be, if you don't understand the science behind this, maybe you can talk a little bit about that. you know, how do we wind up with 90% or so of snow pack and only 25 or 30% of the normal amount of water into the river? >> so senator kelly, we believe that is a prime example of what climate change is doing. it is hotter, it is dryer, and the snow either sublimates or does not run into the river, it soaks into the ground. in the prior year, summer precipitation in which at least arizona we call the monsoon or mountainsoon had very little
2:09 pm
precipitation, very dry, a lot of the water soaked into the ground. we have also seen the snow melting earlier in time, also seen vegetation growing sooner which of course uses more of the water as well. so those are kind of the elements that all connect to that outcome that you described, and we have not just seen it last year, we've seen it in prior years as well. >> thank you, and mr. truhio, are you confident an inner state agreement will be reached and is reclimation participating in this? >> thank you, senator, as mentioned earlier we have a proven track record with agreements in the river basin, i can assure you we will continue that track record and acclimation is in the middle of the on going discussions. i want to compliment the work of my colleague tom boushevsky and
2:10 pm
others really trying to roll up their sleeves and be in front of the future conditions we may be seeing. >> and mr. bouchavsky how confident are you another agreement will be reached? >> well, senator, it's not an option, millions of people and farm land rely on this. we faced the plan in 2018, 2019, have hard decisions to make but we will get there. i believe arizona and the other states do not want an outcome where the secretary may dictate winners and losers and certainly do not want to be in a courtroom where the judge dictates winners and losers. those are tough decisions, we will get there although it will not be easy and want to compliment senator truhil for the help in that regard that is essential and as i mentioned
2:11 pm
earlier, the data and the modelling project, the modelling outcomes that they are projecting for us are critical to those discussions. so we will get there, and because we have to. we don't have a choice. >> thank you, i'll now recognize senator lee for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. the impact of the drought on my home state of utah has been quite severe, really severe in fact. the u.s. drought monitor shows 100% of my state is in severe, extreme, or exceptional drought and has been unfortunately, for some time. we all know drought has different impacts on different areas and even different people within different areas. along the highly developed wapesh front region of my state, it may mean that you take steps to conserve water. perhaps with your lawn or otherwise, we appreciate those efforts and are thankful to
2:12 pm
people for doing their part in wherever they live. but for other people, like farmers and ranchers, the impacts of drought can be much more direct and severe. many grazing allotments in utah have been cut 20% in capacity and forage just isn't there for the cattle and sheep to graze on. we're seeing this problem -- in fact in some utah counties hay production is down 30%, some farmers ordering feed as far away as nebraska, something they normally don't do. providers of water, are down to a trickle, forcing us to ration. during the summer months, producers forced to cull a thousand to 1500 head a week.
2:13 pm
that's 1000 to 1500 animals wasted, a week, to the drought. adjustments are made to address the drought issues we face, like utah in particular. everywhere i go in my state i hear about the need for reinforced water infrastructure. unfortunately, bureaucratic practices often stand in the way of the safe, effective drought mitigation efforts. can you tell me how many water infrastructure storage products are currently under going nepa evaluation for your government? >> thank you senator lee, i don't know off-hand but i have the privilege of working closely with the cupca office and the storage benefits they provide
2:14 pm
are essential especially during these drought issues. >> thank you, i assume you do have access to that information, about the number of water storage infrastructure projects currently undergoing nepa analysis? >> i can work with our folks at reclamation and get that to you as soon as possible. >> thank you, if you could get that in the next week, that would be very helpful. could you tell me the average amount of time required to complete an eis for water infrastructure projects? >> i don't know that off the top of my head, but we can look into that. i know, you know, there are several storage projects for example in california that we're working on and other areas that are important to maintain that. >> thank you, thank you, i appreciate your willingness to get that information for me. in our committee mark-up, you know, of the energy infrastructure act back in july, just a couple months ago, i heard there's been an amendment modelled off an existing program, one that's facilitated by the department of
2:15 pm
transportation called the surface transportation project delivery program. this is a program for which all states are eligible which allows the secretary of transportation to assign and, for the state, voluntarily, to assume the secretary's responsibilities for nepa for one or more highway projects as states feel that they can handle and mr. bouchevsky, both utah and arizona participate in that voluntary program in the transportation context. now participants in my state say the program greatly expedited the rate at which they can start work on crucial infrastructure transportation projects the state chooses to prioritize. they appreciate being able to take up these projects on a case-by-case basis. do you think such a program could be helpful in developing
2:16 pm
water infrastructure projects in of your state and curbing the effects of the west pro longed and devastating drought? >> senator lee, i'm not hugely familiar with that program in arizona, but i know the department of arizona transportation is using that program and i know often when there's categorical exclusion, nepa works very well. i do know, in my experience, with these nepa projects and components, are looking for a reduction in time, a reduction in transactional costs, but also looking forward to robust processes that can stand the test for litigation, so i think there's a balance there in terms of how that program could work on the infrastructure side and i think there's an outcome in which we can get to a place where we still have the necessary robust nepa process get to a point where infrastructure projects can be accelerated while still protecting the environment and going through all of the nepa
2:17 pm
elements that need to be looked at in that process. >> thank you, thank you, i see my time's expired. i'll note just to reiterate what you said, i got a list here of number of categorical exclusions that we've seen in arizona on this. it appears to have gone well and it's preserved the environmental interests at stake and doing so in a way that helps things move forward. thank you very much, thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you, i'll now recognize senator hyde-smith. >> thank you, during our confirmation hearing earlier this year, you were asked your views on how to strike a balance between environmental economic dues and impacts. you responded saying you are trying to work with congress and stake holders and tribes, farmers, cities, to find that said balance. farmers, ranchers in rural communities are, as you know, extremely important, not just
2:18 pm
for my state, but the entire nation. what is being done at the federal level to ensure maintenance backlogs within b.o.r. are being addressed? >> thank you, senator. i think a lot of the discussion today is done on the importance of maintaining our programs that help support the farming and ranching communities around the west. i think also talking about the need for improved infrastructure and the need for continued innovation in water recycling-type programs that are maintenance and operation issues are a priority, that those tie carefully, with respect, for example, to our land safety programs that and that may be what you are referring to. but i think we are making sure to continue we can provide efficient and reliable water supply to all the communities that benefit from our programs.
2:19 pm
>> okay. and i'd like to discuss the water smart initiative which both the bureau and usda are working with, with states, tribes and local entities to pro or ties water supply and modernize existing infrastructure to help resolve rural communities' water conflicts. as september 2nd of this year, elected 22 postulates across the west, with $72.3 million in funding across the western state. given this large investment to update water storage infrastructure to combat wide-spread drought, what are you doing to prioritize this program in order to ensure these rural communities have more vital access to more water?
2:20 pm
>> thank you, senator, for acknowledging the water smart program is a very effective and popular program within our reclamation portfolio. congress authorized some of the elements of that program over ten years ago and it's something we have continued to build upon in our annual budgeting process and continuing to think through how to best evaluate the requests that we come in for expanded capabilities there. it is something that we will continue to do, so, in that regard, it's a good program and we appreciate congressional support for it. >> great. thank you. >> and just to follow up on the senator's question about water smart program, ms. pitt, could you provide examples on how these grants could be used for climate resilience in the colorado river basin. >> thank you, you know, community resilience to climate
2:21 pm
change can be improved with investment in nature-based solutions. for -- with water smart investments, that help farmers and ranchers make improvements on their properties in particular, that can help them extend their water supply, as well as improve the health of their properties. and i think the examples that i gave earlier with respect to low head structures and strains as well as sprinkler pivots, irrigation systems replacing flood are two good examples of how water smart investments can, at scale, really help us with water supply. >> thank you. i want to pivot here to
2:22 pm
something i look at nearly every single week, i'll take a look and see the levels in lake meade especially but also lake powell. this is for mr. hio and mr. bouchovsky, i want to talk about the latest predictions for the two residence vrs, in august, there was a two year projection that water levels at the hoover damn would maintain thousand level below sea level, the cut backs for arizona and nevada, lake powell would also lose water but remain at the minimum power pool level, and that's the elevation where the glen canyon dam would have to pause its hydropower operations. in september, though, reclamation issues a new five-year projection that painted a bleaker picture. lake powell could approach dead
2:23 pm
pool by 2022 and lake meade's opportunity of entering tier two cutbacks by 2023 increased. and i think everybody benefits from using the best available science, i'm a big believer in that, because we need to know what we're up against here. so mr. hio, could you walk us tlus why these projections changed from what we saw before september to what we saw with the five-year projection. >> absolutely, senator, thank you, and part of the answer involves the continued ability for us to involve the most available science and maintain for the people watching this information, the reclamation folks, continues on a 24 month
2:24 pm
basis, and on a regular basis, the five year projections. we have been doing that for several years, but we are continuing to try to improve upon the capabilities in those reports. the most recent changes have involved clarification of the time frame that we're using to feed into them. so instead of using a hundred year record, we have focused more specifically on a 30-year record, because that accurately projects what we have anticipated we will be seeing in the future. we have done that previously, but we've been focusing on it in this most recent projection. an additional change involves an assumption that relates to upper basin additional releases into lake powell and we are not continuing that assumption, because we're not sure what the projected drought response actions are going to be, so we
2:25 pm
want to be safe and conservative about what we're doing there. so those are two examples of how we've changed from a month to month basis but we're working very collaboratively with the other folks on the base be on how to do that. >> and to switch from the hundred year data set to the 30 year, was it, did it, was it because historically, as you are trying to do these projections, the 30-year data set was just turning out to be more accurate in making future predictions? >> that's absolutely correct. we have, in the hundred year projections, that included some of the very, very wet year that we're not anticipating to see going forward. so that was making the results skewed in that regard. and, again, we had been doing both of the analysis for some
2:26 pm
time, but are now focusing on the shorter term range and think that's more accurate going forward. >> well thank you, i'm going to come back to this in about five minutes. i'll recognize senator hyde-smith again for five minutes. >> well, let me just transition then to, back to mr. bouchavsky here. what are your views on reclamation's data and how it affects state planning. >> i welcome the approach reclamation has decided to use, for at least six years that i'm aware of, we've looked at removing the historical record prior to 1931, and that, or that hydrologic record maps very closely with the 30-year record now that reclamation is using in
2:27 pm
the drought contingency plan we looked at the same kind of 30 year period in terms of bending the probability curve to better protect lake powell and lake meade so it's not something new, but i welcome the more conservative approach. i think it's incumbent upon us as water managers to use that more conservative approach and plan for the dryer years rather than the wetter years. i'll also say that we have, that approach has raised the bar again for the necessary conservation action items we need to take to protect lake meade and lake powell and if it's wetter than this more conservative approach, i'll do my happy dance, which i don't think anyone wants to see, but we will plan for that dryer future within our state and using those more conservative projections gives us more leeway to deal with the future. >> let's hope at some point we get to see that dance, but i want to commend you and all
2:28 pm
arizona stakeholders for designing a state-specific drought mitigation plan to see us through these initial drought curtailments in our state and even though we are about to lose 18% of our colorado river water allocation, remarkably, most arizonaians are not going to notice this. it will be transparent to them. but one important community that will feel the pain of this is the farmers in central arizona, and many of these farms grow cotton, others grow cattle feed for our local dairy farms which are top agricultural products in our state. so mr. bouchavsky, what can be done right now and into next year to help our central arizona
2:29 pm
farmers? >> well, senator kelly, our central arizona farmers maintain the right to pump groundwater that they received in the 1980 ground water code with of course conservation and efficiency requirements. state made $40 million available for those farmers for infrastructure and efficiency programs that will help them, water users with higher priority water like cities, tribes and industrial users are sending some of their water to those farmers, in return for eventually getting a credit back for the use of that water by the farmers. so we put together a very robust mitigation plan, honoring the priority system within our state for water rights. yet, despite that factor, projections in 2018 and '19 were they still have to allow 30, to 40% of their land.
2:30 pm
the other option they are pursuing is through the department of agricultural conservation partnership program, we have an application in those irrigation districts to the federal government also for financial help, again, for infrastructure and efficiency improvements. so we're doing the best we can to help somewhat mitigate those water uses but cannot fully mitigate the loss of the water that occurred to them, because of the water high priority system that we are ordering within our state. >> when they fallow the land, and you mention some, is there any sort of guarantee they are going to be compensated for doing that? >> again, the compensation that we are providing to them is really about them being able to more effectively and efficiently move their water and use their water so that the fallowing of the land is less than it otherwise would be without that program. so straight up mitigation for just the fallowing is not really
2:31 pm
available to them, but we hope they can largely stay in business through this mitigation program and moving into the future, which is going to be very different for them moving forward. they're not going to be able to farm the way they have farmed historically and it's a real paradigm shift through the agriculture community through central and southern arizona. >> let's continue to work together to make sure we have the best possible outcome here and ms. fajillo, another question for you on this, could the interior and department of agriculture do more to support these central arizona farmers? >> thank you, senator, we look forward to working with you and the partners in arizona on working on that. the programs that we have available are designed to help farmers and ranchers in those types of situations and, again, look forward to working with usda on trying to make sure we
2:32 pm
can meet the most needs as possible. >> thank you, and ms. pitt, i understand that you also spent years in arizona working on these colorado river issues, so thank you again for being here today. and autobon is part of a coalition of conservation organizations that helped efforts to restore and maintain endangered species along the colorado river and to maintain their habitats. partnerships with farmers, state and local governments, and other water users are key to making this all work. i would add tribal governments are important players too because they hold substantial water rights in the west. are there tribes in the lower basin who are eager to do more to help and what can congress do to empower them?
2:33 pm
>> thank you for the question, senator kelly. indeed, tribes in arizona on a number have agreed to conserve water, in order to help arizona's water usage and sportage, creating system water and conserved water to users, however some tribes are limited by restrictions of their water off-reservation, not allowed to transfer the water off-reservation, so congress could extend the benefit of tribal water conservation and allow those tribes to engage in transfers with water users who are experiencing shortages. allow transfers that simplify water for the environment, and as a matter of equity, ensuring that tribes are able to leech
2:34 pm
water off the reservation seems only fair given that other water users in arizona enjoy that right. >> and if, as they transfer water off of their tribal land, and lease the water, so they're compensated financially for this leasing, what does that -- what does that compel them to do? >> well, they have to start, i guess, by conserving some water on their land and then with that conserved use, they are able, if congress could enable off-reservation transfers, then their conserved use would be at present but for many tribes they are not able to do that at this
2:35 pm
time, notwithstanding some of the largest water rates in the state of arizona. >> so their significant motivation then, towards conservation. >> absolutely. >> well, thank you. before we close here, i want to take an opportunity to, for mr. bouchavsky and ms. trajillo here, you know, thinking ahead and outside of the box, we mentioned desalinization what that would look like for you, in the sea of cortez, how much water that could create, any details you have on that, but also any other large scale, you know, possible solutions. i, again, want to reiterate, we are the most creative country in the world. we are really good at solving hard problems, especially engineering problems. i come, you know, from a background in engineering, i know we can solve this.
2:36 pm
and arizona and the lower basin states, you know, we got bright future. arizona has the largest or the fastest growing county in the country. maripoka county, businesses come to arizona and should continue to come because we'll fix this issue, but i would like to hear from you just a little bit as you think about this and start to think outside the box, what comes to mind? >> i think those of us looking forward to answering the question, i'll kick off with a few responses. i think the themes from this whole hearing have involved the need to be innovative and flexible and that's what we'll absolutely have to do in the colorado river basin, but we also have emphasized the need to be collaborative and work together on these issues. i think you raised the topic of
2:37 pm
trying to use technology, trying to be creative, trying to have that underlying basis in science, and that's what we're committed to do at reclamation and usgs and interior department, it's no doubt about it that we're going to be part of those conversations and look forward to trying to have those resources available to our communities. our partners in arizona are available and going to be working with us, specifically on those issues. >> mr. bouchavsky. >> senator kelly, i guess i'll focus on the desalination and sea of cortez. with the appointment recently of the u.s. international water commissioners and in new mexico,
2:38 pm
we can move forward on that process. in june of 2020 you can see on the international evaluation of water commission, three part report, we can look at opportunities in the sea of cortez for the binational desalination plan, they are relatively cost effective, using a mechanism to transfer water or exchange water with mexico and deliver that desal water down the yuma area. we have several issues to work through over the years with mexico, and then if we decide, collectively, to move forward the project, another minute to the treaty -- the mexican water treaty -- needs to be negotiated. so we are probably eight to ten years out in the normal course of business with actually having a plant but if economically feasible, we can get the water where it's needed. it can create great benefits not
2:39 pm
only for arizona, but nevada and nevada who are participating and, of course, mexico. so i have great optimism that we will achieve that end over time and i think the commitment of the department of interior through the bureau of reclamation for that process and the state department for interboundary and water commission is critical to that process, moving forward for with mexico. >> thank you and i want to thank my colleagues today, especially my ranking member senator hyde-smith and today's witnesses for participating in today's hearing. thank you very much for being here. before we conclude, though, i want to request unanimous consent to add statements to the record for the yuma county, agriculture, water commission, colorado river energy distributes association, arizona farm bureau, and the family farm alliance.
2:40 pm
so ordered, the subcommittee has a 48-hour deadline for members to submit written questions to our witnesses, so you may see some more questions. the hearing record will remain open for two weeks. thank you again, especially to our witnesses, and the subcommittee stands adjourned. >> c-span3 is your unfiltered view of government, brought to
2:41 pm
you by these company and see more. >> cox is committed to bridging the digital divide, bringing us closer. >> cox supports c-span3 as a service, along with these others, giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> sunday, on in-depth, historian victor davis hanson joins us live to talk about politics in the united states, the case for trump, and his latest, the dying citizen where he says the ideas of american citizenship and ideals associated with it are disappearing. join in the conversation with texts and tune in sunday for
2:42 pm
in-depth on book tv and before the program, get your copies of victor david hanson's book. >> a number of coast guard officials testified at a coast guard hearing, answering questions on a number of topics including the oil spill on the coast of california, vaccine mandates for service members, diversity within the service and maritime secure.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on