DENVER — Facing a historic drought that had a strong hold on the American West requires huge federal infrastructure investments to protect existing water supplies, but it’s all about government efforts to reduce demand by promoting water efficiency and recycling. levels will depend on efforts, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said on Thursday.
Haaland told reporters in Denver that the Biden administration’s proposed fiscal 2022 budget includes a $1.5 billion investment in the Bureau of Reclamation, which manages water and electricity in western states, and provides basic infrastructure for states, tribes and communities. Invests more than $54 million for infrastructure and water upgrades. planning projects.
“Drought doesn’t affect just one community. It affects all of us – from farmers and pastoralists to city dwellers and Indian tribes. We all have a role to play in using water wisely,” said Haaland on the three-day visit. Said at the beginning. To address the US response to the growing shortage of Colorado water and widespread wildfires across the region.
The American West, including most of western Colorado, is reeling from the worst drought in modern history. The northern part of the state has been facing deadly floods and landslides after rain lashed the areas affected by massive forest fires last year. Fires are burning throughout the West, most severely in Oregon and California, while drought stresses major waterways such as the Colorado River and reservoirs that sustain millions of lives.
Drought in the region and recent heat waves linked to climate change have made it harder to fight wildfires. Climate change has made the West hotter and drier over the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires bigger and more destructive.
Holland spoke after meeting with Democratic Representative Diana DeGate, Governor Jared Polis, and Jim Lochhead, chief executive of Denver Water, Colorado’s largest water agency, to discuss drought and potential federal solutions.
Among other initiatives, he said, the Bureau of Reclamation is working to identify and distribute “immediate technical and financial assistance for affected irrigation and Indian tribes.”
Tanya Trujillo, Assistant Secretary of the Department for Water and Science, cited a recent decision to release water from several Upper Colorado River Basin reservoirs to supply Lake Mead and Lake Powell – two man-made reservoirs that hold water from the Colorado River. store the .
The reservoirs are shrinking faster than expected, triggering panic across the region that relies on the river to sustain 40 million people. Federal officials expect to announce the first water shortages in the Colorado River basin next month, leading to cuts in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.
“We’ve seen hydrological estimates that are worse than anticipated,” Trujillo said.
Haaland’s three-day stay in Colorado includes his first visit Friday to the new headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management in Grand Junction, established by the Trump administration in 2019. The agency’s move from Washington, D.C., sparked outrage from critics, who it said affected it. Office. Holland opposed the move as a member of Congress.
The agency overseeing the Department of the Interior manages approximately 250 million acres of public land, most of which is in the West. Polis and Colorado’s congressional delegation have urged Hollande to hold office in Grand Junction.
According to government scientists, Haaland has been visiting extensive areas of the West’s severe dry season over the past several years, resulting in more intense and dangerous wildfires, ripe crops and a lack of vegetation for livestock and wildlife.
They also found that the problem is accelerating – rain storms are becoming increasingly unpredictable and more regions are showing longer intervals between storms since the turn of the century.