Bennet: Loan Fund Would Help Protect Colorado Water Against Harmful Invasive Species

Washington, DC - Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, announced today that local municipalities and agencies fighting non-native invasive species that threaten Colorado's land and water supply, including tamarisk, zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and Russian Olive, could get help from a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate.

The Invasive Species Emergency Response Fund Act, which Bennet is co-sponsoring, would establish a loan fund for states west of the 100th Meridian to help combat invasive species and mitigate their effects on Colorado's water supply.

"We need all hands on deck in the effort to protect Colorado's land and water from the harmful effects of aquatic nuisances and other invasive species," Bennet said. "This revolving loan fund enlists the federal government in that fight, and provides local communities with the resources they need to protect and preserve Colorado's precious land and water for future generations to enjoy."

The bill would provide additional resources local organizations could use to remove invasive plant species such as tamarisk that utilize large amounts of precious water; combat invasive species in aquatic ecosystems that harm water supplies and reduce water quality; and reduce harmful weed populations that serve as fuel for expansive wildfires.

According to the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Tamarisk alone consumes more than 90,000 acre/ft of water in Colorado annually-enough water to sustain 180,000 families of four for one year.

The bill also would provide an emergency source of funds so local officials can curb the growth and spread of new invasive species before they overwhelm a habitat. The current annual budget cycle does not provide for such a mechanism.