Emergency Watershed Protection Funds Will Help Protect Drinking Water, Restore Watersheds
The House of Representatives today passed the Senate bill that includes $65.5 million in resources for the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program, which will help Colorado communities recovering from last summer’s devastating Waldo Canyon and High Park fires. The bill is a Continuing Resolution that will fund the government through the rest of the year and prevent a government shutdown at the end of the month. It now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“Communities in Colorado will finally be able to complete these vital recovery projects that will protect drinking water and watershed infrastructure,” Bennet said. “Colorado’s Congressional delegation worked together to secure these resources, and I am glad we finally have resolution for the state. Colorado is ready to put these resources to work.”
The federal EWP program is designed to support efforts to restore eroded watersheds and damaged drinking water infrastructure. The $65.5 million would cover the nationwide backlog of EWP recovery projects stemming from major disasters.
Bennet visited the Greeley-Bellvue Water Treatment Plant in northern Colorado in January to highlight the need for federal resources to protect drinking water in the wake of last summer’s wildfires. During the visit, Bennet and local leaders from Greeley, Fort Collins, and Larimer County discussed the region’s work to preserve and protect watersheds. Last month, he visited the Flying W Ranch in Colorado Springs, which burned to the ground during last year’s Waldo Canyon wildfire and embodies the challenges that Colorado communities across the state face as they work to recover from a devastating wildfire season.
Federal resources for the recovery projects through the EWP program were secured in a bipartisan bill passed in the Senate last year, but the House chose not to take up that bill prior to adjourning its session on January 2, and the bill expired. In the 113th Congress, House leadership drafted a new bill that excluded resources for Colorado and other states hit by disasters around the country. The President has since signed that bill into law to get much-needed assistance to states affected by Hurricane Sandy.