Bennet Invited Beaudreau and Touton to the Western Slope to Hear from Coloradans Experiencing Record Drought
View and Download Photos and B-Roll of Fly Over HERE
Denver — Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry, and Natural Resources, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau and Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton viewed the severe drought conditions in the Colorado River Basin in a fly over hosted by EcoFlight and the Colorado River District. Bennet also hosted Beaudreau and Touton for a listening session with Colorado water users, where they discussed the challenges they have faced due to climate change-fueled drought and how they would like to see the $4 billion in funding for drought from the Inflation Reduction Act implemented, which Bennet secured in the law in August.
“I’m grateful Deputy Secretary Beaudreau and Commissioner Touton joined me on the Western Slope to see the incredibly challenging conditions faced by our water users and to learn about ways they are working together to face a future with less water,” said Bennet. “I look forward to our continued work towards a long-term solution and sustainable future for the Colorado River Basin.”
“I appreciate the opportunity to join Senator Bennet and Upper Colorado River Commissioner Mitchell to see the effects of this continued drought on the Colorado River Basin and reaffirm our collective focus on collaboration,” said Touton. “Reclamation remains fully committed to work in a consensus manner to implement meaningful water management and conservation actions across the Upper and Lower Basins, with Tribal Nations, and Mexico.”
During the fly over, Bennet, Beaudreau, and Touton viewed drought conditions in the Colorado River Basin, viewing the Uncompahgre River, the Blue Mesa Reservoir, the headwaters of the Colorado River, the Paonia Reservoir and Dam, and the Grand Valley Project.
Bennet then hosted Beaudreau and Touton for a listening session at Colorado Mesa University with Colorado water users including representatives from the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Tribes, water districts, irrigators, and other water leaders, to discuss the challenges they have faced due to drought and the ways they are adapting to a drier climate.
Last week, Bennet led a group of Colorado and New Mexico lawmakers in urging BOR to prioritize funding for long-term, permanent solutions to the drought crisis in the Colorado River Basin as it allocates the $4 billion in new funding from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) for Western drought.
As the American West faces extreme drought, fueled by climate change, Bennet secured $4 billion in the IRA to address drought in the West by funding water conservation, habitat restoration, and mitigation. The IRA also includes a $370 billion investment to fight climate change, including $25 billion for forestry, conservation, and environmentally friendly farming, which falls under Bennet’s Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry, and Natural Resources.
In June, Bennet chaired a subcommittee hearing to sound the alarm on the Western water crisis. Last year, he secured a historic investment in western water infrastructure in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. He continues to work with his colleagues to build on the progress of the IRA and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to address extreme drought, combat climate change, and protect Western water.