Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s (D-Nev.) bipartisan Open Access Evapotranspiration (OpenET) Act passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today with strong bipartisan support. Her bill will make water data more accessible and serve as a critical tool for farmers, ranchers, and decision-makers to help conserve resources and combat drought in the West. The legislation now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
“Climate change has exacerbated the devasting impacts of drought throughout the West and this bipartisan legislation will helps us ensure we’re using our water resources as effectively as possible,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This bill will make essential water data more accessible for our ranchers and water authorities so they can protect our water supply, and I’ll continue fighting to get this legislation across the finish line.”
Cortez Masto’s OpenET Act would create a Department of the Interior program to use publicly-available data from satellites and weather stations to provide estimates of evapotranspiration (ET)—a critical measure of the water that is consumed and removed from a water system. This innovative program would protect the financial viability of agricultural operations during drought, allow water users to develop more accurate budgets to promote conservation and sustainability, and help groundwater managers make more informed decisions that could help conserve water in Nevada communities.
The bill text can be found HERE.
Senator Cortez Masto has been a leader in the Senate working to combat drought. She fought to deliver $4 billion to combat drought in the states bordering the Colorado River in the Inflation Reduction Act and she helped pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which will continue to make a historic amount of funding available for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements across the country over the next five years. Cortez Masto also passed into law a $450 million competitive grant program for large-scale water recycling projects across the Western U.S.