August 16, 2022

Cortez Masto and Rosen Urge DOI to Take Stronger Federal Action to Ensure All States Are Contributing to Water Conservation Along Colorado River

Washington, D.C. – In reaction to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) announcement that Nevada and other Western states will face reductions in their allotment of water from the Colorado River, U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) sent a letter to DOI urging the administration to take stronger federal action to ensure that all states along the Colorado River Basin are contributing their fair share to meeting the severity of this crisis.

Nevada has been leading the way on water conservation, and the senators urged DOI to take Nevada’s leadership into account when formulating future water conservation plans. Despite using less water than it did 20 years ago as well as using less than the state’s current allotment from the Colorado River, Nevada has once again been asked to cut its water usage. This letter urges DOI to ensure that other states are taking equally proactive measures to conserve water, and it offers the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s conservation proposals as a vital blueprint for future conservation.

“On June 14, 2022, Commissioner Touton testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee about the urgent need for states and tribes throughout the Colorado River Basin to develop a plan to reduce water consumption to address the historic drought before an August 16, 2022 deadline,” the senators wrote. “Unfortunately, the deadline set by DOI has now passed and without an agreement. Following the recent announcement by the DOI asking Nevada, Arizona, and Mexico to make additional cuts to their water usage to conserve water along the Colorado River Basin, we call on you to take additional federal actions and measures to ensure all Lower Basin states are contributing to the Basin-wide conservation required to meet the severity of this crisis.”

They continued, “To assist with these efforts, we believe Nevada’s decades of leadership in water conservation can provide a vital blueprint for the Colorado River Basin’s future. Accordingly, we urge the expedient implementation of the proposals put forward by the Southern Nevada Water Authority.”

They also urged DOI to expedite the release of the $4 billion in drought funding secured in the Inflation Reduction Act.

“As you assess the proposals put forward by the partners in the region and establish guidelines for utilizing the drought mitigation resources provided in the Inflation Reduction Act, we also ask that you use DOI’s authorities and influence to include all parties in the solution and provide Congress with routine updates on efforts, actions, and coordination underway at the Department,” they concluded.  

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen have diligently worked to combat drought and support water infrastructure. The Inflation Reduction Act includes $4 billion that Senator Cortez Masto secured to combat drought in the West. Senator Cortez Masto also drafted legislation for the bipartisan infrastructure package she and Senator Rosen helped pass to create a $450 million competitive grant program for large-scale water recycling projects across the Western U.S., and she is continuing to build on the popularity and success of this program. Earlier this year, Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen pushed to protect Nevada’s drinking water through the Senate passage of the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act and secured a total of $17 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for the Lake Tahoe Basin over the next five yearsThey were also instrumental in passing the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act, which requires the Department of the Interior to carry out the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan signed by the seven Colorado River Basin states, including Nevada.