Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today led Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Col.) and Representatives Susie Lee (D-Nev.-03), Chris Stewart (R-Utah-02), Jared Huffman (D-Cal.-02), and Burgess Owens (R-Utah-04) in reintroducing the bicameral, bipartisan Open Access Evapotranspiration (OpenET) Act, which will make water data more accessible for everyone and improve water management across the West. This is a critical tool for farmers, ranchers, and decision-makers to help Western states conserve resources and combat drought.
The OpenET Act creates a program under the Department of the Interior (DOI) 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.
“Nevada and other states along the Colorado River Basin are continuing to face a water crisis, and we need every tool possible to protect our water resources,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “My legislation will help us measure and better understand our water resources and will make essential water data more accessible. I’ll continue working to fight the drought and ensure Nevada’s communities have the tools they need to protect and manage our water supply.”
“I’ve said it over and over—you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” said Congresswoman Susie Lee. “The American West is facing the worst drought in 12 centuries. It’s going to require shared information and coordination across all fronts to solve this crisis. That’s why I am proud to introduce this common-sense, bipartisan bill to help manage our water resources more efficiently, both in the West and across the nation. Passing this legislation now means more-informed water management practices and a more sustainable future for Nevada and the Colorado River Basin in the years to come. This isn’t a partisan political issue. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents across the West are all facing this impending drought crisis, and that’s why we are standing together across the aisle here in Washington in support of this legislation.”
Changing climate has exacerbated the devasting impacts of drought throughout the West and limited and expensive information has been an obstacle in making important decisions that could benefit Nevada’s communities. Access to water data is crucial in knowing how much water is available and how much is being used to maximize the benefits of our water supplies.
The OpenET program will assist in managing water resources, protect financial viability of agricultural operations during drought, develop more accurate budgets to promote conservation and sustainability, and improve groundwater management to understand our water consumption through data-driven strategies.
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.