Skip to main content

tv   Experts Testify on Response to Colorado River Drought Conditions  CSPAN  October 15, 2021 2:04pm-4:36pm EDT

2:04 pm
were able to fight back against some of the corruption going on in the courts. host: what other job besides lawyer would be a good job to prepare someone for being a judge? caller: i think anybody could do it. we could figure something out. i have been waiting -- host: relief on what, joe? caller: emergency relief. >> testimony from a officials. this hearing just getting underway.
2:05 pm
>> all other members' opening statements submitted by 5:00 p.m. today, or the close of the hearing, whichever comes first. that is so ordered. i ask unanimous consent that teresa leger fernandez andina titus when the hearing task questions. hearing objection, that is so ordered. the chair may also declare recess subject to the call of the chair as described in the notice statements, documents or motions must be submitted to the electronic repository at the following email address. additionally, as with our in-person beatings, members are responsible for their own microphones. please do mute when you're not speaking.
2:06 pm
members will be muted by staff only to avoid inadvertent background noise. members or witnesses experiencing any technical problems should inform committee staff immediately. i will recognize myself for a brief opening statement. thanks again for joining us for the first of two meetings on colorado river drought conditions and response measures. the colorado river is often called the hardest working river in the west. that's because it does so much for so many. the fact we are beating to hear testimony from more than 15 witnesses covering two separate days speaks to this very fact. the river supplies water to communities across seven western states, serves 40 million people from colorado to california, and along the way this river and tributaries flows through six national parks and monuments, supports a multitude of fish and
2:07 pm
wildlife, nearly 6 million acres of irrigated agriculture, and $1.4 trillion in economic activity every year. unfortunately, unprecedented drought conditions are creating challenges for this important river and those who depend on it. in august, the bureau of reclamation made a declaration in the lower colorado river basin. that is due to severe drought and low reservoir conditions which have triggered reduced water releases from lake mead. these are actions -- these are actions taken in the upper basin as well to slow declining water levels at lake powell. water levels in the largest reservoirs have declined to lows that have not been seen since those reservoirs were first filled. understandably it has drawn a lot of national attention and concern.
2:08 pm
after more than two decades a drought of no end in sight, it is clear climate change is fundamentally altering the colorado river, decreasing the water available from the key river, which was already over allocated. climate scientists tell us to expect hotter, drier conditions. even less water being available in the upcoming years. some scientists describe what we are seeing in the southwest as a long-term shift in climate called ratification that portends a multi-decade mega drought. this is deeply concerning for millions who depend on the colorado river, and particularly concerning for communities that already face water insecurity challenges that have long affected tribal communities more than any other across the colorado basin. there are 30 tribal nations across the caller whatever basin. under the winters doctrine first
2:09 pm
recognized by the supreme court in 1908, these tribes have significant legal rights to enough water from the caller whatever to secure and maintain viable homelands. yet tribes have been historically excluded from colorado river management and decision-making. it is essential for both a practical and moral perspective that moving forward tribes play a significant role in the management and decision-making process on the colorado river. i look forward to more discussion on that today. while we face challenges, we have some effective tools in place to deal with the worst effects of this drought. this includes the measures in the colorado river got contingency plan, authorized through legislation led by our chairman in the last congress, but still more action is needed. we look forward to hearing from federal, state and tribal government witnesses today on what more can be done to respond
2:10 pm
to these unprecedented climate challenges across the colorado river basin. we will discuss initiatives led by members of this committee, which include investments in near-term drought response, water rights settlements, solvency improvement projects, 10 investments in drought-proof water recycling projects led by water managers across the colorado river basin. i look forward to hearing more today and next week about the need for future colorado river management plans to effectively incorporate climate science. we have had a lot of ground to cover. i would like to now yield and recognize ranking member bentz for his opening remarks. >> thank you, mr. chair. this is a welcomed committee hearing on an issue that is of incredible importance, not only to the seven states involved with the colorado but all the
2:11 pm
western united states. as you mentioned, this is the first of a two-part hearing on the consequences of this two decades long drought. i am happy we are spending that kind of time on this issue. it is that important. as we know, this drought is affecting all of oregon, california, washington and the western united states. since our last meeting about five months ago, about 5.8 billion acres have burned up in oregon and california. the project water users in the central valley project have been given zero allocation of water. they are not the only ones. this absence of water devastated communities throughout the western united states. thousands are desperately worried yet another year of drought will be the nail in the
2:12 pm
coffin for many, many farming, ranching and communities across the west. in a time of massive supply chain problems, the last thing we need is to rely on foreign countries for food because of more water shortages. i think today our discussion is about choices between a lot of different uses of water. i will be very interested in listening to folks talk about how in the world we will make those choices. a little about the history of the colorado. folks testifying today know far more about it than i. if there was ever an illustration on a microcosm basis -- thus not really true because the colorado is so big. the situation in the colorado is facing is so reflective of what we are going to be seeing all over the west. whenever -- whatever we come up today will be a template for the type of issues we are facing
2:13 pm
here in oregon and california, washington, nevada and so forth. one thing that is easy to pop over is the incredible value of the colorado system. the folks that put together should be commended. there are many who find fault with how the colorado was developed. i reference the book "science be damned." an interesting book. one that does monday morning quarterbacking. can we imagine what will be happening in california and other places benefited by the systems? one of the things -- i have a water lawyer. i spent thousands of hours involved in all types of water negotiation, water litigation,
2:14 pm
dam relicensing, never ending negotiations over impossible circumstances of zero-sum games of allocating water and being involved in the columbia river treating negotiations with canada. -- treaty negotiations with canada. this hearing is so welcome. i wish it was not -- it wasn't such a period of theory he may not have more water to deal with and will probably have less. i don't anticipate right through today. i expect a continuation of the processes that were referenced, the dcps and other tools to allocate water. i want to thank the folks that will testify today in advance of their testimony. i look forward to a productive conversation.
2:15 pm
i yield back. >> i understand the chair of the full natural resources committee, who has been a great leader on these issues, is with us to provide an opening statement. chairman, you are recognized for five minutes. >> just a quick comment. thank you for the hearings. vital discussion your committee is not overlooking. we all appreciate that. all of us that represent that region appreciate that very much. i want to associate myself with their opening comments, mr. chairman. i think we need a comprehensive initiative and that is where we will deal with the colorado river and the mega drought. your point about israel -- i think is really important.
2:16 pm
you mentioned the watershed that is so vital. that means protection as well. particularly around the grand canyon. i appreciate this hearing very much. what we packed into reconciliation dealt with additional resources to deal with the question at hand here. i have dealt with significant resources that settled -- to create settlements with indian nations regarding water and to be able to have resources for infrastructure for tribal nations and to be able to create viable communities themselves. i appreciate it, mr. chairman, and i yield back. >> thank you, chair grijalva. the first panel will feature
2:17 pm
federal and tribal government witnesses. i would remind not administrative -- not in ministry does witnesses -- witnesses may refer to their hearing invitation materials for further information on that. under our rules, please limit oral statements to five minutes. your entire statement will appear in the hearing record. when you begin speaking the timer will start counting down. it will turn orange when you have one minute left. i recommend members and witnesses joining remotely use the grid view in webex so you can lock the timer on your screen. after your testimony is complete, mute yourself to avoid inadvertent background noise. i will allow all witnesses to testify before we begin questioning. we will first hear testimony from ms. tonya trujillo from the
2:18 pm
department of interior. the chair recognizes ms. trujillo to testify for five minutes. do we have assistant secretary trujillo? let me just ask our staff if we are having some kind of technical difficulty. assistant secretary, i believe you are muted. you will not be the first offender in that regard. if you could unmute yourself, we would love to hear from you.
2:19 pm
thank you for your patience, folks, while we figure out why we don't have audio for the assistant secretary. while we try to -- do we have her now? >> [indiscernible] mr. chairman, can you hear me? >> yes. >> hi. thank you. >> you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you for your patience. i am tonya trujillo, assistant secretary at the department of the interior. i am honored to be a part of this panel today with some of our tribal partners regarding the ongoing drought in the colorado river basin.
2:20 pm
it is significant that the governors representated -- representative will be testifying as well. we have a proven track record over the recent decade of being able to find ways to adapt to the changing conditions we are facing. it will be essential for us to work together to develop additional innovative agreements to address the ongoing challenges. climate change is real. we have seen the effect of climate change in the colorado river basin every day. the effects include extended drought, extreme temperatures, extensive wildfires, and in some places flooding and landslides affecting our communities and environment. now is the time to take innovative action to respond to this. the department of the interior is committed to addressing the challenges of climate change in
2:21 pm
the colorado river basin by utilizing science-based strategy and working cooperatively with a diverse community that relies on the river. we are working with our sister agencies, tribes and local entities to respond to the drought throughout the west. in january -- since january, we have provided funding to over 220 different projects around the west. we were able to reprogram $100 million to be able to respond to drought conditions we are seeing through various programs we have available. they include improvements to infrastructure and continued drought contingency planning efforts. we received additional funding through the relief bill. we are working to get the funding out to the local and tribal communities as soon as possible. we appreciate congress's
2:22 pm
continued support on these issues. october 1 marked the beginning of the new water year across the west. we are grateful for a report of initial snows and some of the states, some of the areas. we know we are going to be starting out at a deficit, with challenging water supply conditions in many of the states facing situations significantly below average. the colorado river basin, lake powell and lake mead are at historically low levels. on october -- august 16, we announced the operating conditions for next year. we announced the first shortage in the lower basin. we have worked collaboratively to plan ahead for these conditions but we know we can do more.
2:23 pm
interior will work to utilize the best available science and technical expertise and work collaboratively to help inform our decisions and work with our partners on our collective decision-making in the basin. we will continue to support traditional investments to water infrastructure, including new technology and always emphasizing the need for continued collaboration on how we can best be able to meet the needs of the community and allow them to utilize federal resources we have available. the testimony we will hear today will highlight the challenges we face in many of our areas around the colorado river basin. we know to address the challenges we will urgently need to build upon the tools we have in the work we have done.
2:24 pm
that work helped us conserve water, protect the environment, preserve our hydropower resources, and operate infrastructure efficiently. the progress we have made has been accomplished through the strong partnerships we have with the states, with the tribes, with the water users and communities throughout the basin. we look forward to that continued coordination in the future. thank you for recognizing the importance of this issue and for holding this hearing today. i would be happy to follow up with any answers. thank you very much. >> thank you, assistant secretary trujillo. i will now call upon congresswoman tracy leisure fernandez to introduce the next witness. >> thank you so much for giving me this opportunity for participating in this important hearing and introduce the next witness. i'm really excited that two constituents from my district
2:25 pm
into mexico are testifying today. tonya trujillo, thank you for your testimony. and mr. darrell v hill -- vejil. i have known for decades. he is the water admit is rated for the nation, and among many roles he is the cofacilitator for the water and tribes initiative in the colorado river basin, chairman of water is life partnership. he is truly a leader for communities seeking long-term water sustainability and equity. thank you so much for being here today. we look forward to your testimony. >> you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman and other members of the subcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to testify about the drought situation in the western united states.
2:26 pm
i can't go on further without acknowledging my representative, a decade-long friend. my friend, melanie stansberry, and my friend and fellow mexican, assistant sect -- new mexican, assistant secretary trujillo. it is nice to hear you and thank you for that acknowledgment. thank you, chairman, for the opening statement as well. i am here presenting this to you from durango, colorado, at fort lewis college. you may or may not know it has enrollment of over 30% of native american students. a pretty special place to be yet and be able to provide this to you. i will paraphrase my testimony since i know it takes seven minutes to read the whole thing.
2:27 pm
i'm a member of the apache nation and also of zia pueblo dissent. my tribe has significant water rights in the colorado river basin and i have the honor of being my water administrator. i think my president, a legislative council for continuing to trust and empower me to speak on behalf of this nation in terms of something that absolutely is important to my tribe, our water rights. and the spiritual value of our water rights. again, we say this with the backup of understanding this conversation is vital and important and we are considering this moment in time, not only with the situation with climate, geopolitical conversations going on.
2:28 pm
this is not only about the importance of the tribe. it's important to the entire basin, the 30 sovereigns of the basin and this country as a whole. i will talk a little about the past, present and future role of tribes and the caller whatever --colorado river basin. tribes and federal and state governments need to be at the decision-making table. tribes have seeded water rights to 25% of the flow of the river and have been excluded from decision-making long after decisions have been made. it is my hope the attention and action of this committee represents the beginning of a new chapter in the management of the colorado river in which tribes are treated with the same dignity and respect and responsibility as other sovereigns in the basin. it is important to understand tribes have lived sustainably in
2:29 pm
the basin for a millennia and continue to do so today. despite other majors challenges -- mother nature's challenges. we have experienced thousands of years of sustainable and adaptive living. we understand the importance of honoring the very things that keep us alive, that fetus and quench our thirst. -- feed us and quench our thirst . we are at a pivotal moment in time. 100 years since the colorado river compact. it's important to understand where my tribe was at that time. , in 1887, our reservation was established. we survived on government rations outside of our
2:30 pm
traditional homeland. government tried to make us farmers and ranchers on lands that did not support those activities. we did not establish a government structure on my organization until the -- -- nearly 100 years after the colorado river compact in 1992, early years of tribal settlements. as has been mentioned before, there is a lot of conversation about, how do we get inclusive with tribes, how do we make tribes part of this process? the current structures do not allow for any of that. i want a way of creating something, and we do not have to re-create the wheel in terms of a model. we have similar components of
2:31 pm
what could be built in the future. given the amount of tribal water rights the tribes have and the commitment, the thousands of years we have lived here, the current structure does not account for that. absolutely something can be built, and those tribal voices need to be heard and included also other voices that have not been traditionally integrated into that, so we build a future that, together in the basin, would be really unique in terms of transforming the federal tribal sovereign relationships. i really appreciate the time today. and i ask you to look at my testimony because i go into the specifics, not only about what the division is that my nation has in terms of how we can participate but also links to the work we have done in the basin, to really build on the collaborative effort. chair huffman: appreciate that.
2:32 pm
thank you so much for sharing that. finally, we will hear from chairwoman emily a fluorescent -- amelia flores of the colorado indian river tribes. chairwoman, you are recognized for five minutes. ms. flores: i am the chairwoman of the colorado indian river tribes. i appreciate the invitation to testify today on behalf of my people about the drought and its impacts on the colorado river. that is the namesake of our sovereign government. i also want to thank the chairman for his work forgetting our la paz lands returned, and his support for all native people in tribal government. the colorado river indian reservation is separated by more than 70 miles of the colorado river range or lands, located in california and arizona. we have the right to divert
2:33 pm
719,000 acre, currently using over 300,000 acres, the same amount used by the state of nevada. since time and memorial, the river has sustained us. i am here to tell you that we are committed to helping to support the river that has provided for us, and we have water to offer for this effort. the colorado river is suffering, not only from drought but climate change that is forcing all of us to change our relationship with this water. we must use this water more efficiently and ensure that each drop provides maximum benefits so that others are not cut off entirely. this will require new and improved water delivery infrastructure, especially on tribal reservations, including ours. we have received funding from the water smart program and usda
2:34 pm
program to make improvements to the federal irrigation project and our farmlands. but the needs greatly exceed the capacity of these programs and our ability to require the provided 50% -- required 50% matching funds. with creative partnerships, we have started to make up for the lack of federal investments in the irrigation project. the committee's inclusion of $150 million in the reconciliation proposal to assist tribal governments addressing the drug will greatly help us and other tribes -- addressing the drought will greatly help us in other tribes. we hold the senior water rights for the lower basin entered the largest single user of the water from the colorado river in arizona. our water right was quantified by the u.s. supreme court in the arizona versus california decision, which has a priority date of 1865 and is not likely
2:35 pm
to be shortened. despite the challenges our tribe faces, we are providing help to the rest of the lower basin through the drought contingency plan, which was authorized by legislation approved by this committee. the colorado river indian tribes are creating more than 150,000 acre-feet of water for lake mead, system conservation. this water and our ics contributions since 2016 have raised the water levels in the lake by more than three feet. in addition, we have been working with the state of arizona, environmental leaders, and the water users to develop a legislative proposal that will authorize us to lease our water to other users in the state. this is the same right that congress has authorized for other tribal governments in arizona and across the west. because our water rights were
2:36 pm
adjudicated by the supreme court, congress has not acted on them and we lack the authority to lease water because of the prohibitions in the 300-year-old indian trade and intercourse act. without the right to lease our water, we can do little to directly assist communities in the arizona or our neighbors on the river who may face drastic water shortages in the coming years. we have worked with stakeholders in the state of zona for over five years to develop -- state of arizona for over five years to provide the same sovereign rights over our water that other tribal governments have. our proposed legislation will how -- help make arizona more water resilient and will provide our tribe with the financial resources to fund improvements to the irrigation project so that our water use may become
2:37 pm
efficient. greater efficiency on our reservation means we can do more to help the river. the colorado river indian tribes are committed to working with the united states to support on river habitat, including providing more water and land for endangered species protection. our legislative proposal will also permit us to lease secure water supplies to third parties, including municipalities on the river and those served by the c.a.p. that are facing shortages. this may reduce the demand for groundwater pumping that is not sustainable in arizona. our first priority water right can be diverted directly from the colorado river with little to no risk of reducing -- reduction during shortages and will limit the need for new or additional water delivery infrastructure. leasing our water for off
2:38 pm
reservation use does include a cost for us. if you visit our reservation, you will see more than 10,000 acres of our farmland sitting shallow. a reminder that our people have chosen to protect the health of the river. our legislative proposal will only allow leasing of water we have consumptive leaves on the reservation for at least four of five recent years. this will keep the river and all other water users whole. we are simply requesting the right to decide for ourselves how to best use our water because we do not have this right today. it is an honor to be here today, and i thank you for inviting me. i will submit written testimony and am pleased to answer any questions you might have. thank you. chair huffman: appreciate that, chairwoman flores. let me remind everybody of the
2:39 pm
five-minute limit on questions. i will recognize members, starting with myself. chair flores, i would like to begin with you, please. thanks again for joining us. i appreciate the conversation about how your tribe is committed to providing the colorado river the same support it has provided us, in your words, for so long, and you continued by talking about how your tribe will support water users through leases that strengthen the help of the colorado river. so i have no doubt about your commitment here and appreciate your comments. but i do want to follow-up up on that subject and just ask about nepa, national environmental policy act, an important environment of protections and federal law which highlights the environmental impact of any proposed action and develops alternatives that can chosen to avoid or limit harmful environmental impacts and
2:40 pm
unintended consequences. i just want to as, as you develop and refine legislation on water leasing, will you support the preservation of a nepa protection and other environment of protections in a manner similar to what has been done with other tribal water leases in arizona and elsewhere? ms. flores: thank you for your question. yes, we will follow all the requirements that other tribes have been imposed with. chair huffman: ok, thank you for that. i want to also ask about the math problem we have on the colorado river. as you know, we have legal entitlements that add up to 17.5 million acre-feet of water every year, and with global warming and in more modern assessment of the hydrology of the basin, we may only be able to deliver
2:41 pm
something much less than that. i am hearing may be 12.3 million acre-feet. so given our math problem, i want to ask how you view the idea of prioritizing system conservation in future water leases and prioritizing other actions that can help us reduce overall consumption and address this systemic shortage. ms. flores: when you repeat that question again? that was a long question. chair huffman: i will not repeat the whole thing. you know we have an imbalance in terms of the entitlements that far exceed what we now understand the hydrology of the basin will provide, so i just want to ask how you view the idea of prioritizing conservation in future water leases and actions i can help us reduce overall consumption. ms. flores: ok, our proposed legislation -- thank you for the question -- our proposed legislation only permits us to lease water we have been using
2:42 pm
already on our reservation. so we are required to use consumptive use to make water available in a lease. chair huffman: thank you. in the time i have left, i just have a couple of quick questions for assistant secretary trujillo . ms. trujillo, i want to start with large-scale water recycling. we are seeing some very promising collaboration in that regard. this is a drought proof water supply, that we have historically done on a smaller scale, but with these larger scale projects, we can actually provide supply for millions of people. i want to ask you where that fits into our planning and our future on the colorado river basin. ms. trujillo: ok, thank you. we have a system for unmuting. water recycling is a very
2:43 pm
important component of our portfolio in the new authorization proposed in the infrastructure passage will be very helpful. i think it represents a good opportunity to continue that collaboration that we have seen in other states, continue to partner between the federal government and the local entities who are doing so much on the ground, and we're going to have to do conservation in every state going forward to help continue to address this. thank you for thinking proactively about that issue. chair huffman: thank you. in the limited time i have left, could you speak quickly about salton sea restoration, why is this important not just for california but for other basin states? ms. trujillo: thank you for recognizing the importance of that. i formerly lived and worked in california and tilt with this issue firsthand -- and dealt with this issue firsthand. i met as recently as yesterday
2:44 pm
with representatives from the district. salton sea helps create stability with respect to interactions in the california, which helps create stability with the other states and with our government. it was great to seek support from the representatives in arizona recently for additional salton sea funding and support, and i know the upper basin states have reached out and supported those efforts, as well. so i think there is a recognition of the importance in very broad sense. chair huffman: thank you very much. representative, i see you back on the screen. are you ready to go? you are recognized. >> thank you, mr. chair. madam assistant secretary, the situation, i know you are familiar with it, has led this year to a choice between
2:45 pm
in-stream interests on the one hand and farmers on the other. here in the colorado, we see -- we can see the same situation approaching. i think it has only been through incredible amounts of hard work i folks in that basin to avoid such a stark choice. but let's assume the worst, and i hate to do so, but when it comes to the future, there are endangered species on the colorado. tell us, if you will, what you think the outcome would be if it came down to the four endangered species on the colorado come on the one hand, and the stream water users on the other. will the same thing happen on the colorado that has happened on the klamath? ms. trujillo: thank you for that question.
2:46 pm
as you noted, we have had tremendous challenges in the klamath basin. i know we have been in close coordination with your office, and i know how important the issues are to you. and i think you know we have been working very hard to try to balance several competing demands for insufficient water supplies. we saw the worst drought ever this past year, and it was a horrible situation to be in. the colorado river basin can be a good model for continued coordination, including with respect to these kinds of -- to the endangered species challenges. there are three different recovery programs in the basin that have a wide range of support from the water users, from the environmental community, from the tribes, from our federal team, as well. so we have strong records to be building some in the basin, and i think it is a good model that we can use in other contexts, as
2:47 pm
well. appreciate being part of these conversations. >> thank you, madam secretary. i just want to say thank you for the work the bureau has done in trying to help in an extraordinarily difficult situation. what i am really trying to call out though is the very high probability that we are going to see this happen again and again as we look into this very word or short future. what i am hoping that we will be able to do is address the endangered species act in a way i think you kind of alluded to when you said people are working together to try to figure out how to make these things work. the kind of all or nothing that we see in the klamath when it comes to water i do not think is the proper future. i think the proper future is one
2:48 pm
where we figure out a way of trying to make sure everybody gets something in these situations as opposed to cutting everybody off, as did happen in the klamath. i bring this up because people are suffering so greatly from this. the damage -- even notwithstanding your best efforts in trying to help people out, so i am just saying that i welcome this conversation today because i see the same thing coming on the colorado that we had to deal with in the klamath this year. i am so wishing we do not have to deal with it again, and forgive me for going on like this, but it is such an important thing to people in my area. not only my area but the central valley project of california. i will shifted over to child -- to chairwoman flores. you mentioned that the colorado river indian tribes have worked with state whole ash stakeholders in the state of arizona for over five years, developing proposed legislation.
2:49 pm
what, in your opinion, are the major barriers to actually having that bill happen? ms. flores: the major barriers for our legislation bill is to get everybody on the same page, and we have done that. we have been, over the past five years, having meetings and having a voice. and not having a voice was one of the barriers. so now we do have a voice. and stakeholders and other entities are recognizing us, and they see our water and our first priority water rights, and they see that we have been participating in the pilot program following our lands.
2:50 pm
and we have been committed and have held our end of the bargain by keeping the water in lake mead, with the pilot program, and also with the bcp. we were welcomed to join in and be a part of the solution and not a hindrance in saving the river. again, the river has always taken care of us, we need to take care of this river. and i think that that would -- there are many other barriers, but that was one of the main barriers, that we were not recognized, our water allocations were not recognized in viewing and seeing all the shortages. so we have something to offer. thank you. rep. bentz: thank you for that.
2:51 pm
sadly, i did not have my clock on. do i have time for another question? chair huffman: you are a minute, 18, into the red. rep. bentz: so the answer is no. [laughs] chair huffman: unfortunately. we can come back. thinking, ranking -- thank you, ranking member bentz. everyone in the basin and every interest has been suffering, and the downstream communities i represent and the species that you alluded to are also getting hammered. there are no big winners in this drought condition, so i did want to make that point. the chair will not recognized mr. costa for five minutes. mr. costa: thank you for holding this important hearing. i think -- and you know i have
2:52 pm
historically been involved with this from my days in the state legislature, chairman of the ag and water committee or the precious water resource we all depend upon i think will be one of the most pressing challenges we face in the 21st century with climate change, not only for western states but for our entire country and the world. it ultimately will determine whether or not we are chemically -- amicably able to live in support an increased population, not only in our country but around the world. let me remind come and i think most of you know, part of the challenge for the colorado river, a river that was litigated for decades, when the final allocation was resolved with the law of the river, it allocated 7.5 million acre-feet of water to upper basin states, seven point 5 million acre-feet to lower basin states, including arizona, california, nevada. an additional 1.5 million acre-feet to mexico.
2:53 pm
it was determined back then, in the 1960's, that the average yield was about 16.4 million acre-feet per year. the fact of the matter is is that that was over allocated. we know that today. it is estimated that water flows over the last two decades have continued to decline, averaging 12.4 million acre-feet. so we have oversubscribed the river, and that is part of the challenge here. and the native americans and the nationstates that are represented here clearly have an important requirement that they be afforded their water rights, as well. and we have folks that have determined that they have rights to the river that have yet to be resolved, and that is on top of what has already been determined to be allocated. so we have more demand. and guess what, since the 1960's, all the southwestern states, upper basin and lower
2:54 pm
basin states, are growing and have more demands on that water, whether we're talking about new mexico, arizona, nevada, california, colorado, and so how we deal with this conundrum with climate change is really the issue at hand. so i have gone long and want to ask my question towards ms. trujillo. we have to use all the water tools in our water toolbox. in the california, we get water from a number of different sources, but one of the primary sources is the colorado river basin. ms. trujillo, how does federal investment in water infrastructure, including improving helping california and the western states become more resilient to climate change impacts on our water supplies? ms. trujillo: thank you.
2:55 pm
thank you, congressman. the muting comes from your guys, so we got it figured out. thank you. rep. costa: as long as the chairman gives me the two seconds you were muted. [laughter] chair huffman: that is pretty generous. ms. trujillo: thank you, representative costa, for your leadership on these issues. from the federal perspective, the investment absolutely makes a difference with respect to the water supplies. there is a strong connection between the stability we are seeking to achieve in the colorado river basin and the other systems to provide for california. that is a clear recognition. our infrastructure proposals include investments in modernizing the aging infrastructure that we have and developing more water recycling and more innovative technologies to more efficiently use water
2:56 pm
and basic investments and the conifers that -- conservation throughout the basin. rep. costa: and i know you have your interagency drought relief working group and the national partnership as part of the water sub cabinet meeting, and we in california, with our multiple sources, are looking at ways, working with the chairman, to better reinforce our own conveyance of some of these and provide ability to reduce the amount of trends of operation through the use of solar power and other means. because to the degree we can use these conservation tools not only to improve our species but improve water for our farms and farm communities with these extreme drought conditions, we will talk more about the money, but i think in the next hearing, i would like to know how you are going to do this sub cabinet effort to allocate these funds and how we can work with you so
2:57 pm
all the states impacted by the colorado river, including california, can participate in the allocation of these funds, because they are so desperately needed. i want to thank you, chairman and the subcommittee chairman, on the greater reconciliation period, we were able to add another $500 million for drought purposes, and this is all important as we work through this. chair huffman: i thank the gentleman. i am now told that representative gonzales cologne will go next. you are recognized. >> thank you, chairman, for allowing me. i have -- first of all, i want to say thank you to the witnesses for bringing this issue. knowing what is happening in other parts of the states are important. all of us have our problems, and i think the witnesses have
2:58 pm
illustrated things that can be achieved by working together. and i want to say thank you, but i want to yield my time to ranking member bentz. rep. bentz: thank you so much for that yield. and i will make sure that i only utilize two and half minutes and give my overreach back to the chair. the question, back to secretary trujillo for just a moment, many in the basin states noted the need to continually improve the system marbling tools. what is the recommendation for doing in that regard? are you working on design of better tools to try to tell us what we can anticipate and what we will do should further shortfalls occur? ms. trujillo: thank you,
2:59 pm
representative. we absolutely are continuing to work to develop the best available information that we can utilize for our own decision-making but also to have available for the communities and the water managers around the west, including in the colorado river basin. we have worked closely with our other federal agencies, the weather service, the forecast center to be able to have alignment in the information we are providing. we have excellent technical staff at recreation who strive to communicate very effectively with the affected folks that are working on these issues. rep. bentz: thank you for that. with that, mr. chair, i am going to yield back, and i hope now we are even and i will stick within my five minutes the next time around. and thanks again for the yield. the yield. rep. huffman: i think the gentleman and order is restored.
3:00 pm
that is much appreciated. i believe mr. soto is next on our side. the gentleman from florida is recognized. rep. soto: thank you, so much, mr. chairman. we are very proud of the $8.3 billion in the build back better act to help with western water issues, and, chairman, i noticed you needed extra time, so i wanted to yield to you. rep. huffman: i wish you would yield some of your water to california, but -- rep. soto: whenever you want to find that cross-country pipeline, we have more than we want. rep. huffman: there are still people that talk about that kind of thing. i don't think it is ever going to be feasible him a that i
3:01 pm
appreciate the thought. i do not have further questions in this round. rep. soto: then i yelled to mr. costa. rep. huffman: mr. costa, you are recognized. rep. costa: thank you very much. i would like to get back to the area we were discussing earlier. in the fiscal appropriations for 2022, we have water-related resources at $1.7 billion-plus, and that not only deals with the president's request, but additional funding from fiscal year 2021. the total comes to $1.95 billion when you add the numbers up, then the bipartisan infrastructure bill would add to that another $3.5 billion, 1.5. -- $1.5 billion for water
3:02 pm
storage. i hope we could use some of those funds to do with the challenges we have in california and repair projects that are identified under reclamation's management report. and then for local communities. we have so many communities, whether they are native american or rural, whose drinking does not meet the role standards. how quickly do you think we are going to get that money out? that does not mention the reconciliation money i spoke of earlier. i don't know how much that is going to be, depending on what happens with reconciliation, obviously, what is the strategy the bureau has for dealing with getting these moneys out as quickly as possible where it is most needed? i think you are muted again. ms. trujillo: thank you very much for the support from congress on these important
3:03 pm
issues, and the short answer is that they are building upon our existing programs, so we have a very efficient way of getting the additional funding out to the community. we are building upon the programs we have. we have backlogs, we have additional requests for funding that we can easily cycle into. i think that was working in coordination by design for how some of this came together. rep. costa: part of that -- and the bureau obviously has its challenges, to be sure, but when we worked on the settlement agreement we allowed under that legislation that was signed into law the ability for the bureau to work with local water districts under the thought that they might be able to facilitate the implementation of funding in a more expedited fashion than the bureau could.
3:04 pm
you look at different ways in which you can deal with local agencies to facilitate getting these -- expediting these funds? ms. trujillo: we are always looking for ways to be more efficient. i think since january we have already figured out how to allocate funding to over 200 districts throughout the west. rep. costa: native american groups as well, frankly. ms. trujillo: absolutely. we have expanded our technical support programs, and we have prioritized the ability to efficiently work with them in coordination with our other partners here at interior, the bureau of indian affairs, the fish and wildlife service. we are trying to be as efficient as possible. rep. costa: my time has almost expired, but i don't know if we can do it, but i think it would be helpful for this subcommittee
3:05 pm
-- the full committee, frankly -- get an idea of what is to be expected in terms of what has been allocated in the next fiscal year that can be moved out, and in the next several years. that would be helpful for all of us. chair huffman: the gentleman's time has expired. the chair recognizes ms. stansberry for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you for convening today's important hearing, and take you to our witnesses for joining us today. i'm especially proud to see so many new mexicans here, as i often say, mexico's exports are been chilly and our water experts, of which we have many here today. it is so great to have you all here today. as we know, el lago es la vita. it is our economy and the future of our state.
3:06 pm
secretary to hilo, we are proud of having you representing new mexico, and mr. b hilo -- mr. vigil, we are proud. we are joined by mr. d'antonio. as a fellow new mexico water nerd, i am excited to have you all here today and talk about the colorado river and all our crucial watersheds in the west. as we know our rivers and communities have been gripped across the west by a drought, but our communities are no strangers to water scarcity as our tribes have lived on these lands since time immemorial, and land-grant communities have shared waters across many generations. but it is clear that what we are seeing today is part of a much larger trend of a changing climate. as temperatures are getting harder, our snowpack is declining and we are seeing fundamental changes in our hydrologic system.
3:07 pm
nowhere is this more visible than new mexico, where our communities have faced historic drought conditions at the same time that our state has had the largest number of disaster declarations to flooding and wildfires this year. it is clear, karma changes here, and it is threatening the ability of our communities to bring water to our fields, to meet the needs of our tribes and pueblos, our farmers, ranchers, and rivers, which depend on these life-giving waters. while the colorado river is being strained, we also are seeing historic partnerships in the basins, led by many of the panelists joining us here today, that are helping to bring transformational change to the management of this system. these partnerships are crucial not only to the communities in the colorado river, but to the el grande basin, which depends on water transfers from the
3:08 pm
colorado to meet the needs of our communities and endangered species. as we look to the future and managing these river systems in a time of climate change, we need to continue to leverage these collaborative partnerships to invest in the best monitoring and technology we can, to invest in modernizing our infrastructure and operational requirements, and ensure our communities have a seat at the table and are helping to direct the decisions made about those water systems. i believe our job as lawmakers is to make sure that we are putting into place all of the changes necessary to empower our communities by passing transformational water policies, working to protect our tribes and pueblos, trust in treaty responsibilities and water rights, investing in our water management agencies, investing in infrastructure, and bipartisan -- and investing in
3:09 pm
our water, signs, and technology, and protecting those rivers. that is our charge as public servants and caretakers of these sacred waters. with that, mr. chairman, i would like to use my remaining time to ask secretary screw here -- the secretary, could you please show -- and share with us what you think congress can do to lift up the best of these collaborative watershed efforts and what we can do to support your work? >> thank you, representative stansberry. it makes me homesick to see you there in santa fe, or new mexico. i think the work that congress is doing through the bipartisan infrastructure package is a great example of how that helps us to do exactly what you mentioned in your remarks.
3:10 pm
it allows us to improve our infrastructure, it allows us to do more recycling, to do more water planning and contingency planning efforts and support the existing programs we have. i think the underlying emphasis on sound science is exactly the way we want to continue to be doing business in the colorado river basin. rep. stansbury: thank you so much. i see, mr. chairman, i am out of time, what i just want to say i am really grateful that we have mr. vigil here today, who is such an incredible resource, and make sure our tribes have a seat at the table as we are protecting our water rights for our communities moving forward. we are grateful to have you here today as well. thank you so much. chair huffman: thank you. we are going to continue this new mexico thread here by recognizing congresswoman
3:11 pm
fernandez. >> are you getting an echo? chair huffman: i love the sound of your voice, but we are hearing it twice. [indiscernible] >> is this better? chair huffman: yeah, the audio. it sounds pretty clear. go right ahead. water is life. earlier this year i did a tour in my district. i heard from farmers and many more. at each stop local leaders told me about the impact of water supplies and the climate crisis has on their communities. something that resonated is the
3:12 pm
importance of people of tribes being talked to before things happen. we seize water from the colorado. they noted they were never consulted when the dam was being planned and constructed. they noted how the dams operation negatively impacted their irrigation canals and structures. they just weren't part of the conversation. as to vigil, and your testimony you talked about an idea. he named it the sovereign governance team. you thought it was important that this be created. can you give us a short synopsis of what a sovereign governance team looks like? what do you want us to do? what should it look like, this consultation? did i give meet again?
3:13 pm
-- go mute again? chair huffman: no, it wasn't you, representative, it was me. i'm sorry. mr. vigil: thank you so much for the acknowledgment. it is really important to understand that right now there is no formal institutionalized inclusion of the 30 tribal sovereigns into the policymaking process as it exists. we have to rely on either our state sovereignty or federal sovereignty to represent our water interests. we really build a foundation of understanding, i think particularly in the colorado river basin, in terms of the need for tribes to be at that sovereign table with the federal government and the state sovereign to make policy for the future of the colorado river, because the current policy is not inclusive of that. no matter how much you want to engage in the conversation of
3:14 pm
inclusion, the structure does not allow for that right now. we are talking about drought and drought response. yes, we can be part of that conversation. it is in our dna about how to live sustainably and how to practice adaptive management, but for us to be able to participate meaningfully as we should, you know, there needs to be a structure for engagement, and there is not one that exists now. why not use the template of something that was already created and seems to have worked to a large extent, in terms of creating a table for sovereigns to engage? this will do a number of things in terms of policy in the colorado river, we can start thinking about a culture and behaviors of dealing with a resource and how we are going to equitably apportion that resource. rep. leger fernandez: thank you very much. i wanted to get two quick questions in. as you know, the navajo supply
3:15 pm
project runs through my congressional district. it helps the apache nation and other surrounding communities. i'm going to put this together with other pipelines, because what we have is, as pipelines and finishing them has been delayed and we don't have the authorized level that is needed, we no longer have enough money. i wanted to ask you -- if you and the bureau would be committed to work with me and the apache nation, the navajo nation on amendments to authorization so we can take advantage -- not take advantage, we can make sure we recognize the true costs, and also we are going to have to make sure there is additional groundwater wells to supply communities until the project is complete. i am hoping you will be open to working with us on getting that done.
3:16 pm
>> thank you. that project is near and dear to my heart and i have been working on it closely for over 15 years. we will be very happy to make sure your staff and yourself are aware of all of the progress we have been making, and we have been working very closely with folks there in the region, at the navajo nation, and in the local communities to think creatively about how to make sure we can complete the effective components of the program. we would be happy to work with technical support with your office and others to make sure that we can make any adjustments that may be needed, but i was happy to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony, and i'm looking forward to being able to be in the lessing ceremony.
3:17 pm
that portion of the pipeline has been completed. the manager has done a great job of that construction and it is currently providing water to the community -- communities who did not have it previously. it is a great example of the commitment from the bureau of reclamation and department of the interior of providing needs in our various communities and in our home state of new mexico. chair huffman: thank you. the chair now recognizes the chairman of the full committee, the representative from arizona. >> first of all, thank chair florez for her comments and her kind remarks. very much appreciated. the chairwoman knows all of us very much aware of the
3:18 pm
significant contributions the tribe made to accomplishing that portion of the drought contingency plan. many thank you's. let me follow-up or something that chairman hoffman was asking. the comments you hear about, you throw out nepa, if you throughout other environmental protections that the drought will be resolved. that is not true. that is not even a false choice, it is just not true. i ask this because i think it is important about utilization and usage going forward. as you put together, as you and the council put together the
3:19 pm
proposal, is the lease going to prioritize water leases that help deal with the deficit we have at the colorado river? is that the primary focus of it? is your prerogative to put in there what you want, madam chair? i respect that, but my question is, is that something that is a consideration? chair huffman: do we have the chairwoman? >> thank you for the question. we won our sovereignty protected to use our water as we decide. right now we do not have that authority, to use the water and we are seeking to lease our water. we can only use our water on our
3:20 pm
lands, our farmlands. but our tribal members decided in the referendum that they do not want to make multigenerational commitments for new development. we are finally free from the long term land leases and do not want our water to be committed in the same way. we are committed to saving the river and helping our neighbor'' overall environment. you want the authority to decide for ourselves how to use our water, which is the same authority of other tribes in arizona have. rep. grijalva: i respect that. trust me, i respect that, but in this legislative process i get to a question i think is inevitable. i think further discussion with chairman hoffman and i, and we have with your leadership and
3:21 pm
yourself, madam chair. thank you for what you are doing for arizona, and thank you for your kind comments. appreciate it. ms. flores: thank you. why is that resolution -- rep. grijalva: we need that resolution to quantify the water rights for the tribes not only for ourselves but for the whole basin. talk about that. mr. vigil: that was more of a statement than a question, but that is pretty obvious. those have to be closed. can you hear? chair huffman: mr. vigil, you
3:22 pm
are muted. mr. vigil: sorry about that. i'm very sorry. incredibly good question in terms of the tribes in the basin who do not have quantified or have not settled their water rights yet. in terms of the structural deficit that is going on, the supply/demand imbalance, it becomes a part of the conversation because, where's that water going to come from in that particular climate? it has a right to water for domestic use, even paramount to just a settlement. it becomes important that we start to start to recognize not only those tribal rights that are quantified, but those that are unquantified. because those have to be included in the conversation. rep. grijalva: certainty is the key you used. this is critical to that for the basin.
3:23 pm
if i may, one question for mr. true -- ms. trujillo. we have heard from the tribal nations about meeting at the table. that is absolutely correct. with 25% of the resources they have to be at the table not only proportionately, but with equity. but in the past the tables have been dominated by users whose interests are more on the business/commercial side. not only the integration of tribes, and how we created a balance in the future management plans after 2026, how can we create that balance? >> first you have to acknowledge -- rep. grijalva: this is for ms. trujillo.
3:24 pm
>> i'm sorry. ms. trujillo: thank you. thank you, mr. chairman, and mr. vigil as well. mr. chairman, we add interior recognize the importance of involvement of our tribes and have been working very closely and through several forms -- some of them in which mr. vigil is involved. we also have a technical discussion going on with regular conversations throughout the basin's throughout our tribes, and in arizona the intertribal form about multiple opportunities for interactions. then we think going forward that we are going to have to the as inclusive as possible in all of this space with respect to the state representatives, the local communities, the nonprofit organizations, the very, very broad group of interested people
3:25 pm
who are depending on the colorado river and will need to be part of our discussions going forward. rep. grijalva: thank you. when this was created the interests of the west were different. it was a different west, and there are many different constituent forces that need to be heard in the development of those plans. thank you, mr. hoffman. chair huffman: thank you, mr. chairman. i know as mr. vigil was attempting to chime in, he was going to remind us that the columbia river basin as a potential model as an answer, i'm sure, to your question. i appreciate his testimony and everyone in our panel of federal and tribal witnesses. we are going to move on to a second panel. i would like to remind the second panel witnesses to please meet yourself when you are not speaking. of course, the flipside is, please unmute yourself when we need you to speak.
3:26 pm
we are continually reminded of that side as well. i will allow the witnesses to finish their testimony before we bring it back to members. i will introduce our second panel. today we have the governors representing the seven states of the colorado river basin with us to present testimony. we will first hear from the governor's representatives, rather. we will not have all seven governors, but we will have representatives from all seven of those governors. we will hear first from tom buschatzke, the director of the arizona department of water resources. the chair represented -- the chair acknowledges mr. buschatzke for five minutes. and you are muted, mr. buschatzke. ok, we are going to try to fix
3:27 pm
the audio. let's get this just a moment. we can have mr. peter nelson from the colorado river board of california ready on deck, if we can get the audio fixed for mr. buschatzke. mr. buschatzke: can you hear me now? chair huffman: we've got you loud and clear. mr. buschatzke: thank you before dividing an opportunity to testify today. i have submitted written testimony. a 20-year drought and climate change have had devastating impacts on the colorado river. in 2022 arizona will lose 18% of its total entitlement. impacts to agriculture, tribes, and municipal water usage will result, but arizonans have come together to provide financial resources and what water to partially mitigate those impacts. the likelihood of future, deeper cuts is high, and in 2023
3:28 pm
arizona may lose an additional 80,000 acre-feet, and mitigation for those reductions is unlikely. in august protections of lake mead doubles triggered a consultation provision in the lower basin drought contingency plan. the measures taken to date are not enough. arizona, nevada, and california are looking to do more. actions to protect lake mead fall into two categories. mandatory cuts or additional conservation. arizona's goal is conservation and greater cuts. travel and nontribal partnerships will achieve that goal. over the last two decades we have learned valuable lessons for managing the colorado river, and they include, first, the vigilant -- vigilance and monitoring the reservoir elevations. we must have data produced by the bureau of reclamation, who possess the best available science.
3:29 pm
two, achieve outcomes tacky doubly share the risks attendant to the colorado river system. three, adhere to the ethic of collaboration among the states, mexico, the united states, tribes, and other stakeholders. four, recognize we are connected from wyoming to the sea of cortez. five, incentivize actions that conserve water in lake mead. six, resources from the united states and its agencies must be tools in the toolbox. and seven, continued state participation in discussions with mexico. as i mentioned, arizona tribes are stakeholders in colorado river management. a healthy river is radical to tribal water right settlements. arizona has 11 of its 22 tribes with rights yet to be determined in full or in part. the uncertainty attached to
3:30 pm
climate change impacts to the floor of the river and to the post-2026 criteria, further complicate completion of settlements. it is important to state that those tribal claims be settled. in conclusion, droughts and climate chains are presenting challenges that are likely to increase over time. the proper planning, management, conservation, and collaboration across political jurisdictions and among stakeholders creates the greatest likelihood for success, today and in the future. i thank you again and stand ready to answer questions. chair huffman: thank you. we will now go to peter nelson. he is the california chairman of the colorado river board. mr. nelson: good afternoon. i name is peter nelson and i am the chairman of the colorado river board of california and california's colorado river commission. i would like to thank the subcommittee, chairman huffman,
3:31 pm
ranking member bentz, and the other members of the committee for holding this hearing at a time of historic drought. regardless of why the climate has changed, the record is clear, less than average precipitation is resulting in measurable aridification, putting 40 million americans at risk. the colorado river board of california represents the collective interests of colorado river water users in our state. we protect the rights and interests of california's water and hydropower resources. we provide peer-to-peer relationships and collaborative interstate discussions with the other six basin states, the federal government, tribes, and mexico. california is also seeing drought with equal and greater severity. allocations for the state water
3:32 pm
project contractors are just 5%. the department of water resources is signaling contractors to expect an initial 0% allocation, meaning a snowpack of 140% just to get normal runoff. for the first time ever orville damme is unable to produce power due to low reservoir levels. pre--1914 water rights were issued orders to stop. on the brighter side california has stepped up in 2003 with a quantification agreement to reduce colorado river uses by eight thousand acre-feet annually and includes mitigation measures for the salton sea. we achieved conservation through the 2007 shortage criteria and 2019 drought contingency plan so metropolitans have .3 million
3:33 pm
acre-feet of storage in lake mead and 14 feet of elevation. the districts have conserved the successful program with partners in arizona, nevada, and the bureau of reclamation. additionally, that metropolitan, arizona, and -- are collaborating on a large-scale recycling project in the los angeles basin. this has the potential to create 150,000 acre-foot annually of water for the region, reducing demand on the colorado river. naturally, with the largest share of colorado's river use, it will be the imperial irrigation district. imperial has already participated in the largest transfer in the country through the quantification settlement agreement. any additional water conservation programs will need to, of course, have their due
3:34 pm
diligence and need to address the salton sea mitigation. california is collaborating with our sister states in the basin. native american tribes who need access to clean and reliable water and be part of the process. federal agencies, colleagues in mexico, and developing the next set of system operating guidelines to be put in place in 2026. we are responding with all hands on deck to the re-consultation requirements under the dcp elevation triggers. we urge the committee to support and provide funding for partnerships involving regional recycling projects, system conservation programs, salton sea mitigation, and water quality improvements, including addressing reductions from the paradise valley unit. there were -- it will only be
3:35 pm
through collaboration and cooperation among all stakeholders that will have any chance of meeting these challenges, and we will need the united states involved. thank you for the opportunity to provide this statement, and i look forward to addressing any questions you may have. chair huffman: thank you, mr. nelson. the committee will now hear from mr. john entsminger, from the southern nevada water authority. you are recognized for five minutes. mr. entsminger: thank you, chairman huffman, ranking member ends, and members of the subcommittee. my name is john entsminger and i served as general manager of the southern nevada water authority. it is not news to the subcommittee that the unprecedented hydrologic conditions on the colorado river have left mea atd problem is simple. if we rely upon the promises of the 1920's and 1940's, there are
3:36 pm
legal entitlements to 17.5 million acre-feet of water each year. annual use today is approximately 14 million acre-feet, and over the last 20 years the river has given us an average of 12.3 million acre-feet. despite warnings from the scientific community that in the face of climate change we seek a future with less than 12.3 million acre-feet, is not anything approaching consensus within the community as to how dry it a future should plan for. while this panel was asked to talk about drought, there is more and more evidence on the ground that what the colorado river is facing is not drought, but a reification -- aridifi cation. if we are to build upon the rivers successes over the last
3:37 pm
25 years we must confront the magnitude of the challenge in front of us and quickly reach agreement on what future scenarios we are willing to plan for. the problem is only the first step. we must develop additional supplies, pursue aggressive conservation, and make investments in technologies and tools that show promise in helping us achieve both. the agricultural and invisible -- and municipal -- that and researches under way -- underway to test drip irrigation in arizona. but the learning is slow and the pace of engagement between urban and agricultural water users must be accelerated. as we work on our long-term goals we must also recognize that the only near-term management strategy for protecting critical lake mead elevations is reducing use. southern nevada has invested
3:38 pm
millions of dollars in infrastructure, but nevada represents 1.8% of the river's alligator -- allocated we must also develop additional supplies. metropolitans, regional reuse project, represents a long-term supply option for the basin. we continue to urge the large-scale recycling project investment act. regional projects of this kind represent the best hope for adding new supplies into the lower basin. our progress toward sustainable solutions depends on partnership and well-coordinated action. but the river community is at a crossroads. we have a simple but difficult decision to make. do we double down on the promises of the last century and fight about water that is not there, or do we roll up our sleeves and deal with the,
3:39 pm
realities this century? thank you for the opportunity to testify. i will be happy to answer any questions. chair huffman: up next is miss rebecca mitchell, the director of the colorado water conservation board. you are recognized for five minutes. ms. mitchell: thank you, chairman huffman, and members of the subcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to testify today. i am rebecca mitchell, director of the colorado water conservation board. as the direct your -- the director, how want to share my insights on the impacts of drought in colorado and upper -- an upper-basin state. the entire colorado basin has been impacted by drought. but those impacts have been felt differently in the upper basin and lower basin because of where lakes mead and powell said.
3:40 pm
both of these are above water basin uses and below up her basin uses. having these large reservoirs above them has meant the lower basin has had some certainty in their water delivery. the lower basin states have never faced shortages to the deliveries from lake mead, and will not until 2022. in contrast, the upper basin has taken shortages nearly every year for over 20 years. without that large reservoir upstream, we are reliant on current runoff from snowpack. it is for this reason that the upper basin uses are variable. when snowpack is abundant, water is available for use, but when the snow is thin, water is not there and our water users go without. a perfect example of the impact of climate change. colorado has suffered from consecutive years of low stream flows.
3:41 pm
dry, and soil conditions have increased the resorption -- the absorption of spring runoff. this year has been especially difficult. 90% of the state is currently experiencing drought during an example of the difficult situations, a major storage project in southwestern colorado that sees only 1/10 of its water allocation this year. and due to the compounding years of shortages, people across the state are considering heartbreaking decisions, like selling multigenerational family farms. these decisions have significant psychological, sociological, and economic impacts to the community. the water shortages facing colorado fell heavily on the utah mountain tribe, whose communities depend on revenues from crop production. releases made from blue mesa reference war -- two mesa
3:42 pm
reservoir also impacted the economy. there were also releases from new mexico and wyoming. dry soil conditions and warmer temperatures have also left our forests more vulnerable to fire. the summer of 2020 brought record-breaking fires, including three of the largest wildfires in colorado's history. in total over 600 50,000 acres were burned and hundreds of homes were destroyed. we are still dealing with the aftermath of those fires, including catastrophic mudslides . with little vegetation to prevent erosion, heavy rain storms brought roughly 65 -- 65,000 tons of mud down the slopes. it is important for me as
3:43 pm
commissioner of the headwater state to make sure everyone whose work impacts the colorado river understands the challenges that colorado state, particularly as we implement the 2019 drought contingency plan and consider the negotiation of the post-2026 operations of the major reservoirs. as we look forward to those negotiations one critical element will be meaningful engagement with the tribal nations in the colorado basin. speaking as colorado's commissioner, i talked to the representatives of the ute tribes regularly. i am proud to say colorado has water right settlements with both tribes. we must understand that each tribe is different, different needs, values, histories, and relationships. negotiators in each state should take the time to sit down to understand the unique positions and needs. it will also be important to
3:44 pm
recognize that since not everything can be addressed through these operational guidelines that we must also support initiatives that recognize the urgent need to ensure tribes have access to clean drinking water. in addition to supporting initiatives, providing funding for infrastructure to access clean drinking water for tribes, colorado also supports ongoing efforts to fund implementation of the drought contingency plan, investment in agricultural sustainability, and recovery programs in the upper basin, including through house resolution 5001. i have developed principles that were -- that will remain in the forefront of my mind in the upcoming negotiations. i believe those here takei -- there -- here today stand behind those goals. we must encourage the cooperation that has defined the
3:45 pm
work in the basin for 100 years. secondly, we must provide security and certainty for all. in the lower basin, upper basin, and the 40 million people who rely on this resource. we are committed to being a part of the solution that works for all of the basin. thank you, and i will be available for questions. chair huffman: thank you, miss mitchell. we will now hear from mr. john d'antonio, the state engineer for the state of new mexico. mr. d'antonio: chairman. representatives. [inaudible] chair huffman: we are not getting audio from you, unfortunately, mr. d'antonio. i do not think you are muted. let's try again. [no audio]
3:46 pm
it is pretty faint. can you try to give us a little test here? mr. d'antonio: can you hear me? chair huffman: let's keep working on that. can we come back to you, mr. d'antonio? should jump ahead to mr. gene shawcroft, general manager of the central utah water conservation district, then we will come back to mr. d'antonio and we can get a better volume level for him. mr. shawcroft, if you are with us you are recognized. mr. shawcroft: good afternoon to all. thank you for conducting this hearing. chairman huffman, ranking member vince, members of the subcommittee. my name is gene shawcroft and i share as the utah water conservation lane district -- conservancy district.
3:47 pm
the state is the sponsor of the central -- new [no audio] utah project and is also the largest diverter of colorado river water in utah. colorado river provides one third of utah's water supply and is fundamental to its prosperity. with such reliance on the river, the unprecedented drought in reservoir storage and river flows is alarming. on march 17 governor cox declared a state of emergency due to drought conditions and urge all utah lines -- utahans to use less water. over this time last year we have reached reductions as high as 32%. i have also overseen the implementation of the largest water conservation program of colorado river water in utah. section 207 of the utah project
3:48 pm
completion act statutorily requires us to conserve up to 80,000 acre-feet by 2033. we are conserving nearly 140,000 acre-feet. 50% more than one hour statutory requires. nowhere is this more important than in the colorado river basin. we know that extreme conditions like this will become more frequent, further straining a river system that is reaching a breaking point. the upper basin drought contingency plan includes a commitment by the upper division states to evaluate the feasibility of a temporary, voluntary, and compensated land management program to reduce consumptive use. in addition, a drought agreement is also being actively implemented in the upper basin. this agreement governs the release of storage water upstream of lake powell once operational adjustments have been considered.
3:49 pm
releases from these upper reservoirs are underway as we speak, as has been mentioned. also as ms. mitchell mentioned, the upper basin has routinely taken shortages which are measured by the reductions in water that is available for use by our system. like others, we face challenges in supplying water to a state with explosive growth. even as the supply diminishes. overcoming these challenges is a tall order. we must tackle it together with the inclusion of all colorado river stakeholders. utah pushed -- utah is committed to the development and use of technology to aid in forecasting and measurement of diversion, use, and depletions. one important platform using remote sensing for measurement of depletion is open et. continued congressional support of such work, especially as it shifts to the application arena, is necessary.
3:50 pm
for the use of such tools will allow more consistent demonstration -- excuse me, consistent determination of depletion across all basin states. congressional support for rural water infrastructure investment, conservation programs, outreach, education, and additional research is also critical. i grew up on a small farm in colorado. as a boy my favorite day was the day the snowmelt began and the water was turned into the canals. water in the canals meant we could eat and live comfortably. i learned early that water is finite, shared, and a common resource. when it comes to the colorado river, most effective solutions must be collaborative. each of the basin states is bound together by a common goal, which is to utilize this water resource in a responsible way that honors governing law and allows us to meet the needs and priorities of our communities.
3:51 pm
thank you, again, for the opportunity to share this information. i would be happy to answer questions. chair huffman: thank you. let's go back to mr. d'antonio and see if we can hear him now. [inaudible] mr. d'antonio: can you hear me, mr. chairman? chair huffman: yeah. mr. d'antonio, i don't know what to say. we are just not able to hear you. so, unfortunately, while we can keep trying to work on that, you're going to have to have your written testimony suffice for the time being. and if we can troubleshoot the audio i am happy to -- i'm sure we would like to include you in the questioning. given that problem, we will now hear from mr. pat tyrell, from wyoming. commissioner to the upper colorado river commission. mr. tyrrell: thank you, chairman
3:52 pm
huffman, ranking member bentz, and members of the subcommittee. am i being hurt? chair huffman: yes. you sound great. thanks for checking. mr. tyrrell: thank you. with mr. d'antonio's problem, i thought i would i am pat carroll, wyoming commission to the upper colorado river commission. thank you for providing the opportunity to present testimony today on behalf of the state of wyoming. you have heard much already about conditions at lake mead and lake powell. the drought impacts are not limited to the major reservoirs. water users in wyoming continue to experience significant water shortages due to the extremely dry conditions. we in wyoming, as in other places, rely on snowmelt. and whatever runoff is available
3:53 pm
through rivers and streams. when the water supply is not sufficient to supply all water rights, only the earliest and most senior water rights get satisfied. therefore i'm a like our other upper basin states, our users have routinely also suffered shortages, even though wyoming has developed less than two thirds of its compact apportionment under a full supply. during drought years wyoming's water use is reduced by more than 20% compared to years where water is more plentiful. these shortages get little attention and require no federal declaration, but they happen, nevertheless, and carry with them attend economic impacts. -- attendant economic impacts. collaboration will be the key to responding to drought, since before 2000 the basin states,
3:54 pm
reclamation, mexico, tribal leaders, ngos, water users, and others have collaborated to implement unprecedented innovative and proactive measures. as the challenges increase, that collaboration must not only continue, improve. we intend to continue that ordination as we develop post-2026 reservoir operating rules. however, those guidelines cannot address all of the numerous issues and impacts caused by this drought. many can only be addressed by other response measures. the upper basin will continue to implement the 2019 drought contingency plan, the principal goal of which was to ensure continued compliance with the 1922 compact. further, releasing storage from upstream federal reservoirs as turnabout for mr. shawcroft, is
3:55 pm
only a first line of defense to protect critical elevations at lake powell. existing storage is finite and cannot protect that lake under many of the scenarios now being projected. to say that the program is even feasible, any upper basin management programs still faced difficult challenges to be resolved before it can be developed and implemented. more is needed to help ensure the basin drought's resilience. most immediate needs include ensuring federal commitments under the dcp can be met, securing access to water for tribal communities, and securing authorization and long-term funding for species recovery programs. there is a real need to focus on a broad range of investments and opportunities, including water storage infrastructure, advancing large-scale augmentation, facilitating system conservation, promoting watershed health, promoting
3:56 pm
forest restoration and management, improving tag operations, and improving water supply forecasts. this extends from the headwaters in wyoming through each upper basin states and into mexico. drought response measures must equally stretch across the entirety of the basin. success will require development and implementation across federal agencies in cooperation and partnership with the basin states, tribes, water users, ngos, and other stakeholders. he is willing to engage in that collaborative effort necessary to build a sustained water resiliency throughout the basin and provide more information on the types of investments and opportunities most likely to help ensure the colorado river basin continues to support a thriving economy and healthy environment. thank you for the opportunity to testify here today.
3:57 pm
i will remain and be happy to answer any questions you or the committee may have. chair huffman: mr. tyrell, thanks very much. we are going to move on to questions from the members right now. if we can figure out the problem with mr. d'antonio's microphone, we will take them out of order and come back to him. in the meantime i'm going to recognize myself for the first set of questions. i would like to begin with mr. nelson from california. we spoke on the previous panel about the salton sea restoration. this is a partnership that is being led by the state of california, but includes tribes, local partners, environmental stakeholders and federal agencies. could you expand on why federal support of those partnerships and their restoration work is so important? not just for those living near the salton sea, but really for the larger colorado river basin community? mr. nelson: sure.
3:58 pm
thank you, mr. hoffman, for the question. it is a great question. the salton sea is historically a delta part of the colorado river. it is important to the region of southern california. first, the work being done now at the salton sea associated with continued implementation of the 2000 three settlement agreement, which resulted in nearly 500,000 acre-foot of water supply that are transferred to the coastal plain. that is an important aspect of water management in california. secondly, the sea is an element of the pacific flyway. you have the sonny bono refuge there. it houses other areas, resident and migratory bird species, which are important for ecological values.
3:59 pm
thirdly, as the inflows to the sea have decreased, medicated by usa, and increased irrigation efficiencies within the district, the exposure continues to expand and it is resulting in a significant public health threat associated with blowing dust. it is my understanding that the imperial valley contains some of the highest childhood asthma rates and this air-quality impact is a social and environmental issue that is critical to the region, not only to the imperial valley, but across southwestern arizona and eastern riverside county. finally, i would say acknowledging the commitments for collaboration and partnership contained in the
4:00 pm
august 20 16 mou between the obama administration and california. that mou committed the state and federal government for long-term coordination for a series of tasks that would be accomplished, including an initial outlay of $20 million for habitat restoration and --, and $10 million for monitoring at the scene. california suggests that this mou should be considered basically the foundation for our collaboration in the area. we have the mitigation plan that the state is working through and actually making good progress on that. >> all right. thank you, mr. nelson. in the time i have left, i would like to talk about this large-scale water recycling potential division for bringing
4:01 pm
a new drought proof source of water to this vexing shortage challenge we face in the colorado basin. could you speak a little bit about why adding something like that to the region's water supply portfolio would be so critically important? and the state of play in terms of federal support for these large-scale water recycling project? are we doing enough? should we be doing more? you have the rest of my time. >> thank you very much, chairman. first, the impact the metropolitan project has had in adding water to the system. we wanted to make that into a regional project with regional benefits. i do think more projects like that are available and as we move into the future, we really have to look at all water within
4:02 pm
this basin as water that's precious and available for use. stormwater, the wastewater that southern california is currently discharging in the pacific ocean . all of that water can be utilized to solve problems in front of us. in terms of the federal government, there is 400 $50 million contingent on the infrastructure bill that would be very good to get that across the finish line, and in the reconciliation bill, it's not just for water reclamation, but also for federal compliance with obligations with the ecp. thank you. >> thank you. i appreciate that very much. ranking member bends is up next -- bentz is up next for comment, but mr. dantonio, let's see if we can hear you.
4:03 pm
if mr. bentz is willing to stand down for a few minutes, we will come right back to you. mr. dantonio? and we can hear you, fantastic. >> ok. chairman huffman, ranking member bentz, distinguished members of the subcommittee, i am the state -- for new mexico and governor lujan grisham's representative on the colorado river impact. i am happy to be able to appear here before you regarding the current issues related to the colorado river basin. first, the shortages. in the 1922 colorado river compact, the seven colorado
4:04 pm
river basin states agreed to share the colorado river with each basin, the exclusive beneficial end use of the water per year. since 2000, the colorado river basin has entered a period of continued drought. the upper states have been taking shortages for the past two decades. in new mexico, large droughts occur annually in the basin. the major diversion project authorized by congress in 1962 to deliver san juan water to new mexico's municipalities and pablo's around the rio grande, particularly in the last decade, and is an example in 2021, we experienced a shortage of 40%. what key components of the upper basin plan, as the drought
4:05 pm
operation response agreement, they fell below the critical elevation unless the six months -- in less than six months. the upper division states started releasing 180,000 feet a year to help boost the elevation of lake powell. the upper division states are currently working on a plan framework that will fully address the state's key issues and concerns prior to any future drill operations. one of the original intents of the 1956 colorado river storage project allows the other division states to fully develop their reports from end. half of the apportionment were for tribal water developments pursuant to the indian water
4:06 pm
rights settlement that have already been authorized by congress, such as the 2009 navajo water supply budget, which is vital in providing sustainable, residential water to the rural communities within and around the navajo nation, the hickory apache nation, and the city of gallup. those communities have been hit particularly hard by the drought and the covid-19 pandemic. when enlightening the existing climate trends, both the dry periods and wet periods should be taken consideration. it is important to address the existing short-term and long-term challenges, or the long-term equitable approach, while retaining ability for the states to develop their authorized amounts, particularly during the good years. this is no easy task.
4:07 pm
the 2000 seven interim guidelines will expire in 2026. affecting over 40 million people in seven states. the upper and lower regional offices have staff with prevalent modeling expertise who can assist the basin states with responding to our short-term priorities, modeling refinements and needs related to dpp's implementation. long-term priority with lakes powell and mead. we would request additional resources in the next one to five years. new mexico supports the build back better act and the reclamation settlement fund for indians, water rights settlement, which is an investment in our future, as well as hr 5001, the upper river basins recovery act. the seven states agreed to the terms of the compact in that it
4:08 pm
would protect rights for each of those signatories. for almost a century, the states have worked cooperatively with each other, the federal government, and the republic of mexico to manage the systems and implement adaptive management actions within the confines of the river. the decision-making process should consider science and legal policy -- to employ a fact-based approach that employs a holistic vision. thank you. >> thank you for your technical perseverance. ranking member bentz, who are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chair, and i would like to start with mr. tyrell from wyoming. you mentioned watershed and restoration as something that need to happen. here in oregon, we agree with you completely that watersheds
4:09 pm
are an essential part of our water system and that forest restoration is an absolutely essential activity. sadly, we can't seem to get into the forest. there is a prohibition on cutting down a tree or trying to remove junipers or other things that would actually help dramatically in improving the watershed and our water supply. if the craziest thing when we all know that good things can happen if we can get into the forest, but we can't seem to get there. is the same thing happening in wyoming? if so, what are you doing about it? >> thank you you for the question. i don't know that i can speak greatly to wyoming's forest right now, other than -- and access to them. we have also been not quite like oregon this year, but there have been fires in recent years, the mullen fire last year west of
4:10 pm
laramie was horrible, and in my view, if we are interested in hydrologic help for forests and rivers, that points back to a healthy forest. whether it's removing fuels or having healthy oath. forests are valuable for the water they can hold in the winter in terms of snow and in maintaining both the environment and for people who rely on the water. it would seem to me that looking at forest health can do nothing but help our conditions on the river. >> thank you. turning to ms. mitchell from colorado, there is a lot of talk and a lot of reference to collaboration and conservation and words like that, very general. what i would be interested in knowing is if the study has been done in your state to determine, first of all, what sort of
4:11 pm
conservation might actually be available and if implemented, how much water you could actually save? this question i could ask of anyone in the seven states before us, so i don't want to pick on you particularly, but you mentioned collaboratively and certainly and things like that, so that's why i am asking you the question. how much water would be available if you couldn't plummet conservation -- you could implement conservation across the board in your state? >> as part of our work through the colorado water plan, conservation has been one of the pillars that has stood up in how we move forward to a long-range future. of water for colorado. conservation being highlighted and that is just one of the solutions. there is quantification in that to some level, along with lowell's, it's not just in the colorado river basin, but across the entire state. there is a goal of over 400,000
4:12 pm
acre-feet of conservation measures to take place. but that is across the state, so i would have to get back to you on exact of what would potentially be possible. not all of our states and the colorado river basin. >> thank you for that. i would love to see those numbers. if they exist somewhere, please share them. the gentleman from utah, there is an unfortunate focus on agriculture as the source of water in situations like this, and the result of course is that agriculture gets cut off because there's a lot more people in cities than there are on farms. my question to you, what should the farmers be doing, given this focus they find themselves squarely within? >> thank you for the question. you are exactly right. a large majority of the water in
4:13 pm
utah, and i believe the other states as well, is used or agriculture. i agree with you, many times agriculture gets a bad name or using water or wasting water. in reality, a farmer uses water, but what he diverts, part of that is used by the production of the crop. part of that returns to the river, which turns out to be the next appropriators of water supply. it's not as simple as some people think, simply diminishing use for agriculture automatically produces water for culinary purposes. in my mind, it's got to be a market-based situation where there is an advantage for those who are using water that has been used for agriculture, to view the -- move it to municipal. that's how it's typically been done in utah. it happens quite comfortably if those conditions are set by a willing seller.
4:14 pm
>> thank you. the chair will yield back. >> thank you, mr. bentz. we are pleased to be joined by two members of the nevada delegation for testimony, so we will recognize gina titus for five minutes. >> thank you for giving us the opportunity to sit in on this very informative panel. i represent the heart of the las vegas valley, there is over 2 million people there and 4 0 million tourists coming every year. the water to supply us is a very important issue. i would like to address our representative. there are three factors happening here, all at the same time. so there nevada is one of the fastest growing areas in the country. it increased by 18% over the last decade. this has been going on for much longer than that.
4:15 pm
we went from 1.3 million votes to 2.3 million between 2002 and today. there was a time when you had to build one elementary school a month to keep up with the growth. second, we are the fastest warming community in the country. i think you call that era for k? -- airification? second, we have some of the least amount of water, but we are some of the best stewards of what we do get. i am pleased you went into the wastewater investment act, and pointed out that money that will go towards water and the bills we are considering for infrastructure. all the time these three factors are going on, though, we have reduced our consumption of water. it's pretty amazing how we've been able to do that.
4:16 pm
could you talk about how we can sustain growth or continue growth while also reducing our consumption of water from the river? >> absolutely, representative titus. it's good to see a couple of only nevada faces. as you say, since 2002, we have reduced our depletion volume from the colorado river by 23%, while at the same time adding 800,000 new reservoirs. we did that largely by seeking out --. but we need to continue on that conservation journey, and that's why the nevada legislative office this year, assembly bill 350 six, which prohibits the use of colorado river water for nonfunctional turf by 2026, that
4:17 pm
will save about 10% of our colorado river allocation, just by getting street mediums in places where our kids or grandkids are --. key to our journey is continuing to control our demand. as you say, climate change is not doing us any favors either. nine gallons between -- and 2035 because of increased warming. >> i know you have that great programmer you can convert your yard to desert landscaping, and i think that was a great success. can you share how that worked? >> sure. we pay three dollars per square foot to incentivize people to take out grass, and the results have been pretty staggering since the turn-of-the-century, we've spent about $250 million of local funds to fund that program.
4:18 pm
as a result of that, you can lay an 18 inch wide piece of sod around the equator with all the grass we've removed in the valley. >> people think about las vegas, the valley, fountains and big resorts, golf courses, but they use a small percentage of the water here in the valley. is that right? >> that's right. the county is home to 76% of the states population uses less than 5% of water that's available within the state of nevada. if you look at the resort industry, as you said, brings in 45-ish visitors a year, they use less than 1/10 of 1% of the water. >> are you working with bri on any water conservation project?
4:19 pm
>> week ordinate with them regularly, on water conservation issues, water quality issues, lake weed and others with respect to the numbers. >> are you involved it all with the st. george water project north of here? >> i am not, but mr. shaw is, if you would like to ask him. >> i will save that for next time. thank you, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> we will go to your nevada neighbor, congresswoman susie lee. you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you for hosting this really important meeting, and to all of our witnesses for their excellent testimony. as congresswoman titus said, southern nevada and the entire southwest are facing unprecedented drought. as we know, in my district, lake mead, which supplies water for over 25 million people across nevada, arizona and california,
4:20 pm
is at its lowest level since construction in the 30's. to help address this crisis, so much more must be done to accurately measure consumptive use, which includes programs like open e.t.. i want to thank mr. tyrell for recognizing the importance of this program in his testimony, which congresswoman titus was developed through desert research institute. here in the house, i have introduced the opening act, the open et with fellow colleagues of this committee to establish a program under the department of interior that uses publicly available data from satellites and weather stations to provide measurements and estimates of the transpiration and help water managers, farmers and ranchers make decisions about their water use. i have also been working to
4:21 pm
secure federal funding for the large-scale water recycling project. in fact, my colleagues on this committee, along with them, the large-scale water and cycling -- recycling investment act would be included in this bill. as you mentioned in your testimony, the southern nevada water authority is partnering with metropolitan water district of southern california in a multibillion-dollar regional water recycling project. can you speak to how this proposed project will provide tangible benefits to nevada, california, and other communities along the colorado river basin? >> absolutely. in its simplest explanation, what the project will do is take wastewater that's currently being discharged in the pacific ocean and let it be re-utilized. treat that, either inject it into aquifers in southern
4:22 pm
california, or perhaps we can take it to direct global reuse, thereby extending the use of that water in southern california and in concept, what we have discussed with the southern nevada water authority, that $750 million towards the capital needs of that project and return for that, metropolitan would leave a small amount of their metropolitan river entitlement in lake mead over the project. i believe the central arizona water conservancy district also signed off to participate in that project, so with the funding that is in the infrastructure bill, this is a regional project with large amounts of funding from local agencies that also will partner with our federal partners. >> thank you. how would you rank this in our fight against the worsening drought and all of the tools in your toolbox?
4:23 pm
>> what i think i would say, out of all the testimony we've heard today, that's the only project that's adding new water into the fight against the problem. we've talked a lot about how we use -- and how many more needs there are in terms of water that's not currently available. that's the project for the future. >> thank you. i am looking out on my backyard, which does have artificial turf as part of the water smart project. we have been citing to combat drought as a member of appropriations with such activities. in addition to supporting regional recycled water partnerships, are there any other specific types of investments in water related climate resilience in the colorado river basin that needs federal assistance?
4:24 pm
>> well i think the most obvious one, there is a federal obligation contained in the dcd to the protection of lake mead elevations, and while reclamation's have dumb a good job trying to meet that obligation, they have not gotten quite all of them. i think providing reclamation with additional funding so they can also expand the programs that were discussed earlier, in terms of agreements with tribes in arizona and expanding system conservation it hurts -- conservation efforts. >> thank you very much, chair. i yield. >> i think our colleagues from nevada for closing us out on a more hopeful note, talking about some projects and strategies that could really make a difference in addressing these challenges. i want to think they're witnesses --
4:25 pm
>> mr. chairman? >> yes sir. >> was i going to get a chance? >> mr. costa? of course, of course i wanted to include you. i did not have it in my notes that you wanted to jump in, but you may be recognized. >> i have been listening tentatively to all the debate and i think both panels -- thank both panels. this is a $64,000 question, but based on the rate of water these days, i think it is more than $64,000. i subscribed to some of the comments made earlier that the water allocation for the production of food is a national security issue. it really is. less than 5% of our nation's population is engaged in agriculture production, but the majority of americans during the
4:26 pm
pandemic, schools and restaurants closed, and food does not come from your restaurant or your favorite store, but it comes from farmworkers and farmers throughout the country who put it on america's dinner table every night. the second point i want to make is part of the witnesses statements here that we've heard this afternoon, and it's not new. i think it's something we also subscribe to. that's using all the water tools in our water toolbox. i would be interesting -- we talked about quantification of conservation, and i strongly subscribe to that notion, because we have done a lot in conservation, but i think for all the witnesses, it would be nice if we could quantify how much more we can build upon in terms of conservation as a part of what are the water tools in our water toolbox? let me go back to the point i made in my opening statement, which is that the quantification
4:27 pm
of the upper and lower basin states amount to some 17 million acres feet of water, which is determined at the time to be the annual flow of the colorado river. in the past few decades, it has been more like 12.4 million acre-feet, and that doesn't excuse other claims that have yet to be resolved. there is a tremendous amount of demand. with climate change, we know the yield is only going to decline. this is a question i would like to submit to all of you, and if you want to provide written statements of your answer, i think we would appreciate that. let's say the annual yield over next 10 years is 10 million acre-feet. i don't know, maybe plus or minus, with climate change. the tribes and sovereign
4:28 pm
nations, how do we reallocate that on a lot less water? that's the $64,000 question, but it's also more than that, because of the water security to everybody. it was so difficult to agree upon devon teen million acre-feet, which we now know is not there. how do we agree upon the upper and lower basin states and the tribes on a reduced amount, knowing we are going to use the water tools in our water toolbox to conserve that? that's the $64,000 question. >> in a minute and 34 seconds, do any of the witnesses want to answer the hunger games scenario of how we get through that kind of shortfall? >> congressman acosta, i will take a first crack at it. the law of the river is a series of agreements for adjudications
4:29 pm
all down the line, the dcc p being the most recent one. i have been on several panels, and the question is the dcc p enough? >> i was involved in the quantification agreement a number of years ago, and that was a success of sorts. >> very much a success, to reduce water use in california. you look at that progression with incremental change, and currently we are in the process of meeting quite frequently with the lower basin and the upper basin and the seven basin states in trying to quantify additional measures of conservation that we can do in the interim, but also working on the 2026 guideline. it really is a series of collaborative work together that tries to one, quantify, and two, develop the areas in which we are going to make these conservation investments.
4:30 pm
>> would it be too easy to suggest that we use all the water tools in the water toolbox and measure what that adds up to , and then we take the water that was allocated in the difficult law of the river to contract, and reduce it to 10 million acre-feet or whatever we determine the yields to be? >> one of the challenges with that is the long-term water rights -- >> i know, i know. >> yeah, so that is the challenge. it's a collaborative process to get through that. i will say one thing. no disrespect, i noticed a number of folks have lunch during the panel today. i take your comments to heart, is that the food that we eat is actually, you know, it comes from water. this is a food security thing,
4:31 pm
which is an important issue, and that's water. we are all part of that process and the food production cycle. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. we will continue to look forward to working on this. >> that's a great question you ended with. if any witness wants to provide any written supplemental answers to that or any other questions, we would all be happy to see it. let me see if there are any other colleagues that we are hoping to jump in with questions, i don't want to overlook anyone, but i don't inc. there are. so i think at this point, we are going to bring this first day of our colorado river basin hearing to a close. again, thanks to the witnesses on this second panel and to all the members for their great questions. members of the committee may have some introduction -- some additional questions for the witnesses, and we will ask you to respond to those in writing.
4:32 pm
members of the committee must submit those witness questions within three business days. after the hearing, the record will be hope in -- open for 10 business days. if there is no further business, seeing none, without objection, the committee stands adjourned. thanks. >> nasa officials testified before and -- a house science-based subcommittee on the future of space exploration. you can see their testimony starting at 8:00 a.m. eastern -- 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. and you can watch the housing subcommittee hearing with experts on exclusionary zoning and impact on communities and affordable housing that starts at eight -- affordable housing. that starts at 8:00 eastern tonight on c-span two, or watch on our video app, c-span now. sunday night on q&a, brookings institution senior fellow and former wall street journal economist david wessel discusses his book, "only the rich can
4:33 pm
play." >> opportunity zones created tax havens across the country, and they gave wealthy people an incentive to put their money in those poor communities in exchange for a capital gains tax break. unfortunately, we do not know how much money has gone into them due to the senate process known as reconciliation, now a household word in washington. but i think we are expecting tens of billions of dollars going into opportunity zones. but i think the bulk of the money has gone into zones that didn't really need the money. they were already improving. or with projects that might have been built otherwise. >> david wessel with his book "only the rich can play, on c-span's q&a. you can listen to the q&a and all of our podcast on the new c-span now app.
4:34 pm
♪ >> you can be a part of the national conversation by participating in c-span's studentcam competition. if you are a middle or high school student, we are asking you to create a five minute to six minute documentary that answers the question, how does the federal government impact your life? your documentary must show opposing points of view using c-span video clips, which are easy to find and access, at studentcam competition awards more than $100,000 in total cash prizes, and you have a shot of winning the grand prize of $5,000. entries must be received before january 20, 2022. for tips, or how to get started, visit our website, at
4:35 pm
>> washington unfiltered -- c-span in your pocket. download c-span now today. >> president biden spoke about affordable childcare at the capital child development center in hartford, connecticut. he also promoted his build back better agenda, including infrastructure legislation. his remarks are about 25 minutes. [applause] president biden: as my colleagues have heard me say at a different then you, my mother says you are doing gods work. you really are. i know a lot of people are in desperate need of a facility like this and childcare. i didn't fully appreciate it as a young member of the county council, when i was 27 years old. but when i got elected to the united states senate when i was


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on