A national coalition of over 200 agricultural organizations and urban and rural water districts including the California Cotton Ginners & Growers Association urged President-elect Joe Biden and congressional leadership today to address aging Western water infrastructure in any potential infrastructure or economic recovery package. The coalition includes organizations from 15 states that collectively represent $120 billion in agricultural production, nearly one-third of all agricultural production in the country, and tens of millions of urban and rural water users. In separate letters to President-elect Biden and congressional leaders, the coalition said existing Western water infrastructure is in desperate need of rehabilitation and improvement. Most of the federal water projects in the West were built more than 50 years ago and were not designed with the present and future population demands and climate conditions in mind. Without immediate attention, the coalition said, the Western water system will quickly prove inadequate to meet the needs of urban and rural users and the environment. The coalition encouraged the federal government to invest in a diversified water management portfolio that enhances water supply and quality for urban and environmental uses while keeping water flowing to Western farms. Specific recommendations include funding for:
• Water conservation.
• Water recycling, reuse and desalination projects.
• New water storage facilities, both surface and groundwater.
• Watershed management, fish passage and recovery, and habitat restoration.
• Federal financing mechanisms for water projects.
• Loans for local districts operating and maintaining federally owned irrigation projects.
• Water quality improvement for rural communities.
Beyond financial support, the coalition also called on the federal government to ensure the timely construction of water projects by streamlining the regulation and permitting processes. Association President/CEO Roger A. Isom stated the time is absolutely now! We have gone too many years without upgrades to our water infrastructure.”