Mark Udall welcomed the passage today of U.S. Senate legislation containing $65.5 million to help communities like El Paso County and Larimer County repair watersheds damaged in last summer's wildfires, calling it a major victory for Colorado. The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program funds, also included in the Continuing Resolution that passed the U.S. House of Representatives, will allow Colorado communities affected by the devastating High Park and Waldo Canyon fires to deal with degraded water quality, high flooding risk and eroded watersheds.
"More than seven months after Colorado experienced the most destructive wildfire season on record, we are now closer to sending help than ever before. We are finally circling the wagons and affirming that we are all in this together," Udall said. "I am glad my colleagues in Congress have joined me in standing with Colorado communities in their time of need."
Because the House version of the continuing resolution included only $48 million for the EWP program, either the House will pass the Senate version of the Continuing Resolution or the Senate and House will settle the difference in conference before sending the bill to the president.
The Emergency Watershed Protection program supports efforts to restore eroded watersheds and damaged drinking water infrastructure. Udall and Sen. Michael Bennet have led the fight to secure funds since the devastating 2012 wildfire season. As a result of the historic High Park Fire in northern Colorado, the area supplying drinking water to communities including Greeley and Fort Collins has a high risk of flooding, road washouts and water quality degradation. Similarly, in Colorado Springs, utility infrastructure was badly damaged in the wake of last year's wildfire season. EWP resources could help these Colorado communities protect their critical infrastructure and prevent future catastrophic damage from fires and floods.