U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich are backing legislation to conserve water resources and promote sustainability. The SECURE Water Amendments Act of 2014 would expand grants and increase funding for water conservation and drought projects, and provide resources for better data collection and analysis of water supply and use.
The bill, introduced by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai"i), Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power, will receive a hearing tomorrow.
"As New Mexico deals with the sixth consecutive year of drier-than-average conditions, the provisions in this bill to conserve water and improve efficiency are more important than ever," Udall said. "Funding the SECURE Water Act was one of the recommendations made during the New Mexico Water Conference, which I hosted in Las Cruces, and contained in the Water Report I issued last spring. This bill would build on that recommendation and ensure critical resources are available to help New Mexico adapt and respond to water scarcity, and it's one of several measures I will continue to support to address New Mexico's water needs."
"The ongoing drought has taken a heavy toll on our state. This bill will provide New Mexico with resources to plan for and combat drought and to assist in developing a comprehensive national water strategy," Heinrich said. "Expanding funding for projects that conserve and use water more efficiently will help create much needed long-term solutions to save water and money in our communities suffering from the impacts of years of drought."
To conserve water and promote sustainability, the bill:
- Increases funding for WaterSMART grants. The bill will increase funding for the Department of the Interior's WaterSMART grant program, which supports local water management projects that conserve and use water more efficiently, increases the use of renewable energy, protects endangered species, and facilitates water markets.
- Provides resources to plan for and combat drought. With droughts in New Mexico, and across the country, this bill makes sure projects that prepare for and respond to droughts are prioritized for funding under the WaterSMART grant program.
- Helps to develop a comprehensive national water assessment. The bill will provide resources for states to gather and analyze water supply and use information in a consistent manner to help develop a uniform national assessment of water availability and use.
- The SECURE Water Amendments Act of 2014 is supported by the American Planning Association, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and the Western States Water Council.