During a visit to the Greeley-Bellvue Water Treatment Plant today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet highlighted the need for federal resources to protect drinking water in the wake of last summer's wildfires and urged the House to take action.
"Colorado communities are still reeling from the effects of last year's devastating wildfires," Bennet said. "These resources for the Emergency Watershed Protection program are critical as our communities work to safeguard and rebuild their water infrastructure."
"Just a few weeks ago in the Senate, we successfully passed a disaster recovery package that included resources for Colorado. Now the House needs to act."
Bennet's visit comes a day before the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a Hurricane Sandy disaster aid package. A similar package passed the Senate in late December and included $125 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program that Senator Bennet, along with Senator Mark Udall, helped secure. However, the House of Representatives failed to vote on the bill before adjourning its session on January 2. Now in a new Congress, there is no guarantee the EWP funding will be included in the House's version of the bill.
During today's visit, Bennet, local experts and leaders from Greeley, Fort Collins and Larimer County discussed the region's work to preserve and protect watersheds that are at risk due to last season's wildfires. The wildfires damaged watersheds throughout the state, increasing the risk of flash flooding and road washouts and compromising clean drinking water supplies.
The federal EWP program is designed to support efforts to restore eroded watersheds and damaged drinking water infrastructure. In addition to helping secure the $125 million in EWP funding in the aid package that passed the Senate in late December, Senator Bennet led efforts in November to urge President Obama and Congressional Appropriators to include EWP funding in a Hurricane Sandy disaster recovery package.
The EWP program falls under the jurisdiction of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Natural Resources and Forestry, a subcommittee Bennet chairs.