Barrasso Introduces Legislation to Improve Water Management in the West

June 23, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), introduced S. 2185, the Western Water Infrastructure Act of 2021. This legislation will reauthorize expiring programs for the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and authorize funding to eliminate the BOR infrastructure maintenance backlog.

“Water is the lifeblood of everything we do in Wyoming. From cattle ranching to energy exploration to recreation, it’s critical to our lives and our livelihoods,” said Barrasso. “My legislation will fix aging irrigation systems and storage infrastructure so that Americans have access to a clean, reliable supply of water. It will give the Bureau of Reclamation the tools it needs to better manage water in the West.” 

“Water is the most important natural resource in the West. I appreciate Senator Barrasso's leadership to address a major challenge,” said Wyoming Governor Gordon. “We have spoken often about the need to fortify our water supply and repair our aging infrastructure. This bill unlocks new funding for important Bureau of Reclamation surface and groundwater storage programs that will help Western states like Wyoming to build out our storage needs. It also prioritizes maintenance and inspections for Bureau facilities, which is a major step in the right direction to make rural communities safer and more resilient.” 

“The Western Water Infrastructure Act of 2021 will provide much needed assistance to help address issues facing the clients we serve and our valuable water resources,” said Brandon Gebhart, director of the Wyoming Water Development Office. “Aging infrastructure, drought and adequate water supply are some of the significant issues that our clients face. This Act will help to address each of these issues. Supporting rehabilitation of dams, sediment management and enhanced infrastructure inspections will have immediate and positive impacts on our efforts. Many thanks to Senator Barrasso for his dedication to address these issues.” 

“The current drought crisis we are facing this year is shaping up to be one of the worst in recent history. Our Western communities have been battered by fires and drought on top of the year-long public health crisis,” said Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance. “Senator Barrasso's bill will provide a suite of tools - fixes to aging infrastructure, new surface and groundwater storage projects, and water recycling and reuse projects, among others - that will be welcomed by rural communities across the Western U.S. We thank the Senator for his leadership during this time of crisis.” 

The Western Water Infrastructure Act of 2021 will: 

  • Authorize funding to eliminate maintenance backlog at BOR;
  • Reauthorize expiring programs at BOR, including authorizing more funding for building water storage;
  • Create an “Annual Report to Congress on Future Western Water Storage Projects” to provide a list of BOR approved projects and feasibility reports for congressional approval;
  • Authorize funding for enhanced inspections of aging BOR facilities; and
  • Create a new program to restore water storage capacity at BOR and U.S. Army Corps of Engineer reservoirs by developing and implementing sediment management plans at the request of project beneficiaries. 

Read the section-by-section of the Western Water Infrastructure Act of 2021 here

Read the text of the Western Water Infrastructure Act of 2021 here.