As the United States deals with an unprecedented water crisis in the majority of areas around the nation, there are people claiming that the government’s response doesn’t seem to be as robust as their actions to address water shortages in other parts of the country. This was also what the Senator for Colorado, Michael Bennet, claimed in a recent hearing for the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry, and Natural Resources—that the West needs the same level of government assistance as the East and Gulf Coasts have received in response to hurricanes and other natural disasters.
“When hurricanes and other natural disasters strike the East Coast, or the Gulf states, Washington springs into action to protect those communities,” Bennet voiced out during the hearing. “That’s what a federal government is supposed to do – to bring the full power and resources of the American people together to help our fellow citizens.”
With an aim of urging the government to do more, the chairman of the committee, Bennet, stressed out the government hasn’t been giving the same level of attention to the water crisis in the West as they have been to other parts of the country, “But we haven’t seen anything like that kind of response to the Western water crisis, even though its consequences are far more wide-reaching and sustained than any one natural disaster.”
To clear out more space for his claim, Bennet pointed out that the federal government hasn’t done enough to address the water crisis in the Colorado River Basin. The basin provides water to nearly 40 million people across seven states, and it helps with the irrigation of five million acres of agricultural land. This helps the $26 billion outdoor recreation and tourism economy on the West coast.
During the subcommittee’s first hearing since 2013 as well as the first hearing since it was expanded in 2021 to include climate-related issues, Bennet continued “The West hasn’t been this dry in 1,200 years. If we don’t get our act together in Washington, it’s going to not only put Western agriculture at risk, but the American West as we know it.”
To back up his claim, he mentioned that Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the two of the biggest reservoirs in the country, which are also the biggest in the Colorado River Basin, are at the lowest levels they’ve been since they were filled 50 years ago.
This water crisis in the Western United States is only predicted to get worse as the climate continues to change, making droughts longer and more frequent. Scientists have also warned that the Colorado River Basin could see its water flows decrease by up to 20% by 2050.
But it’s not all that Bennet brought out, as he also acknowledged that there are other issues that need to be addressed, “And that’s just water. I haven’t even mentioned how climate change is incinerating our forests and blanketing our communities in smoke from wildfires.”
This sentiment was also brought up by Senator Roger Marshall from Alaska, a Ranking Member of the subcommittee, “As drought and wildfires persist, we must come together to create common-sense solutions with input from scientists, community members, farmers, and ranchers who intimately understand the challenges at hand. It is my hope that this hearing will serve as a turning point on the long path to drought resiliency.”
As the hearing convened, Bennet asserted, “Our purpose this morning is simple: to sound the alarm about the water crisis in the American West.” This is something that he and many other people feel very passionately about. With that being said, it’ll be interesting to see how the government responds to this growing crisis.
It’s clear that the government needs to do more to address the water crisis in the Western United States. With droughts becoming more frequent and severe, it’s important that action is taken soon. So for anyone in the agricultural industry or who relies on the Colorado River Basin for their water needs, let’s hope that the government takes this issue seriously and comes up with a plan to address it. Otherwise, the consequences could be dire.
But if you’re looking for ways to do things yourself to make your farm or business more drought-resistant, there are several things that you can do. While most of them might cost money upfront, we here at Farm Plus Financial feel that it’s worth it to invest in your future and the future of agriculture. This is why we’re offering various agricultural loans to help farmers and ranchers in this time of need. So if you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help!