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Sen. Wyden Pushes For Federal Drought Help

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- An Oregon Senator wants federal agencies to take a bigger step in improving the water situation in the west, amid ongoing drought.

In Tuesday’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) used Oregon as an example of the dire circumstances, "The summer begins next week. More than half of my state is already suffering extreme or severe drought. Seventeen Oregon counties have been declared to be in a state of emergency because of water shortages. This is the first time Deschutes County has been in a drought emergency three years in a row." He added, "Drought conditions have been so bad in Central Oregon that for 18 straight months, Wickiup Reservoir, the primary source of irrigation water for Jefferson County, set record lows for months-end contents." And, he pointed to ongoing hardship in the Klamath Basin, where farms and tribes are without water and residential wells run dry.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law commits $8.3 billion for western water infrastructure. Wyden pressed Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton on how that money will be used to help Oregon. Touton told him the agency has hired more than 80 new staffers to more quickly process grant requests and send out funding air enough.

Wyden also called on colleagues to pass his "Watershed Results Act," which he says will improve the resilience and health of the country's watersheds by using scientific data to identify solutions. 

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