Colorado River District Gives Voice To West Slope Water In Congress

General Manager’s testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry and Natural Resources put the western water crisis on federal center stage.

Washington, D.C. — On Tuesday, June 7, General Manager Andy Mueller of the Colorado River District provided expert testimony to the Senate Subcommittee onConservation, Climate, Forestry and Natural Resources regarding the mounting water crisis in the west and its effects on our agricultural producers and forest watersheds on Colorado’s Western Slope. Mueller’s written and verbal statements focused on the impacts of climate change on water supplies in the Colorado River Basin and the federal action needed for impacted communities.

“This drought is threatening our local, regional, and national food supplies,” Mueller told the subcommittee. “Over the last twenty years, the flows of the Colorado River have been 20% below average due to a drought more severe than any in the last 1,200 years. Families who have been involved in agriculture and ranching for multiple generations are being forced to sell their cattle and are confronting tremendously uncertain futures.”

Joined by other expert witnesses from Colorado and Kansas, Mueller put the needs of West Slope water users front and center in the Senate forum, stressing opportunities for federal action through the upcoming Farm Bill to aid District communities and beyond.

“The 2023 Farm Bill presents opportunities to encourage public investment in proper forest management, forested, natural water infrastructure, enhancing climate resilience of water supplies, supporting workforce development, and increasing the pace and scale of watershed restoration and adaptation.”

To continue to survive and thrive in this new climate, Mueller emphasized the need for an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to water conservation. He stressed that every water user sector – from agricultural to industrial to municipal – will have to meaningfully reduce their water consumption. Any federal program implemented, however, must support our most productive agricultural land, which is essential to the health of western communities and the nation.

“As in the past, when our nation is confronted with existential threats, we need the federal government to be an integral partner to our efforts. We cannot, nor will we, throw up our hands and surrender the thriving Southwest to the forces of climate change.”

To watch the recording of the subcommittee hearing and Andy Mueller’s testimony, click here.