American Avocets

In a bipartisan vote, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment to the annual Energy and Water Appropriations bill that would dedicate more money to a new water conservation program that is helping to relieve stress on the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin.

By a margin of 73-23, the Senate voted to authorize an additional $50 million for the System Conservation Pilot Program in the next fiscal year. The amendment was sponsored by Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dean Heller (R-NV).

The Colorado River Basin has faced more than fifteen years of drought, which is diminishing river flows that millions of birds need, along with tens of millions of people in communities across seven states. If no action is taken, and reservoir levels continue to fall, it would be an unprecedented disaster for the region.

The Senate passed the Energy and Water bill today, which included this amendment and strong funding for other water conservation programs such as WaterSMART, along with an additional $100 million for Western drought response.

While the House Energy and Water bill has yet to be finalized, this amendment’s victory is a hopeful sign that bipartisan solutions can continue to be found in helping to address the significant challenge of water scarcity in the West. If you haven’t already, please ask your members of Congress to help the birds in the drought-ravaged West by supporting this and other key water conservation measures.