Oregon’s senior 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 in Washington D.C., Senator Ron Wyden used Oregon as an example of the dire circumstances.

“The summer begins next week [June 21st]. 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 also pointed to ongoing hardship in the Klamath Basin, where farms and tribes are without water and residential wells run dry.

“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.”

Wyden noted the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law commits $8.3 billion for western water infrastructure. A Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner testified the agency has hired staff of 80 people to more quickly distributed that money. 

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