Bipartisan lawmakers float new drought bills

By Jennifer Yachnin | 05/03/2024 06:21 AM EDT

The legislation would help Western states with water infrastructure, contingency plans and water monitoring.

Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.).

Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) is leading new legislation to fight drought in the West. Francis Chung/POLITICO

A bipartisan trio of Western lawmakers are seeking to reauthorize major water programs aimed at helping states address more than two decades of persistent drought.

Sens. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Cynthis Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced two bills Thursday to support new water infrastructure, prepare drought contingency plans and improve water monitoring.

“Long-term aridification is threatening our way of life in the West,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Extending existing, proven water programs will let us spend more time measuring and saving our water and less time reinventing the wheel.”


The bills include the “Drought Preparedness Act,” which would renew the authorization of the Reclamation State Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991. The law, which had expired in 2022, would be extended through 2028.