Reclamation sounds off on Western water bills

By Garrett Downs | 05/23/2024 06:21 AM EDT

A House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing Wednesday featured a sharp exchange between lawmakers.

Colorado River and Hoover Dam.

Lawmakers discussed legislation concerning the Colorado River and Hoover Dam during a hearing Wednesday. John Locher/AP

The Bureau of Reclamation supports “the intent” of four bills moving through the House Natural Resources Committee to shore up operations of major Western waterways, including the Colorado and Klamath river basins.

The Water, Wildlife and Fisheries Subcommittee on Wednesday met to discuss the four bills targeting hydropower and aging water infrastructure. All four bills received a rosy reception from David Palumbo, Reclamation’s deputy commissioner of operations.

Palumbo said Reclamation supports Rep. Susie Lee’s (D-Nev.) H.R. 7776, the “Help Hoover Dam Act,” which would provide an additional $45 million in operating funds for the Hoover Dam.


The bill would tap a “stranded” account to cover shortfalls in retirement accounts of Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) and Bureau of Reclamation employees. The shortfalls are also covered by appropriations, leading them to build up in the account unused.