Produce industry welcomes "major victory" for Western water users in Infrastructure Bill
With President Joe Biden’s signature on the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Monday, a national coalition representing thousands of Western farmers, ranchers, businesses and rural and urban water providers declared a victory for Western water users.
They also called on the Administration to immediately clear the path for projects that will address critical Western water supply needs.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes more than $8 billion for projects that will enhance water supply reliability across the West, including repairing aging dams and canals, building new surface and groundwater storage and conveyance facilities, funding water conservation and recycling projects, and improving watershed and ecosystem management.
“This is a great victory for Western water users," Family Farm Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen said.
"The Western water provisions included in this legislation represent a once-in-a-generation federal investment that will bolster our aging water infrastructure and keep water flowing to our nation’s farms and ranches.
"It will also improve our ability to provide water supply reliability for cities and the environment in future droughts."
United Fresh President & CEO Tom Stenzel, who attended the White House ceremony, said: “The new law will provide critical improvements to support the fresh produce supply chain, including roads, bridges, ports and vitally needed western state water infrastructure investment.
"We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and Congress to ensure consumers have access to our safe, healthy and nutritious products. This law is a strong step in the right direction.”
Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia said: “We urge the Administration to quickly drive implementation of the Western water provisions."
"Time, like water, is in short supply. We cannot let red tape and activist litigation stall or block the many long overdue projects necessary to repair and enhance our aging water infrastructure and develop reliable new sources of water supply."
National Water Resources Association President Christine Arbogast said: "Water is the cornerstone of our economic and ecological wellbeing. We are grateful to Congress and the Administration for their efforts to enact of this historic bipartisan legislation.
"It will benefit every American as well as future generations by making critical investments in our nation's water infrastructure."
Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Executive Director David Eggerton said: "The ACWA applauds this bipartisan commitment to invest in water infrastructure on a historic scale which will provide western water managers with valuable resources for storage, conveyance, recycling, ecosystem and dam safety projects.
"Today represents a milestone in our nation’s collective ability to achieve water infrastructure resilience and ensure a safe, reliable and high-quality supply of water now and for future generations."
California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson said: “Amid the searing drought across the West and another catastrophic wildfire season, the $8 billion investment included for water infrastructure investments comes at a critical time.
"We are appreciative of the bipartisan investment that has been made in new and aging infrastructure as well as water conveyance facilities. Farmers can now look forward to long-needed infrastructure enhancements necessary to produce a safe and reliable food supply."
The coalition includes more than 220 organizations from 15 states that collectively represent $120 billion in agricultural production—nearly one-third of all agricultural production in the country—and many of the local and regional public water agencies that supply water to more than 75 million urban, suburban and rural residents.