Sen. Kelly Leads Colleagues in Letter Urging DOI to Use Drought Mitigation Funds to Help Farmers Invest in Water Efficient Technologies

Amid this historic western drought, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly recently called on the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation to use a portion of the $4 billion drought mitigation funds he secured in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), now law, to help farmers in the Colorado River Basin invest in water-efficient technologies. Kelly was joined by Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). 

“…The U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation have unprecedented resources that can assist farming communities in the Colorado River Basin to voluntarily transition, where practicable, from flood irrigation to water-efficient and energy-efficient drip irrigation and implement other water conservation practices. Doing so will save significant amounts of Colorado River water while avoiding the harmful impacts of fallowing. If farmers continue to maintain and operate these systems, water savings generated by the use of micro-irrigation, automation, or other technology would be replicated year after year, while avoiding the social, economic and food security repercussions of fallowing productive farmland,” wrote the Senators.

“…Some of these technologies can be used on water-intensive field and commodity crops, including alfalfa, cotton, corn, and rice. Given the significant benefits of changing the way farmers use water in the drought-stricken West, Reclamation should provide substantial incentives to farmers to test the implementation of innovative improvements in water efficiency, and where appropriate, adopt them,” continued the Senators.

Kelly, who negotiated and secured $4 billion in the IRA for drought mitigation, has continued to push the Biden administration to use every tool at its disposal to protect Arizona farmers, cities, tribes, and businesses from the impacts of western drought. As a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Committee on Environment and Public Works, Kelly has secured historic investments to combat western drought, improve water resilience, fix and modernize water infrastructure, and protect clean drinking water sources.

Read the Senators’ letter HERE.