ACWA Members Testify Before House At Colorado River Drought Hearing by ACWA Staff Oct 20, 2021 Member Submitted News Washington, D.C. — The House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife concluded an oversight hearing today on how drought is impacting the Colorado River. Titled “Colorado River Drought Conditions and Response Measures,” the two-part hearing included witness testimony from federal officials, state officials, tribes, public water agencies and nonprofits. Representatives from three ACWA member agencies offered witness testimony during the hearing, including Coachella Valley Water District, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Imperial Irrigation District. Their collective testimony provided on-the-ground reflections from the 21-year-long drought on the Colorado River system. “The Colorado River Basin is experiencing its worst drought in over 100 years of record keeping, and one of the worst droughts in the past 1,200 years,” said Peter Nelson, Chair of the Colorado River Board of California and a Director at Coachella Valley Water District, during the Oct. 15 hearing. “In the context of Colorado River management, the value of adaptive management cannot be overstated,” Nelson added. “California believes that going forward it will be imperative to continue to closely coordinate and collaborate with not only the other six basin states, water users in the basin, and Mexico, but most importantly with the federal agencies with management authorities and responsibilities in the Colorado River Basin.” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), Chair of the Subcommittee, opened the Oct. 20 portion of the hearing by saying “the Colorado River, which serves 40 million people and fuels $1.4 trillion in economic activity every single year, is currently experiencing a 21-year drought that is greatly exacerbated by climate change.” Rep. Clifford Bentz (R-OR), ranking member of the Subcommittee, noted in his opening remarks that, “as we heard last week, and as we will hear today, (water managers and farmers) and most everyone else are extremely concerned that another year of this drought will make matters extremely worse.” Adel Hagekhalil, General Manager and Chief Executive Office of The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, noted in his written testimony, “The Colorado River is the lifeline of the American Southwest.” Additionally, Hagekhalil remarked, “we must work together through a ‘one water’ integrated approach to address water shortages. Strong federal leadership and significant federal funding is essential to ensuring success in meeting this challenge.” Enrique Martinez, General Manager of Imperial Irrigation District, offered that, “the only way to ensure the long-term viability of the Colorado River system is for water agencies, the states, tribes, Mexico and other stakeholders that rely on the river to commit anew to working alongside one another to identify new partnerships and solutions to address the imbalance on the Colorado River.” He added, “the linkage between the Colorado River and the Salton Sea is irrefutable and the challenges facing it are ones both the upper and lower basins must recognize as a community of aligned interests.” Both hearings can be viewed in full, as well as complete witness list with written testimony, on the House Natural Resources website (part one; part two).