WASHINGTON, D.C. — Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) applauded President Trump signing into law a critically needed fix to the 2018 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that would provide relief to Klamath Basin irrigators who have been hard-hit by drought. The legislation was passed by the House on October 1, and was signed into law on Friday, October 30, 2020.
In 2018, the WRDA included language that was essential for irrigators in the Klamath Basin to effectively use $10 million in drought relief funds that the lawmakers had previously secured. This new law provides clear flexibility in how the relief may be used, enabling irrigators to access the funding when there is a severe shortage of water.
“This is welcome news for irrigators in the Klamath Basin, who are enduring another drought-stricken year, unprecedented wildfires, and the COVID-19 pandemic all at the same time,” said Walden. “This legislation will ensure they have the tools they need to get through these hard times as well as prepare irrigators in the Klamath Basin if they are hit with severe drought in the years ahead. I want to thank President Trump for swiftly signing this bill into law and taking care of the hardworking farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin.”
The original language authorized up to $10 million a year for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to work with the farming and ranching community to develop and implement strategies to align water demand with available supply. This technical correction clarifies the authority for irrigators to access the funds for strategies such as land idling and groundwater pumping in times of drought.
This announcement comes a few months after Walden brought Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt and Commissioner of Reclamation Brenda Burman to meet with key stakeholders in the Klamath Basin. Earlier this year, the Trump Administration made good on an April commitment to deliver 140,000 acre feet of water for farmers in the Klamath Basin.