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 Family Farm Alliance Water Infrastructure Recommendations

(Washington, D.C. - February 9, 2009). The Family Farm Alliance on February 9, 2009 formally transmitted recommendations to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for aging water infrastructure projects and the economic stimulus package. "The Alliance believes that the economic stimulus proposals being considered by Congress present a unique opportunity to make the investments necessary to secure a more reliable water supply infrastructure for the West, while creating jobs and opportunities in economically distressed rural areas," said Alliance President Patrick O'Toole, a Wyoming cattle and sheep rancher. "Repairing and modernizing our western water infrastructure also will directly address some of the West's vexing water supply problems by improving water resource management and conservation. These in turn will produce greater energy efficiencies and will provide more flexibility to meet environmental needs, thereby alleviating conflict."

Key recommendations proposed in the February 9 letter include:

For the Bureau of Reclamation:

Rehabilitate and Improve Aging Reclamation Infrastructure, using direct loans, loan guarantees, and extended repayment provisions. Reclamation should aggressively outsource design, engineering and environmental work whenever feasible, economical and necessary to speed project implementation. Reclamation should provide funding to speed implementation of current and ready-to-go Safety of Dams Program projects. Stimulus funding should also be directed toward rapid development and implementation of projects to improve water management and delivery facilities in urbanizing areas; Improve Drought Management Through Water Management / Conservation / Reuse; Fund "Shovel-Ready" Title XVI Water Reclamation & Reuse Projects; Provide Clean Water to Rural Areas through implementation of ready-to-go rural water projects, including those already under construction, or "at risk" facilities. For the Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS):

Provide grants and loans for local water management, conservation and infrastructure improvement projects through the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program; Fund direct loans for Rural Water and Waste Water Disposal; Provide grants for local water conservation, water quality and supply enhancement; Provide funding to support projects through the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Other Recommendations:

Streamline the federal regulatory process; Refine and improve our understanding of watersheds across the nation through science and data collection
Read the entire 2/9/9 Alliance letter (PDF-6 pp) 

The 2/9/9 letter builds upon principles established in an important water policy report that the Alliance released after the November 2008 presidential election. That report is intended to help the Obama Administration develop solutions to Western water problems that balance environmental demands with economic realities.

Download and read 2008 Alliance Western Water Policy Report (PDF) 

The Family Farm Alliance is a grassroots organization of family farmers, ranchers, irrigation districts and allied industries in 16 Western states. The Alliance is focused on one mission: To ensure the availability of reliable, affordable irrigation water supplies to Western farmers and ranchers. Since 2005, the Family Farm Alliance has been invited to testify 16 times before Congress on water and environmental challenges and legislation. For more information on the Alliance, go to www.familyfarmalliance.org


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