Wyden, Merkley urge federal government to deliver drought relief to Oregon

U.S. Senators Ron
Wyden and Jeff Merkley recently pressed the Bureau of Reclamation to prioritize
Oregon as the agency develops its plans for the drought relief resources that
Congress recently provided in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)
and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

“[W]e write to
strongly urge the Bureau of Reclamation to provide critical funding to areas in
Oregon that have been devastated by the historic, multi-year, extreme drought
conditions,” the senators wrote to Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner
Camille Touton. “As you saw first-hand this summer while visiting the
Klamath Basin, the drought has been devastating to Oregon communities. As our
reservoirs run dry, 23 Oregon counties have USDA disaster designations and hundreds
of thousands of Oregonians have been directly harmed by drought. Communities
and irrigation districts are continuing to invest in water conservation
improvements, however, funding is becoming harder to come by with the
persistent drought conditions. The number of projects that need to be completed
to address this drought emergency has far outpaced local funding sources.”

“. . . Your
agency is now primed with new funding and beneficial tools that can help
Oregonians struggling against drought by supporting repairs to aging
infrastructure, conservation efficiencies and new piping. These infrastructure
upgrades would improve irrigation, water quality, wildlife refuges, and salmon
and steelhead fisheries across the state,” the senators continued.