WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — In a Senate hearing on Tuesday, lawmakers sounded the alarm about the severe drought in the west, which they say has not been this dry in 1,200 years.
The Colorado River provides drinking water for 40 million people in seven states and serves about five million acres of farmland. During the hearing, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) warned that the river “is running out of water.”
Most of the western United States is experiencing severe drought.
Andy Mueller, of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, explained “this drought is threatening our local, regional and national food supply.”
Senator Bennet said it’s the federal government’s responsibility to fight climate change that’s fueling the drought, just like the government would help states after a hurricane.
“But we haven’t seen anything like that kind of response to the western water crisis,” Bennet said.
Mueller added that low levels at Lake Powell signal dire consequences.
“No water in the Grand Canyon, no water for California, no water for Nevada,” Mueller said.
Experts said more federal funding is needed to implement new forecasting, water storage and to help farmers save water.
While experts say the root problem is human caused climate change, Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville appeared to want a different answer.
“My question is we know we have a problem, why do we have a problem?” Senator Tuberville (R-AL) asked.
Expert Dr. Courtney Schultz explained “human caused climate change, we’re seeing significant increases in temperatures.” Schultz added, “We’re looking at potential low to no snow futures.”
Tuberville responded, asking “why is it doing that though?” to which Schultz explained, “because it’s getting hotter.”
Republicans and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) have blocked meaningful legislation to fight climate change.