10/02/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/03/2023 15:11
Oct 3, 2023
Bipartisan Headwaters Protection Act strengthens two U.S. Forest Service programs to ensure forest, watershed, and drinking water health
WASHINGTON - Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema cosponsored the bipartisan Headwaters Protection Act - legislation strengthening two U.S. Forest Service programs authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, the Water Source Protection Program (WSPP), and the Water Condition Framework (WCF). The Sinema-backed bill invests in these programs to improve the health and safety of forests, watersheds, and drinking water across Arizona.
Sinema's support comes as Arizonans increasingly worry about access to clean water, especially during record drought conditions. Last year, Sinema and a bipartisan group of Western senators sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies requesting full funding for the WSPP.
"The future of Arizona - and all of the American West - depends on a healthy, resilient water supply. Our bipartisan bill offers a commonsense step towards a strong water future so Arizona can continue to thrive," said Sinema.
The Sinema-backed Headwaters Protection Act reauthorizes the WSPP and increases funding opportunities from $10 million per year to $30 million per year over the next ten years, as well as authorizes $30 million in new funding opportunities for the WCF over the next five years.
The WSPP is designed to help prevent pollution of surface and ground water used as a primary source of drinking water.
The WCF establishes a new consistent, comparable, and credible process for improving the health of watersheds on national forests and grasslands.
The Forest Service reports that in Fiscal Year 2022, 54% of watersheds were in functioning condition, 44% were functioning at risk, and 3% had impaired function. A 2020 map of National Forest System lands reveals that large portions of the Salt and Verde watersheds - which are critical to supplying the Valley with clean, reliable water - were functioning at risk. The Headwaters Protection Act would fund reliable data and meaningful watershed health improvement projects and provide constituents with more plentiful, clean water.