4:56pm

Mon January 14, 2013
Politics

Bennet Presses House For Poudre River Restoration Funding

During a visit to the Greeley Bellvue Water Treatment Plant, Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennet urged the US House of Representatives to fund $120 million for Emergency Watershed Protection. 

Holding a beaker filled with Poudre River water polluted black with soot and ash from the High Park wildfire, Senator Bennet said the critical funding should be included in a second Hurricane Sandy disaster relief bill being considered by the House Tuesday.

Jon Monson, director of Greeley Water and Sewer discusses the contaminated Poudre River with Senator Michael Bennet. A beaker of polluted river water sits nearby.
Credit Nathan Heffel / KUNC

“We went through hell this summer here, with these fires. And the last thing we need is a bunch of floods that end up turning our river water black," Bennet says. "This is a huge problem for Greeley, it’s a huge problem for Fort Collins, it’s also a huge problem for Colorado Springs.” 

The soot and ash forced the city of Greeley and Fort Collins to significantly cut their use of the Poudre River after last summer’s fire. 

Bennet and Colorado Senator Mark Udall successfully included the watershed protection funding in a Senate approved Sandy disaster relief bill late last year.

However, in a surprising move, the House failed to bring that bill to a vote effectively killing it. Bennet says the delay is frustrating.

“When you hear people talk about how they’re fiscally responsible, when they’re creating a set of conditions that are inevitably going to cost more money and much more pain if we don’t deal with it now.” 

There is no guarantee the funding will be included in the House version of a Sandy relief bill. Bennet says he will reintroduce the issue in the Senate if the house fails to act.