2:08pm

Thu December 13, 2012
Politics

Disaster Bill Could Include State Watershed Restoration Funds

A $60.4 billion disaster appropriations bill for Hurricane Sandy relief and rebuilding now includes $125 million for restoration efforts at Colorado watersheds damaged by this summer’s wildfires.

Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet worked to add funding to the bill. In a statement, Bennet says the $125 million will address damaged watersheds across the country and in El Paso, Larimer, and Weld counties.

"This summer, Coloradans endured a devastating series of disasters – catastrophic wildfires in the midst of one of the worst droughts in decades. We're glad the Appropriations Committee is listening to Colorado and included a boost for this vital program."

Udall Press Secretary Mike Saccone says passing the appropriations bill - with the added funds - is the right thing to do, bringing relief to watersheds like the Poudre River which supplies water to Greeley and Ft. Collins.

“It’s also the fiscally responsible thing to do. If we don’t quickly confront the roughly 20 million dollars of watershed damages it’s possible that tax payers in Larimer, and El Paso county, as well as tax payers across the nation could be forced to face hundreds of millions of dollars in ongoing costs to deal with this wildfire damage.”

The disaster bill must still pass both the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives before the end of the year.

The additional funding would increase the scope of the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. The program supports restoration projects across the country including repair of drinking water infrastructure and watersheds damaged by fire or drought.

The senators say they will work to keep the watershed funding included as the bill advances.