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No Relief For Damaged Colorado Watersheds in House Disaster Bill

Charles Willgren
Flickr - CreativeCommons

The House passed the first part of a relief bill for victims of Hurricane Sandy Friday. Absent from the legislation was funding for watershed restoration in Colorado following this summer’s wildfires.

The original version of the bill, which Speaker of the House John Boehner walked away from Wednesday, included $125 million for restoration efforts at Colorado watersheds. Friday’s $9.7 billion legislation approved by House republicans will pay flood insurance claims for victims of Sandy, but doesn’t include the watershed relief funding introduced by Democratic Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet.

The funding could have assisted Larimer, Weld, and El Paso counties restore their drinking water supplies following last summer’s deadly wildfires. Udall Spokesman Mike Saccone says they’re hopeful the House will include the watershed funding in a second disaster relief bill being brought to the floor January 15th.

“Senator Udall is going to be looking at the bills that are coming out of the house, to see if they include this critical funding for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.  Certainly, he believes we need to provide relief for the communities that were affected by last summer’s devastating and record breaking wildfires.”

Last month the senators introduced the $125 million measure to boost resources for the program. The funding would increase the programs scope for helping states repair damaged drinking water infrastructure. It would also repair critical watersheds suffering from drought.

Both Senators introduced an amendment in September to a U.S. House of Representatives Continuing Resolution proposal to keep the government running for the next six months. The amendment looks to secure emergency funding for the watershed relief program.

Any new disaster relief bill would need to be approved by both chambers of Congress.

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