Secretary Zinke Applauds President Trump’s Memorandum on Western Water

Last edited 9/29/2021

Date: October 19, 2018

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke cheered President Trump’s memorandum on western water. The memorandum directs the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce to work together to deliver western communities the water supplies they need to irrigate millions of acres of farmland and provide water and power to millions of Americans.

“Water is the lifeblood of any thriving economy, and its importance in the West cannot be overstated,” said Secretary Zinke. “We want to use water in the most practical sense, and make sure our water infrastructure is in world class shape for all uses. Working to get our farms the water they need is key to rural prosperity, and I applaud President Trump for making this key issue a top priority of his administration.”

There is widespread recognition that a 'status quo' approach to the longstanding imbalances in the supply and demand of water will not be effective. Under President Trump, Secretary Zinke and Secretary Ross, federal agencies are taking a proactive approach to tackling the water supply challenges that confront western communities. This has entailed operational changes as well as specific new investments in water and power infrastructure. The active collaboration by Interior and Commerce on the areas described in the Memorandum will position western communities to have the most abundant water and power supplies possible, assuring their place in a secure and prosperous American economy. 

The Memorandum directs the Interior and Commerce Departments to take a number of specific actions, including:

  • Expediting regulatory actions essential to the operation of water infrastructure
  • Improving the information and modeling capabilities related to water availability
  • Expanding use of water desalination and water recycling
  • Accelerating and clarifying requirements for compliance with the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act
  • Removing unnecessary burdens unique to the operation of the Columbia River Basin’s water infrastructure

“For too long, the tail has wagged the dog when it comes to our infrastructure and western water,” said Secretary Zinke. “The environmental laws and regulations that have been in place over decades can be implemented in such a way that supports our economy while still enhancing our environment. That challenge is something that motivates President Trump and this leadership team, and we are taking decisive action.”

The Memorandum on Western Water will re-prioritize agency funding toward accelerated completion of regulatory actions that, in the past, have been drawn out over several years, and result in better outcomes sooner.

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