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Sen. Mark Kelly To Chair Congressional Hearing On Drought In Arizona, Western States

U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly announced he will chair a congressional hearing on the ongoing drought in western states, including Arizona.

Kelly will chair the Subcommittee on Water and Power, part of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on Oct. 6.

The senator requested the hearing in August, after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation declared a shortage of the Colorado River for the first time.

“Securing Arizona’s water future is an urgent priority. The Colorado River is the lifeblood of many Arizona cities, tribal communities, and generations of farmers,” Kelly said in a statement. “I look forward to chairing this hearing to ensure Washington understands how the drought is impacting Arizona and the west, and to discuss how we can increase resiliency and improve water management.”

The declaration means some Arizona farmers will have to cut their water usage in 2022. Arizona is one of a handful of western states that agreed to relinquish shares of their water rights to maintain levels at Lake Mead, one of the Colorado River’s two largest reservoirs, as part of a drought contingency plan.

Roughly 40 million people rely on the river for their water.

Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.