Sinema, Lee introduce Hoover Dam funding bill



(The Center Square) – Arizona Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Nevada Rep. Susie Lee introduced legislation this week aimed at enabling $45 million in Bureau of Reclamation funds to be used for helping the Hoover Dam.

Proponents of the “Help Hoover Dam Act” say it would cut regulations and allow the bureau to tap into the Colorado River Dam Fund to support efforts related to the dam’s upkeep.

Ed Gerak, Executive Director of Irrigation and Electrical Districts of Arizona, said in a statement that the funding could help mitigate possible price increases for electricity.

“This bill will allow the Bureau of Reclamation to use previously collected customer funding for its intended purposes, operation, maintenance and repair of the dam,” Gerak said.

“These funds have been collected for over two decades by fiat, but they have been stranded and inaccessible to the Bureau. Hoover Dam generation is down nearly 40% during this time, due to the worst drought in modern history. This bill will allow the Bureau to maintain Hoover Dam while protecting power customers from rate shock in the near future,” he continued.

Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly, as well as all the senators from Nevada and California are in support of the legislation. In the House, there is support from Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego, Grace Napolitano, Dina Titus, Steven Horsford and Greg Stanton as co-sponsors. On the Republican side, Reps. Paul Gosar, Juan Ciscomani, Debbie Lesko and Mark Amodei are co-sponsors.

“We can’t let government bureaucracy stop us from making necessary investments in the Hoover Dam — Nevadans depend on it for clean power, precious water resources, and countless recreational opportunities. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will help keep our energy prices from going up, protect our natural resources and save taxpayers money,” Lee said in a statement.

The Hoover Dam was built and began operation in the 1930s to serve a growing population in the southwestern United States. According to the Arizona Power Authority, the dam impacts the electricity of roughly 8 million people.

Energy and water policy continue to be top of mind for leaders in Colorado River basin states, as they try to find ways to serve a high population while stewarding limited resources.

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