Today, Reps. Burgess Owens (UT-04) and Chris Stewart (UT-02) helped reintroduce The Open Access Evapotranspiration (OpenET) Act, legislation to get critical water use data into the hands of farmers, ranchers, and decision-makers for improved water management in Utah and across the Western U.S. The bill would establish a program to use publicly available data from satellites and weather stations to provide estimates of evapotranspiration (ET), a critical measure of actual water use. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) reintroduced companion legislation in the Senate.
“Water is the lifeblood of the American West,” said Rep. Owens. “Already the second driest state in the nation, year after year of severe drought has devastated Utah’s farmers, producers, and industries. The Open Evapotranspiration Act tackles these crippling conditions by upgrading our water infrastructure to improve the tracking and management of water consumption, evaporation, and transpiration. I am proud to help reintroduce this critical legislation and will continue championing efforts in Washington to solve this generational issue facing Utahns.”
“The ongoing drought is taking a toll on everyone,” said Rep. Stewart. “It’s absolutely necessary that we get the most use out of the water we already have. That starts with giving states more consistent, accessible, and accurate data. This legislation will allow us to be more prudent with our current resources and plan for the future of our communities.”
Applications of ET data include:
- Assisting water managers, users, and decision-makers to better steward valuable resources — while helping farmers and ranchers protect the financial viability of their agricultural operations in light of the changing climate.
- Developing more accurate water budgets and innovative management programs to better promote conservation and sustainability efforts.
- Employing data-driven groundwater management practices and understanding the impacts of consumptive water use.