Family Farm Alliance: Sen. Feinstein, Rep. Harder, Introduce Airborne Snow Observation Bill
Representative Josh Harder (D-CA) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) last week introduced H.R. 8041/S. 4530, the Snow Water Supply Forecasting Program Authorization Act to establish an airborne snow observatory (ASO) and measurement program within the Department of the Interior. According to a joint statement, without accurate readings water managers could be forced to unnecessarily release water from reservoirs, resulting in millions of dollars in financial losses.
A previous program run by NASA is no longer in operation, leaving water managers without the public information they need to make smart decisions about their water supplies. The bill would establish a program, with the Bureau of Reclamation as the lead coordinating federal agency, and would authorize a total of $15 million for fiscal years 2022 to 2026.
Conventional survey techniques can only achieve 50 to 90 percent accuracy when measuring snow runoff. The ASO technology developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory can perform more precise measurements, increasing the accuracy to within 96 to 99 percent when paired with conventional techniques, providing an error rate as low as 1 to 3 percent. More precise measurements allow water managers to make better determinations on water allocations, using more water when it’s available and conserving water when it’s not.
“ASO technology generates data that greatly improves our ability to estimate water supply and runoff in the Western United States,” said Dan Keppen, Executive Director of the Family Farm Alliance in the joint statement. “We appreciate and want to thank Congressman Harder and Sen. Feinstein for their leadership on this issue, and we’re hopeful that this legislation will allow for continued ASO application in California and the expansion of ASO technology application throughout the West.”
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