Several Democratic senators and representatives from California introduced a bill on Friday that would create an airborne snow observatory and measurement program within the Department of the Interior that would provide water managers with more accurate readings to make better water control decisions.
The Snow Water Supply Forecasting Program Authorization Act was introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris and Representatives Josh Harder, John Garamendi, Jerry McNerney, TJ Cox, Grace Napolitano, Ami Bera and Jim Costa. Reps. Joe Neguse and Diana DeGette, Democrats from Colorado, also cosponsored the bill.
“This will help improve water conservation, supply and delivery forecasts across the Western United States,” Feinstein said in a release. "This will help improve water conservation, supply and delivery forecasts across the Western United States.”
The act would replace the NASA ASO program that used an airplane-mounted light detection instrument and imaging spectrometer to measure snowpack depth and water content. The bill provides $15 million in funding for the Department of the Interior to measure snowpacks from fiscal year 2022 to 2026.
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According to the release, the typical survey techniques for snowpack measurements can only achieve 50 to 90% accuracy, while ASO technology can achieve 96 to 99%.
The bill won support from water associations and districts across California, including the Association of California Water Agencies, Turlock Irrigation District, Modesto Irrigation District, South Valley Water Association, Friant Water Authority, Family Farm Alliance, Kings River Conservation District, San Juan Water District, City of Folsom and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
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