United States Senator Dean Heller held a rural Nevada press conference call with four reporters from around the state on April 26. Earlier that day, the Senate approved a water management amendment to the current Energy and Water appropriations bill. Heller co-sponsored the amendment with his fellow Senator representing Nevada, Harry Reid.

“The Colorado River is the lifeblood of Southern Nevada, supplying over 90% of southern Nevada’s water supplies,” said Heller in a press release. “That’s why I worked with Senator Reid on this amendment that supports innovative water conservation projects that bolster our region’s water security. Given the current drought situation, it is essential that we stretch every drop of western water as far as it will go.”

According to the press release, the voluntary program compensates reductions in water use and water efficiency upgrades in order to keep more water in the Colorado River.

Responding to a question from the Ely Times, Heller elaborated on his water strategy during the call.

“Without water, there’s no growth in the West,” Heller said. “What are important are regional partnerships. Irrigation districts, commercial businesses and infrastructure agreements with local and tribal governments have saved 160,000 households worth of water. Without conservation, there is no growth model. There are currently 19 different agreements to assure water for growth in the Southwest. As for the Southern Nevada Water Authority pipeline, we continue to monitor the situation, but we’re very careful due to future obligations that we will have here in Washington.”

Heller is also a member of a recent bipartisan effort to normalize relations with Cuba, having traveled to the country twice in the last six months.

“I have supported lifting the travel ban so Cubans can travel to the U.S. and Americans can travel to Cuba,” Heller said in response to a question from the Ely Times. “I’m not supportive of the regime, I’m supportive of the people. They need more economic opportunities, opportunities that are available to Americans.”

President Barack Obama recently used his executive authority in March to loosen travel and trade restrictions with the island. The United States and Cuba formally reestablished diplomatic relations in August. The Federal Communications Commission also removed Cuba from its exclusion list in January, allowing American telecommunications companies to provide services.

“The FCC restrictions have been lifted for wi-fi, internet and cell phones,” Heller said. “I’m kind of enthusiastic about it. There are lots of economic opportunities for Cubans and Americans, and the first step was lifting the travel ban.”