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Water and Power Bills: H.R. 1140




Statement of Kris Polly

Deputy Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation

U.S. Department of the Interior

before the

Subcommittee on Water and Power

Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

United States Senate

April 8, 2008

H.R. 1140

Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I am Kris Polly, Deputy Commissioner at the Bureau of Reclamation. I am here today to present the views of the Department of the Interior on HR 1140, a bill to authorize water recycling projects in Southern California.  HR 1140 would amend Title XVI, the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act (P.L. 102-575) to include design, planning, and construction authority for two local projects.  For reasons described below, the Department does not support HR 1140.

HR 1140, as written, would amend Title XVI to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the design, planning, and construction of two water recycling projects in south Orange County in the State of California.

Section 2 of the bill would authorize the San Juan Capistrano Recycled Water System, with a Federal cost share not to exceed 25 percent, and a funding authorization of appropriation of $18.5 million.  Reclamation reviewed this project as part of the CALFED/TitleXVI review and found the information submitted for this project lacked 6 of the 9 requirements needed to determine feasibility. Absent these items, Reclamation could not determine the feasibility of the project. This does not mean the project is not feasible, but rather that until the six remaining items are completed, Reclamation cannot provide a feasibility determination.

Section 2 of the bill would also authorize the San Clemente Reclaimed Water Project. The local district has not been in consultation with Reclamation nor has Reclamation received any copies of a feasibility study to support the authorization of this project.  Without a proper analysis to ensure this project meets appropriate federal guidelines for consideration of construction authorization, we cannot support Reclamation's participation in the planning, design and construction activities.

While the Department supports efforts to increase local water supplies and increase recycled water use, we do not support H.R. 1140.  This project would have to compete with other needs within the Reclamation program for funding priority in the President's Budget.  The Department continues to believe it is not prudent to authorize new Title XVI projects in light of the Federal cost share already authorized for Title XVI projects now being actively pursued. 

Of the 35 Title XVI projects specifically authorized and 2 demonstration projects undertaken through the general authority, 21 projects are actively being pursued and 4 are complete.  The Federal cost share for the active projects, after FY 2008, is nearly $400 million. The Federal cost share for the 12 projects currently not being pursued is estimated at $220 million.

While Reclamation is not supporting new project authorizations at this time, we understand that the projects established by Title XVI are important to many water users in the West.  To that end, Reclamation revised and improved its Directives and Standards that govern reviews of Title XVI projects.  By doing so, we believe that Reclamation can play a more constructive role with local sponsors in weighing the merits and ultimate feasibility of proposed water recycling projects.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes by testimony.  Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HR 1140.  I would be happy to answer any questions at this time.