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Water Bills: HR 1219




Statement of Kira L. Finkler, Deputy Commissioner

 for External and Intergovernmental Affairs

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 27, 2010

HR 1219

Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Kira Finkler, Deputy Commissioner for External and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation).I am pleased to provide the views of the Department of the Interior (Department) on H.R. 1219, the Lake Hodges Surface Water Improvement and Reclamation Act.For reasons I will discuss below, the Administration cannot support the bill.

H.R. 1219 would amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act (Public Law 102-575, 43 U.S.C. 390h et seq.), commonly called Title XVI, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the design, planning, and construction of permanent facilities needed to treat, reclaim, and reuse impaired surface water from Lake Hodges in San Diego County, California.The project is being implemented by the Olivenhain Municipal Water District (District).

In 2002, the District completed the David C. McCollom Water Treatment Plant (Plant) to treat water from the Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir so that it could be distributed for potable purposes.Olivenhain Dam was constructed by the District and the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) as a component of the emergency water supply project being implemented by the SDCWA.The Dam was completed in 2003, and its reservoir consists almost entirely of imported water.The Plant is located immediately downstream of the dam.The District and SDCWA are constructing a tunnel and pump-generation facility that will link the Olivenhain Reservoir to nearby Lake Hodges.This will increase the local water supply by about 13,000 acre-feet per year by enabling water that would otherwise be spilled from Lake Hodges and lost to the ocean during high runoff events to be stored in the Olivenhain Reservoir.The watershed for Lake Hodges is highly urbanized, and Lake Hodges has been listed as an impaired water body.The introduction of water from Lake Hodges into the Olivenhain Reservoir will require additional treatment facilities and changes to the existing facilities at the Plant in order to continue to produce acceptable potable water from the Olivenhain Reservoir.This project will implement these required facilities.

In July, 2008, the District submitted a feasibility study to Reclamation for this project.The feasibility study was reviewed in accordance with our Directives and Standards, and on October 20, 2008, Reclamation formally approved the feasibility study.Reclamation has also been working with the District to complete compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act for this project.

H.R. 1219 would authorize the project under Title XVI for Federal funding not to exceed 25 percent or $20 million, whichever is less.

While the Department supports efforts to increase local water supplies and increase recycled water use, this project would compete for funds with other needs within the Reclamation program, including other Title XVI projects currently under construction.In general, the Department supports the Title XVI Reclamation and Reuse program.The 2011 budget proposal includes funding for the Department's WaterSMART Program, and Title XVI is an important element of that program.Specifically, the 2011 budget proposal includes $29 million for the Title XVI program, a 113% increase over the 2010 enacted level.

As part of this total, the Department is requesting $20 million for Title XVI projects to be selected using criteria to identify activities most closely aligned with Title XVI statutory and program goals.On March 15, 2010, Reclamation posted an announcement inviting comment on draft funding criteria for Title XVI projects.After these criteria are finalized with comments received up through April 16, Reclamation will review and rank Title XVI project proposals received based on those criteria subject to appropriations in fiscal year 2011.

Separately, in July of 2009, the Department announced the allocation of approximately $135 million in grants for specific authorized Title XVI projects using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA.We recognize that water reuse is an essential tool in stretching the limited water supplies in the West, and I believe the FY 2011 Budget request on top of the ARRA funding has demonstrated the emphasis placed by this Administration on this Program.However, given that there are 53 already authorized Title XVI projects and numerous competing mission priorities and demands on Reclamation's budget, the Department cannot support the authorization of new Title XVI projects or extensions of existing authorized cost ceilings at this time.

Reclamation will, however, continue to work with project proponents to evaluate the completeness of feasibility studies of their projects.

Madam Chairwoman, this concludes my testimony.Thank you for the opportunity to comment on H.R. 1219.I would be pleased to answer any questions at this time.