Water Bills: HR 2522



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 2522

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. 2522, a proposal to raise the ceiling on the Federal share of the cost of the Calleguas Municipal Water District (District) Recycling Project.For reasons I will discuss below, the Administration cannot support the bill.

H.R. 2522 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 increase the ceiling on the Federal share of the costs of the Calleguas project to $60 million.This project is authorized by Section 1616 of Title XVI, and the Federal share of this project is currently limited to 25 percent of the total cost, or a maximum contribution of $20 million.

The District submitted a feasibility study as required by the Title XVI statute, and it was certified as complete in April of 2000.  The feasibility study included nine distinct components:five wastewater reclamation and reuse projects, three brackish groundwater recovery projects, and a regional brine disposal project.A cooperative agreement was executed in September 2000, to provide Federal funding for one of the wastewater reclamation and reuse projects known as the Conejo Creek Diversion Project.This project was completed in September, 2003, and is currently producing about 9,000 acre-feet of recycled water annually.The total Federal share for this component was almost $1.7 million.

In January, 2003, a cooperative agreement was executed to provide federal funding for the Regional Brine Line component.To date, Reclamation has provided about $10 million to the District as the federal share of costs for this facility, which will provide a means to dispose of brine wastes from facilities such as brackish groundwater recovery projects throughout Ventura County.In addition, Reclamation has executed a cooperative agreement with the District to provide about $5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for a specific reach of the Brine Line.

The Regional Brine Line is being constructed in three phases, starting with Phase 1 near the coast, and progressing inland.The current estimated cost of Phase 1, which includes an ocean outfall, is about $76 million.The 25 percent federal share of Phase 1 would be $19 million, which would obviously be reduced slightly because Reclamation has already provided $1.7 million for the Conejo Creek Diversion Project.The last reach of Phase 1 is the ARRA-funded section, which is scheduled to be completed in 2011, after which this reach will be placed in operation.

Due to the current ceiling, there would be no additional Federal funds available for Phases 2 and 3, which together are estimated to cost about $145 million; nor for any of the remaining seven projects that were identified in the feasibility study due to the current ceiling.

H.R. 1219 would authorize an additional $40 million for the Calleguas project under Title XVI, which would establish the Federal funding as not to exceed 25 percent or $60 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 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. 2522.I would be pleased to answer any questions at this time.