Water Resources: HR 5487



STATEMENT OF JOHN TUBBS, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY

FOR WATER AND SCIENCE

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

BEFORE THE

COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES

SUBCOMMITTEE ON WATER AND POWER

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ON

H.R. 5487, "WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH ACT AMENDMENTS OF 2010"

June 17, 2010

Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the Departments 's views on H.R. 5487, "Water Resources Research Amendments Act of 2010," a bill to reauthorize grants for fiscal year FY 2012 through 2016 for applied water supply research regarding the water resources research and technology institutes established under the Water Resources Research Act of 1984.

The Department agrees with the goals of the Water Resources Research Act of 1984, specifically to support academic research to aid in the resolution of State and regional water problems, to promote technology transfer, and to provide for training of scientists and engineers. The program authorized by this Act involves collaboration that includes other Federal partners, plus State and local governments, universities, and the private sector. The Department strongly supports H.R. 5487 to reauthorize grants for applied water supply research. This program has proven to be a success and continues to make valuable contributions.

Evaluations are currently required every 3 years, but this bill changes the evaluation period from 3 years to 5 years as authorized in previous legislation. The Department supports this revision for reasons of both cost and effectiveness. Because research projects take more than 3 years to complete and publish, a 5 year cycle allows a better evaluation of the program.

In addition, there is growing evidence that strong research of water resources issues will be increasingly important as water managers work to adapt water programs to more variable hydrologic conditions as a result of a changing climate. The legislation should recognize the importance of addressing climate change related issues as part of a larger water resources agenda. The legislation provides a mechanism to encourage graduate students in research projects related to climate change. Research priorities under section 104(g) are set jointly by the Institutes and the Secretary of the Interior and could therefore include topics related to climate change and could place an emphasis on projects involving graduate students.

Program Overview

The Water Resources Research Act of 1984 established a Federal-State partnership in water resources research, education, and information transfer through a matching grant program that authorizes State Water Resources Research Institutes at land grant universities across the Nation. There are currently 54 Institutes: one in each State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. The Guam institute also serves the Federated States of Micronesia and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The Institutes provide new opportunities for young people through their research and educational efforts. Student internships supported by the Institutes provide an invaluable and practical training experience for the next generation of hydrologic scientists and engineers and afford students the unprecedented opportunity to participate in research projects while helping to influence their decision to pursue careers in water resources.

The Water Resources Research Act Program provides an institutional mechanism for promoting State, regional, and national coordination of water resources research, training coordination, and information and technology transfer. In 2009, the program provided training and support to over 500 undergraduate and graduate students by involving them in institute-sponsored research activities funded under the Act. With its matching requirements, the program is also a key mechanism for promoting State investments in research and training. In fact, the Institutes have developed a constituency and a program that far exceeds that supported by their direct Federal appropriation. As part of the ongoing evaluation mandated by the Act, the institutes reported that over the 5-year period 2003 through 2007, they obtained over $346 million in funding from state, local, and other federal agencies through grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, and other arrangements. This is an annual average of $69 million, or $1.3 million per institute.

Each Institute operates a program of multi-year research, education, and information transfer projects focused on State and regional water resource priorities. In 2009, the Institutes supported 225 applied research projects utilizing Federal and matching funds. Most institutes selected these projects in response to priorities established by the Institutes' advisory committees and through a competitive, peer-review process.

Conclusion

The Department strongly supports H.R. 5487 reauthorizing the Water Resources Resource Act. This program has proven to be a successful partnership that continues to make valuable contributions.

This concludes my formal statement, Madam Chairwoman