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H.R. 818 - Water and Power




Statement of David Murillo, Deputy Commissioner, Operations

Bureau of Reclamation

U.S. Department of the Interior

Before the

Committee on Natural Resources

Subcommittee on Water and Power

United States House of Representatives

H.R. 818

May 12, 2011

Chairman McClintock and Members of the Subcommittee, I am David Murillo, Deputy Commissioner of Operations of the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). Thank you for the opportunity to provide the views of the Department of the Interior (Department) on H.R. 818, as introduced on February 18, 2011. This legislation allows for prepayment of the current and future repayment contract obligations of the Uintah Water Conservancy District (District) of the costs allocated to their municipal and industrial water (M&I) supply on the Jensen Unit of the Central Utah Project (CUP) and provides that the prepayment must result in the United States recovering the net present value of all repayment streams that would have been payable to the United States if H.R. 818 were not enacted. H.R. 818 would amend current law to change the date of repayment to 2022 from 2037. The legislation would also allow repayment to be provided in several installments and requires that the repayment be adjusted to conform to a final cost allocation. The Department supports H.R. 818.

The District entered into a repayment contract dated June 3, 1976, in which they agreed to repay all reimbursable costs associated with the Jensen Unit of the CUP. The Jensen Unit's total water supply was envisioned at this time to be roughly 18,000 acre-feet because plans anticipated completion of another pumping plant at a location on the Green River known as Burns Bench.

However, for a variety of reasons, the Burns Bench feature was never built. And with the enactment of language in Section 203(g) of the Central Utah Project Completion Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-575), the District's contract was amended in 1992 to reduce the project M&I supply subject to repayment to 2,000 acre-feet annually, and temporarily fix repayment for this supply based upon a reduced interim cost allocation developed for the still-uncompleted project. The amended 1992 contract required the District to repay about $5.545 million through the year 2037 at the project interest rate of 3.222% with annual payments of $226,585. The current balance due, without discounting, is $3,949,058 as of 2011.

It is important to note that this $3,949,058 figure reflects a repayment amount that is statutorily lowered by the 1992 legislation, and does not reflect the true repayment costs of the Jensen Unit. The costs allocated to the 2,000 acre-feet of contracted M&I supply, and the M&I supply available through additional incomplete project features, may be significantly revised upward in the future upon project completion or enactment of this bill, both of which would require a Final Cost Allocation. An additional currently unallocated cost of $7,419,513 is expected to be allocated to the contracted 2,000 acre-feet in order to achieve a full and final project repayment.1

1 This allocation will be subject to revision should there be additions to the project.

These are the costs that paragraph 3 of H.R. 818 requires to be included in the prepayment. The 2011 balance on the 1992 M&I repayment contract is $3,949,058 and the adjustment amount when factoring in the total project cost including interest on that debt is $7,419,513. Therefore, in total non-discounted dollars, the Conservancy District owes the Federal government $11,368,571.

Under Reclamation law, water districts are not authorized to prepay their M&I repayment obligation based upon a discounted value of their remaining annual payments.

This legislation would authorize early repayment by the Uintah Conservancy District to the Federal government. Because there is an interest component to the M&I repayment streams to be repaid early, early repayment without an adjustment for interest would result in lower overall repayment to the United States. To keep the United States whole, the Bureau of Reclamation would collect the present value of the whole amount that would be due without early repayment.

The language in H.R. 818 has been amended from the language contained in an earlier version of this legislation, H.R. 2950. The amended language clarifies that this legislation requires that the Federal government be paid what it is owed by the Conservancy District. Because the United States supports the goals of providing for early repayment under this contract so long as the United States is kept whole, and H.R. 818 clearly establishes that early repayment under this legislation must be of an amount equal to the net present value of the foregone revenue stream, the Department supports this legislation.

This concludes my testimony. I will be pleased to answer any questions.