S.201 - Water and Power Bills



Statement of David Murillo, Deputy Commissioner, Operations

Bureau of Reclamation

U.S. Department of the Interior

Before the

Committee on Energy & Natural Resources

Subcommittee on Water and Power 

United States Senate

S. 201
May 19, 2011

Madam Chairwoman 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 U.S. Department of the Interior (Department) on S. 201, legislation specific to lands underlying the C.C. Cragin Dam, Reservoir and utility corridor (C.C. Cragin project) in Arizona.  The legislation seeks to clarify federal jurisdiction with respect to the C.C. Cragin project, which includes a dam, reservoir, and 11.5-mile utility corridor containing a transmission line and high-pressure pipeline.  The project is located nearly entirely within the Coconino National Forest in north-central Arizona.

Language included in the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA, Public Law 108-451) created questions about the respective jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service) and Reclamation related to the C.C. Cragin project.  We have come to an agreement that we think can resolve this issue.  This legislation is consistent with that arrangement.  We look forward to continue working with the Committee on reaching a resolution.

Reclamation and the Forest Service worked closely with the Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District (SRP), the entity that operates and maintains the C.C. Cragin project under the AWSA, and reached agreement in mid-2010 on legislation to clarify jurisdiction of the Federal agencies.  The legislation, S. 1080, was considered during the 2nd session of the 111th Congress.  The bill was not enacted during the last Congress, but both S. 201 and its companion bill, H.R. 489, contain the same provisions as S. 1080, as reported.

This legislation accommodates the needs of Reclamation and SRP by ceding exclusive administrative jurisdiction over the lands underlying the C.C. Cragin project to Reclamation and by expressly acknowledging SRP’s responsibility for operating and maintaining the C.C. Cragin project pursuant to the AWSA and the 1917 agreement between the Department and SRP.  This is a unique situation due to the AWSA. In addition, this approach accommodates the Forest Service by allowing the agency to manage the lands underlying the utility corridor with respect to recreation, wildfire, law enforcement, and other activities consistent with the Forest Service’s authorities, responsibilities, and expertise; the AWSA; the 1917 agreement; and the existing right-of-way over the utility corridor held by another party.  This approach would allow for integrated management of tens of thousands of acres of ecosystems across National Forest System lands underlying and adjacent to the C.C. Cragin project, including watershed, wildlife habitat, range, and vegetation management.  S. 201 allows for a workable agreement for both day-to-day activities and other activities that will improve the management and safety of the covered land.  The Administration believes that this legislation provides a sound approach for future management of the C.C. Cragin project.  Both Reclamation and the Forest Service are committed to working diligently with SRP to ensure needed work for the C.C. Cragin project can be accomplished expeditiously, including any necessary emergency and non-emergency repairs and replacement of improvements, in full compliance with applicable law, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, as provided in the AWSA. 

Reclamation’s long-standing experience working with SRP over nearly a century has been very productive.  SRP has proven to be a responsible and reliable operator and caretaker of U.S. interests and resources.  Reclamation and SRP have nearly a century of responsible stewardship in regard to both the technical operation of dams and reservoirs and protection of natural resources.  It is our hope that combining that history with the Forest Service’s land management authorities and expertise would result in even more effective stewardship. 

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