Mount Rushmore National Memorial under construction.
The workers had to endure conditions that varied from blazing hot to bitterly cold and windy. Each day they climbed 700 stairs to the top of the mountain to punch-in on the time clock. Then 3/8 inch thick steel cables lowered them over the front of the 500-foot face of the mountain in a "bosun chair." Despite the dangers, no one was killed during the project.
Otters in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
The sea otter population of Glacier Bay has increased dramatically in the past 20 years. Ecologists consider sea otters a keystone species here. Otters consume vast quantities of clams, urchins, crabs, and other invertebrates and their presence creates ripples through the ecosystem. NPS photo.
Every day someone like you becomes a wildland wildfire fighter, a teacher, a trail-builder, a museum curator, or a park ranger. Discover your opportunities in national parks. Come to play. Come to learn. Come to serve. Develop your environmental leadership skills. Find a job. Be the next generation to preserve and protect these great places.
With more than 80% of Americans living in urban areas, urban parks are more important than ever. The father of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted, said of urban parks:
It is one great purpose of the Park to supply to the hundreds of thousands of tired workers, who have no opportunity to spend their summers in the country, a specimen of God's handiwork that shall be to them, inexpensively, what a month or two in the White Mountains or the Adirondacks is, at great cost, to those in easier circumstances.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Kris Polly, Deputy Commissioner at the Bureau of Reclamation. I am pleased to be here today to give the Department's views on HR 1737, the City of Oxnard Water Recycling and Desalination Act of 2007. Due to the reasons outlined below, the Department cannot support this legislation.
HR 1737 would amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act (43 U.S.C. 390h et seq.) to authorize the Secretary to participate in the design, planning, and construction of permanent facilities for the Groundwater Recovery Enhancement and Treatment (GREAT) project, which would reclaim impaired water in the area of Oxnard, located in Ventura County, California. It provides for Federal funding of 25 percent of the total project cost or $20 million, whichever is less.
The City of Oxnard, Port Hueneme Water Agency, United Water Conservation District, and Calleguas Municipal Water District have jointly developed the GREAT project, which consists of three parts: (1) a regional groundwater desalination facility; (2) a recycled water system to serve agricultural water users and to protect groundwater sources from seawater intrusion; and (3) a brine line that will convey desalination concentrates to an enhanced saltwater wetland. Project benefits include local drought protection and reduced dependence on imported water.
Mr. Chairman, the Department supports efforts to increase local water supplies, including brackish groundwater desalination and reclaimed water use, in southern California. However, HR 1737 would authorize the design and construction of the project before the feasibility study is completed. Reclamation prefers that feasibility studies be completed first to determine whether a particular project warrants Federal construction authorization.
With regard to this specific project, Reclamation currently is reviewing the feasibility study submitted by the City of Oxnard for this project. Therefore, the Department believes the legislation to be premature and cannot support HR 1737 at this time. This project would have to compete with other needs within the Reclamation program for funding priority in the President's budget. The Department continues to believe it is not prudent to authorize new Title XVI projects in light of the Federal cost share already authorized for Title XVI projects now being actively pursued.
Of the 35 Title XVI projects specifically authorized and 2 demonstration projects undertaken through the general authority, 21 projects are actively being pursued and 4 are complete. The Federal cost share for the active projects, after FY 2008, is nearly $400 million. The Federal cost share for the 12 projects currently not being pursued is estimated at $220 million.
While Reclamation is not supporting new project authorizations at this time, we understand that the projects established by Title XVI are important to many water users in the West. To that end, Reclamation has revised and improved its Directives and Standards that govern reviews of Title XVI projects. By doing so, we believe that Reclamation can play a more constructive role with local sponsors in weighing the merits and ultimate feasibility of proposed water recycling projects.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HR 1737. I would be happy to answer any questions at this time.