Water Bills: H.R. 1803

Statement of Robert W. Johnson,

Commissioner, 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 24, 2008

H.R. 1803

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Robert W. Johnson, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. I am pleased to be here today to present the Department's views regarding H.R. 1803, the San Diego Water Storage and Efficiency Act of 2007. The Department supports the goals of this bill, and would support the bill if amended as described in this statement.

H.R. 1803 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a feasibility study to design and construct a four reservoir intertie system for the purposes of improving the water storage opportunities, water supply reliability, and water yield in San Diego County, California. In cooperation and consultation with the City of San Diego and the Sweetwater Authority, the investigation would determine whether a system of pumps and pipelines interconnecting four non-Federal reservoirs (San Vicente Reservoir, El Capitan Reservoir, Loveland Reservoir, and Lake Murray) would improve water management opportunities. The legislation authorizes an appropriation of $3 million for the investigation.

The Bureau of Reclamation recommends that this bill be amended to provide that before undertaking a full feasibility study, Reclamation should first carry out an appraisal investigation to determine the prudence of a feasibility study for the proposed intertie system. Only if the appraisal investigation recommends that the proposed intertie system be studied further should the Secretary undertake a study, as authorized in this bill, to determine the feasibility of the intertie system.

As part of the feasibility authorization in this bill, the Federal cost share will not exceed 50 percent of the total study costs. The proposed legislation only authorizes a feasibility investigation. The outcome of the feasibility investigation would be an important factor in whether the Secretary would recommend that Congress enact further authorization for construction of the proposed reservoir and intertie project.

The Department is aware of local efforts to study various ways to increase local water supplies and reliability in southern California. As Watermaster of the Colorado River, the Department would benefit from improved efficiency of use of imported water in California. An intertie system such as the project proposed might allow San Diego County, located at the end of the Colorado River, and State Water Project distribution systems, the ability to better manage their imported supplies, improve reliability and move water more effectively within several reservoirs to receive the benefits of available storage. This project, if found to be feasible, could be a valuable tool under the California 4.4 Plan to improve and better utilize imported water from the Colorado River.

The Bureau of Reclamation is currently working with the City of San Diego and the Sweetwater Authority on other unrelated water recycling projects that help with the future needs for water of the region.

The Department supports the goal of this legislation to authorize a new feasibility investigation, and requests that the legislation be amended so that the feasibility investigation will only go forward if, on the basis of an appraisal investigation, Reclamation determines that the proposed intertie system should be studied further.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on H.R. 1803. I would be happy to answer any questions at this time.

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