A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Robert Quint, Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. I am pleased to be here today to provide the Department of the Interior's views on H.R. 2498, a bill to authorize a study on coordinating and integrating sub-regional interrelated regional water management plans into a unified integrated plan in the San Joaquin River and Tulare Lake Hydrologic Regions in the San Joaquin Valley of California.
Ongoing activities in Reclamation's Central Valley Project in California are currently addressing the need targeted by this proposed study. Furthermore, the legislation does not identify a Reclamation funding source for the study and without an additional appropriation, it would be drawn from other existing programs, compromising that work. As such, the Administration does not support H.R. 2498 at this time.
This legislation would direct the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Reclamation, to award a grant to the California Water Institute, not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act. The Institute would prepare an Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (Plan) for the eight counties encompassed by the two hydrologic basins that would address issues related to water quality, water supply (both surface and groundwater banking, and brackish water desalination), water conveyance, water reliability, flood control, water resource-related environmental enhancement, and population growth.
H.R. 2498 also directs the Secretary to ensure that a report containing the results of the Plan is submitted to this Committee and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources not later than 24 months after the grant is awarded and authorizes the appropriation of $1 million to carry out the Act.
There are many water supply issues in the San Joaquin Valley and many of these issues have a Federal nexus. It is important for local communities to evaluate and address the future needs and find solutions for potential shortfalls. Through the existing Acts authorizing various units and divisions of the Central Valley Project, Reclamation is already actively working on issues that could be evaluated by the Plan. These issues include water quality and supply, surface and groundwater banking, water conveyance, water reliability, flood control, and water resource-related environmental enhancement.
Reclamation has concerns about the budget impact of H.R. 2498. H.R. 2498 also does not identify a specific Reclamation program or activity responsible for the Institute's grant. Potential sources include CALFED, Upper San Joaquin River Basin Storage Investigation, San Joaquin River Restoration Program, San Luis Unit Drainage, and the Salinity and Boron Total Maximum Daily Load on the Lower San Joaquin River.
In addition, the legislation does not specify actions Reclamation should take to ensure that the Institute submits a report to Congress within the 24–month timeframe referenced in the bill.
That concludes my prepared remarks. I would be pleased to answer any questions.