H.R. 30 - Water Project Bills

Statement of Larry Todd, Deputy Commissioner

Bureau of Reclamation

U.S. Department of the Interior

Before the

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Subcommittee on Water and Power

On H.R. 30

August 1, 2007

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Larry Todd, Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Administration and Budget with the Bureau of Reclamation. I am pleased to be here today to give the Department's views on H.R. 30, the Eastern Municipal Water District Recycled Water System Pressurization and Expansion Project Act. The Department cannot support H.R. 30.

In 1992, Congress adopted, and the President signed, the Reclamation Projects Authorization and Adjustment Act (Public Law 102-575). Title XVI of this Act, the Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act, authorized the Secretary to participate in the planning, design and construction of five water reclamation and reuse projects. The Bureau of Reclamation has been administering a grant program to fund these Title XVI projects since 1994, and the Act has been amended to authorize a total of 32 projects.

H.R. 30 would amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act (43 U.S.C. 390h et seq.), to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the design, planning, and construction of improvements to the Eastern Municipal Water District's reclaimed water distribution system in Riverside County, California. It provides for Federal funding of 25 percent of the total project cost or $12 million, whichever is less.

Eastern's five water reclamation plants currently produce about 52,000 acre-feet per year. The reclaimed water is distributed by a gravity flow system primarily serving agricultural users. This project would create a pressurized distribution system suitable for municipal users, including at least four reservoir tanks of about 4 million gallons capacity each, with associated pipelines and pumping stations. The distribution system may also be expanded eastward to serve existing citrus groves. Project benefits include local drought protection and reduced dependence on imported water.

Mr. Chairman, the Department supports efforts to increase local water supplies and increase recycled water use in southern California. However, given the costs of the currently active Title XVI projects, we cannot support the authorization of new projects at this time. Of the 32 specific Title XVI projects authorized to date, 21 have received funding. The remaining estimated total authorized Federal cost share of these 21 active Title XVI projects is at least $328 million.

Additionally, Reclamation is currently working with the District to review the technical work completed to date and to identify the additional work necessary to prepare a complete feasibility report meeting the feasibility requirements of Title XVI projects. However, because the technical studies are not complete, the feasibility and cost effectiveness of this project cannot be determined, as required by Title XVI.

While Reclamation does not support new authorizations for Federal cost sharing of water recycling projects, we understand that the projects established by Title XVI are important to many water users in the West. To that end, Reclamation has set about revising and improving 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 H.R. 30. I would be happy to answer any questions at this time.

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