Water and Power Bills: H.R. 31

Statement of Kris Polly

Deputy 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 8, 2008

HR 31

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 of the Interior's views on HR 31, the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District Wastewater and Recycled Water Facilities Act. Although the Wildomar portion of this project has been deemed technically feasible, the Department does not support HR 31.

HR 31 would amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act (Public Law 102-575, 43 U.S.C. 390h et seq.), to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the design, planning, and construction of facilities needed to treat wastewater and distribute recycled water within the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District's service area. It provides for Federal funding of 25 percent of the total project cost or $12.5 million, whichever is less.

The Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District is located in southwestern Riverside County, which has been experiencing rapid growth. The District is heavily dependent on imported water provided by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. In order to lessen this dependence and to provide for additional future growth, the District is developing plans for recycled water systems in the Alberhill and Wildomar areas.

The Alberhill system consists of a wastewater treatment facility and distribution system, which includes pumps, pipelines, and storage facilities. A preliminary construction cost estimate of the Alberhill system is $38.5 million. The Wildomar system consists of a distribution system which includes pumps, pipelines, and storage facilities. Total estimated cost of the Wildomar system is about $19 million.

Reclamation has determined the Wildomar project to be feasible on November 15, 2007. The Alberhill system has not been reviewed.

While the Department supports efforts to increase local water supplies and increase recycled water use, we do not support HR 31. These projects 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 31. I would be happy to answer any questions at this time.

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