Water Projects and Systems: H.R. 3437

Statement of Robert Johnson, Commissioner

Bureau of Reclamation

U.S. Department of the Interior

Before the

House Natural Resources Committee

Subcommittee on Water and Power

H.R. 3437

October 24, 2007

Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee, my name is Bob Johnson, and I am Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. Thank you for the opportunity to appear today to present the Department's views on H.R. 3437, a bill to authorize funding for repair to the Mancos Project (Project) and referred to as the Jackson Gulch Rehabilitation Project (Rehabilitation). This bill would require that 80% of the costs of project rehabilitation activity that would be authorized under this bill's provisions be borne by taxpayers. Project rehabilitation is currently the contractual obligation of the Mancos Water Conservancy District (District) to fulfill pursuant to its standing O&M contract. Relieving the District of this obligation would set a precedent for other projects across the country in need of rehabilitation. For these reasons, the Administration opposes this bill.

The Project is located in southwestern Colorado near Mancos, consisting of a 10,000 acre-foot reservoir, an inlet canal, and an outlet canal. This Project provides supplemental irrigation water for approximately 13,746 acres of irrigated farmland. Additionally, this project provides municipal and industrial (M&I) water for the Town of Mancos and the surrounding rural area, and to Mesa Verde National Park.

The Project was completed in 1948. During the twenty-year period from 1942 to 1962, the District paid Reclamation in advance for O&M costs for Project facilities. However, in 1962, responsibility for O&M of the facilities was fully transferred to the District as provided for in the Repayment Contract. Title to Project facilities remains with the United States.

The proposed legislation would authorize $6,452,311 for the federal share of the cost of rehabilitating the 59-year old Project. This amount represents 80% of the costs of rehabilitation. Reclamation has previously assisted the District in cost estimates for the new work and has also assisted in reviewing their current project needs for a long term rehabilitation plan. The District has completed a study through a private engineering firm to assess the Project needs and to prepare a study for the repair/replacement of facilities. The requested funds appear sufficient to make the needed repairs and improvements, as outlined in the District's plan.

Reclamation agrees that there is a need for rehabilitation of the Project. Due to its age, major rehabilitation is needed on the inlet and outlet canals and associated structures. Delivery of agricultural and M&I water could be affected if these repairs are not completed. The District, however, is solely responsible for the operation, maintenance, and replacement of these facilities, pursuant to their contract and should not be relieved of that obligation.

Madam Chairwoman, this concludes my testimony. I am pleased to answer any questions.

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