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.
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 present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 609, concerning the Central Texas Water Recycling and Reuse Project in the State of Texas. The Department cannot support H.R. 609.
H.R. 609 would amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act (Public Law 102-575), to authorize the Secretary of the Interior, in cooperation with the City of Waco and other participating communities, to participate in the design, planning, and construction of permanent facilities to reclaim and reuse water in McLennan County, Texas. It also provides for Federal funding of 25 percent of the total project cost.
Mr. Chairman, the Department supports efforts to increase local water supplies and increase recycled water use. 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.
In addition, the Administration does not support construction authorizations when a Feasibility Report has not been completed. These reports ensure that proposed projects are cost-effective, meet environmental compliance requirements, and are consistent with the overall objectives of the Title XVI program. Reclamation recently met with the local sponsor to discuss Federal funding under the Title XVI program, as well as appraisal and feasibility report requirements. Receipt of these reports would enable Reclamation to comment on the merits and determine the project's qualification for consideration of Federal funding.
While Reclamation cannot currently support new water recycling project authorizations, we understand that the projects established by Title XVI are important to many water users in the West. To that end, Reclamation is in the process of improving its Directives and Standards that govern reviews of Title XVI projects. By doing so, we believe that Reclamation can work more closely with local sponsors in weighing the merits and ultimate feasibility of proposed water recycling projects.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on H.R. 609. This concludes my statement and I would be happy to answer any questions.