Water and Power Bills: S 1473 / H.R. 1855

Statement of Robert J. Quint

Director of Operations, Bureau of Reclamation

U.S. Department of the Interior

Before the

Subcommittee on Water and Power

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


S. 1473

February 28, 2008

Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I am Robert J. Quint, Director of Operations, Bureau of Reclamation. I am pleased to present the Department of the Interior's views on

S. 1473, the Madera Water Supply Enhancement Act. While Reclamation has been an active partner with the Madera Irrigation District and other entities in studying this project, the Department does not support S. 1473.

Reclamation and the state of California have studied the Madera Water Supply Enhancement Project. The purpose of this project is to reduce the overdraft of the area's groundwater aquifer and improve water supply reliability. In March 2007, Reclamation published an appraisal report for this project and transmitted it to Congress. Appraisal reports are based upon existing information to determine whether additional studies to determine Federal feasibility are warranted.

Reclamation's March 2007 appraisal report identified several alternatives, including delineation of groundwater recharge areas; engineered recharge basins on the Madera Ranch; and direct recharge from the San Joaquin and Fresno Rivers. The cost for the project is estimated at approximately $91 million, and section 5(b) of the legislation commits the Federal government to paying 25 percent of project costs. The total storage space is 250,000 acre-feet. However, it is important to note that while a maximum of 55,000 acre-feet can be moved to and from storage in any given year, the average annual water yield is estimated to be 20,000 acre-feet per year. Altogether, an appraisal level estimate is that this project would provide water at a cost of $420 per acre-foot.

Although the bill lists eighteen studies that have been completed relating to this project, none of these studies meet Reclamation's feasibility study criteria. Because Reclamation has not completed a feasibility study of the Madera Water Supply Enhancement Project, it is premature to authorize Federal implementation at this time. Moreover, this project would directly compete for funding with other currently authorized projects in the CVP service area, including several storage studies authorized under the CALFED Program (PL 108-361).

Reclamation continues to emphasize completion of ongoing projects and the safe and effective maintenance of its aging infrastructure. Reclamation must prioritize its program activities to ensure that the most worthy projects receive funding. In light of these needs, Reclamation allocates funds to projects and programs based on objective and performance-based criteria to most effectively implement Reclamation's programs and its management responsibilities for the water and power infrastructure in the West.

The Administration appreciates local efforts to address current and future water issues. However, in light of the concerns expressed above, the Department does not support S. 1473.

That concludes my prepared remarks. I would be pleased to answer any questions.

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