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 Robert Johnson, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. I am pleased to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 175 concerning the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District (District) Feasibility Study.
S. 175 would authorize Reclamation to conduct a Feasibility Study of alternatives to augment the water supplies of the District and cities served by the District. S.175 would also require the study to be conducted within one year of the date of enactment, and authorize $300,000 to be spent in conducting the study. The Department does not support S. 175.
The one-year timeframe for the study described in S. 175 is insufficient for a thorough evaluation of alternatives to meet future water needs of surrounding communities not presently served by the District and would be a very aggressive schedule. This timeframe would also make completion of the Feasibility Study, including preparation of the appropriate National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance document, extremely problematic and may prove difficult to achieve with any degree of accuracy.
The Department recognizes that a water need exists for the District. Reclamation is currently preparing a scope of work in coordination with the District, which focuses the plan of study to be completed.However, the Department does not support authorization of a Feasibility Study at this time.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on S. 175. This concludes my statement and I am happy to answer any questions.