Statement of Kira L. Finkler, Deputy Commissioner
for External and Intergovernmental Affairs
Bureau of Reclamation
U.S. Department of the Interior
Subcommittee on Water and Power
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
April 27, 2010
Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Kira Finkler, Deputy Commissioner for External and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). I am pleased to provide the views of the Department of the Interior (Department) on S. 1138, the Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program (BARWRP) Expansion Act of 2009. For reasons I will discuss below, the Administration cannot support the bill.
S. 1138 would amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act (Public Law 102-575, 43 U.S.C. 390h et seq.), commonly called Title XVI, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the design, planning, and construction of six new permanent facilities needed to reclaim, reuse, and treat groundwater and wastewater in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. The legislation would also increase the Federal cost share for two previously-authorized Title XVI projects in the same area from $10.5 million to $16.3 million. S. 1138 would increase the number of BARWRP projects from eight to fourteen. These new projects are being implemented by the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District, the Dublin San Ramon Services District, the City of Petaluma, the City of Redwood City, the City of Palo Alto, and the Ironhouse Sanitary District. The Federal cost share increases would be for the Delta Diablo Sanitation District and the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
The Central Contra Costa Sanitary District's Concord Recycled Water Project feasibility report has been reviewed by Reclamation; a feasibility certification is expected to be made in April 2010.
The Dublin San Ramon Services District's Central Dublin Recycled Water Distribution and Retrofit Project's feasibility materials were determined complete in December 2009.
The City of Petaluma's Petaluma Recycled Water Project, Phase 2A, 2B, and 3 has not been determined to have a complete feasibility study. The City expects to submit feasibility materials by June 2010.
The City of Redwood City has not submitted a complete feasibility report, financial capability information, or a NEPA compliance document for Reclamation's review and determination for the Central Redwood City Recycled Water Project. The City is currently updating its city-wide General Plan; it is planned to be adopted by City Council in summer of 2010. Planning for the Central Redwood City project, including preparation of a feasibility report will begin after adoption of the General Plan.
The City of Palo Alto's Recycled Water Pipeline Project has not been determined to have a complete feasibility study. The City has not submitted financial capability information. The City anticipates submitting feasibility study materials by June 2010. The City continues to work on a NEPA compliance document.
The Ironhouse Sanitary District has not submitted a feasibility report, financial capability information, or a NEPA compliance document for Reclamation's review and determination for the Antioch Recycled Water Project. The District anticipates their recycled water master plan will be completed by the end of summer 2010. This plan will be the basis of the feasibility report that will be submitted in 2011. NEPA related work is also anticipated for 2011.
Previously Authorized Projects – Increased Cost Share
Delta Diablo Sanitation District's Antioch Recycled Water Project is authorized for construction, has been determined to have completed the necessary feasibility studies; it is financially capable under the Title XVI program, and is NEPA compliant.
Santa Clara Valley Water District's South Bay Advanced Recycled Water Treatment Facility is authorized for construction, has been determined to have completed the necessary feasibility studies; it is financially capable under the Title XVI program, and is NEPA compliant.
S. 1138 would authorize these projects under Title XVI for Federal funding with project-specific maximum Federal cost shares that do not to exceed 25 percent of the estimated total project cost.
While the Department supports efforts to increase local water supplies and increase recycled water use, these projects would compete for funds with other needs within the Reclamation program, including other Title XVI projects currently under construction. In general, the Department supports the Title XVI Reclamation and Reuse program. The 2011 budget proposal includes funding for the Department's WaterSMART Program, and Title XVI is an important element of that program. Specifically, the 2011 budget proposal includes $29 million for the Title XVI program, a 113% increase over the 2010 enacted level.
As part of this total, the Department is requesting $20 million for Title XVI projects to be selected using criteria to identify activities most closely aligned with Title XVI statutory and program goals. On March 15, 2010, Reclamation posted an announcement inviting comment on draft funding criteria for Title XVI projects. After these criteria are finalized with comments received up through April 16, Reclamation will review and rank Title XVI project proposals received based on those criteria subject to appropriations in fiscal year 2011.
Separately, in July of 2009, the Department announced the allocation of approximately $135 5 million in grants for specific authorized Title XVI projects using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, or ARRA. We recognize that water reuse is an essential tool in stretching the limited water supplies in the West, and I believe the FY 2011 Budget request on top of the ARRA funding has demonstrated the emphasis placed by this Administration on this Program. However, given that there are 53 already authorized Title XVI projects and numerous competing mission priorities and demands on Reclamation's budget, the Department cannot support the authorization of new Title XVI projects or extensions of existing authorized cost ceilings at this time.
Reclamation will, however, continue to work with project proponents to evaluate the feasibility of their projects.
Madam Chairwoman, this concludes my testimony. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on S. 1138. I would be pleased to answer any questions at this time.