S.1224 - Water and Power Bills

Statement of Grayford F. Payne, Deputy Commissioner for Policy,
Administration and Budget
Bureau of Reclamation
U.S. Department of the Interior
Before the Subcommittee on Water and Power
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
S. 1224 - Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Improvement Act

June 23, 2011

Madam Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I am Grayford Payne, Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Administration and Budget at the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). I am here today to provide the views of the Department of the Interior (Department) on S. 1224: the "Bureau of Reclamation Fish Recovery Programs Reauthorization Act of 2011." The Department strongly supports the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program and San Juan River Recovery Implementation Program and twice testified before the 111th Congress in support of legislation related to S.1224. However, the Department does not support the language of S. 1224 as introduced. We would like to work with the Congress to find a mutually acceptable funding mechanism for this program.

The Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program and San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program (Programs) share the dual goals of recovering populations of endangered fish while water development continues to meet current and future human needs. Program actions provide Endangered Species Act compliance for more than 2,100 federal, tribal, and non-federal water projects depleting more than 3.7 million acre-feet of water per year in the Colorado and San Juan rivers and their tributaries. The Programs, authorized by Public Law 106-392, as amended, were established under cooperative agreements in 1988 (Upper Colorado) and 1992 (San Juan). Program partners include the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming; the Bureau of Reclamation, Western Area Power Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs; Native American tribes; environmental organizations; water users; and power customers.

Public Law 106-392 expressly authorized and capped the use of $6 million per year (indexed for inflation) of Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP) hydropower revenues from Glen Canyon Dam and other CRSP facilities to support the base funding needs of the Programs through 2011. Base funding is used for program management, scientific research, fish population monitoring, fish stocking, control of non-native fish, and operation and maintenance of capital projects. The bill, as introduced, could be interpreted to place the burden of providing annual base funding for anything other than operation and maintenance of capital projects and monitoring on annual appropriations requested by Reclamation. Given Reclamation's extensive water supply, conservation, and mitigation activities, this program would have to compete with other Reclamation priorities for funding.

These Programs have been nationally recognized for their cooperative approach to recovering aquatic native fish species, avoiding litigation, and providing Endangered Species Act compliance to federal and non-federal water users. Should the annual appropriations not materialize, Endangered Species Act compliance for 2,100 water projects and more than 3 million acre-feet of depletions will be in jeopardy.

That concludes my written statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions.

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