H.R. 3812

To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to prepare a feasibility study with respect to the Mokelumne River  

Statement of Commissioner John Keys

Bureau of Reclamation

U.S. Department of the Interior

Before the

Subcommittee on Water and Power

Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

U.S. Senate

March 30, 2006


My name is John Keys, and I am Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.  I am pleased to provide the Administration’s views on H.R. 3812, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to prepare a feasibility study for the Mokelumne River Regional Water Storage and Conjunctive Use Project (known as the MORE Water Project), San Joaquin County, California. The Administration cannot support this bill because it is premature, and given scarce Federal budgetary resources, an expansion of the Federal role in the Mokelumne River cannot be justified.            

Specifically, this bill would authorize the Secretary to study the feasibility of constructing a project to provide additional water supply and improve water management reliability through the development of new water storage and conjunctive use programs.  The bill would authorize an appropriation of $3,300,000 for the Federal cost share of the study, with the proviso that the Federal share shall not exceed 50 percent of the total cost of the study.  Clearly there are many water supply issues in the San JoaquinValley and in San Joaquin County in particular.  I am proud of the work our people in the Mid-Pacific Region have done to understand the issues, the local interests and the role Reclamation might play in solving problems.

I would like to provide some background relative to current investigations of Mokelumne River water supplies and planning investigation costs.  In Fiscal Year 2005, Congress appropriated $300,000 for the initiation of an appraisal investigation of the Mokelumne River Regional Water Storage and Conjunctive Use Project.  The Appraisal Report is in draft form at this time.  It is our hope to have it completed soon.

HR 3812 directs the Secretary, not later than 2 years from date of enactment, to complete a feasibility study and provide copies to the Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives and to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate.  Feasibility studies, which integrate National Environmental Policy Act compliance documentation, and are completed in conformance with the Principles and Guidelines for such studies, require a minimum of 3 years to complete.  The Administration recommends the bill be amended to extend the study period to a minimum of 3 years for completing the feasibility study and to providing the copies to the appropriate Congressional committees. 

The Mokelumne River is tributary to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  There is no clear justification for expanding federal involvement into the Mokelumne River.  .  Although this broad area is impacted by the Central Valley Project  and CALFED, theMokelumne River does not have a  Bureau of Reclamation water project. 

It is premature to authorize a feasibility study before the appraisal study has been completed and reviewed.  Moreover, this study would compete for funding with other currently authorized projects, including several authorized storage feasibility studies authorized under CALFED.  I should also note that Reclamation did not seek funding for this project in the President’s Fiscal Year 2006 or 2007 budgets. 

The Administration appreciates local efforts to address future water issues.  However, in light of the concerns expressed above, we cannot support this bill authorizing Reclamation participation in a feasibility study.  That concludes my prepared remarks.  I would be pleased to answer any questions.

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