Statement of Larry Todd, Deputy Commissioner
U.S. Department of the Interior
Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Subcommittee on Water and Power
Lower Republican River Basin Study Act
July 26, 2007
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, my name is Larry Todd, and I am Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. I am pleased to provide the Administration's views on H.R. 1025, legislation authorizing a feasibility study to improve water management in the Republican River Basin between Harlan County Lake in Nebraska, and Milford Lake in Kansas.
Reclamation was included in the early stages of the project planning process that resulted in completion of the Lower Republican River Basin Appraisal Report in January 2005. We support the goal of the States, as project sponsors, to develop a locally-supported solution that is economical, affordable and environmentally sensible. However, funds have not been allocated to carry out the provisions of H.R. 1025 in the Administration's budgets for fiscal years 2007 and 2008. Given Reclamation's need to focus its limited resources on maintaining its existing infrastructure and completing on-going construction projects, the Administration cannot support this bill.
Reclamation has been working with the States on Republican River Compact water supply issues for many years. There is some important background information that I would like to share with you today to provide context for consideration of this legislation.
In 1998, Kansas filed a U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit against Nebraska and Colorado because of their belief that Nebraska was using more than its allocation of water under the Republican River Compact. The three States negotiated a settlement that was approved by the United States Supreme Court in May 2003.
In accordance with the Final Settlement Stipulations, the States agreed to pursue in good faith, and in collaboration with the United States, system improvements in the basin, including measures to improve the ability to utilize the water supply below Hardy, Nebraska, on the Republican River's mainstem. Reclamation's appraisal study analyzed a number of alternatives recommended by the Compact Commissioners. The results from the study indicate that the water supply in the basin is not being fully utilized. With improvements in the existing systems and possibly with additional storage capability, the systems could be managed to alleviate some of the water shortage problems that exist in the lower reaches of the basin. The Settlement provided for Compact accounting which is indicating overuse of the allocations by Colorado and Nebraska. Reclamation has been working with the States in an effort to achieve and sustain Compact compliance. These efforts have included the release of 2007 storage water at Bonny Reservoir in Colorado in response to a "call" placed by the State Engineer; and approval of temporary sales of project water in 2006 and 2007 to reduce consumptive use in Nebraska and provide additional water supply to project lands in Kansas. Reclamation has worked closely with project beneficiaries and the States to find more effective and efficient ways to deliver water, and will continue to do so in the future.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my testimony, I would be pleased to answer any questions.