Statement of Robert W Johnson, Commissioner
U.S. Department of the Interior
Natural Resources Committee
Subcommittee on Water and Power
U.S. House of Representatives
Goleta Water Distribution System Conveyance Act of 2007
October 24, 2007
Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Robert Johnson, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. I am pleased to be here today to provide the Administration's views on H.R. 3323, the Goleta Distribution System Conveyance Act of 2007, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to convey a certain federally-owned water distribution system of the Cachuma Project in California to the Goleta Water District. The Administration supports H.R. 3323.
H.R. 3323 would transfer title of the federally owned distribution system associated with the Cachuma project that is within the boundaries of the Goleta Water District, Goleta, California. The features that would be transferred to the Goleta Water District include 59 miles of pipelines and laterals, two pump stations and regulating features, associated structures, and lands and rights of way. The proposed transfer would apply only to land and facilities and would not affect the District's existing water service contract with Santa Barbara County Water Agency or the Federal Government receipts from water deliveries under that contract.
The Goleta Water District has operated and maintained this distribution system since 1952 and fully met its repayment obligation in 2002. This title transfer will enable the district to gain greater local control of the distribution facilities that were constructed for their use. It will also eliminate the need for some administrative obligations that exist for the District. For example, once title is transferred, the district will no longer be required to seek approval from Reclamation for easements, crossing permits, or work on the facilities.
In addition, this title transfer protects the financial interest of the United States. Transferring title to these facilities will reduce a number of administrative burdens on Reclamation including periodic facility reviews that are currently required because it is a Reclamation owned facility, and the processing of paperwork that currently consumes significant staff time. It will also ensure that long term responsibility for the operation, maintenance, management, and regulation, as well as liability, for the transferred lands and facilities will rest with the District.
The process and cooperative approach used to negotiate and develop this transfer should be a model for future title transfers throughout the West. Reclamation and the District have worked effectively and cooperatively throughout this process to address the elements required for title transfer. We thank the District and Representative Capps for their work on this transfer and look forward to continuing to work with them as the process draws to a close.
Madam Chairwoman, thank you for your consideration of this bill. That concludes my testimony and I would be pleased to answer any questions.