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Statement of Kris Polly, Deputy Commissioner
Bureau of Reclamation
U.S. Department of the Interior
Before the
Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Subcommittee on Water and Power
U.S. Senate
on
H.R. 2614
water supply, reclamation reuse and recycling, and desalination projects in Southern California

April 08, 2008

Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I am Kris Polly, Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. I am here today to present the views of the Department of the Interior on HR 2614, a bill to authorize water supply, reclamation reuse and recycling, and desalination projects in Southern California. HR 2614 would amend Title XVI, the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act (P.L. 102-575) to include design, planning, and construction authority for two specific projects. For reasons described below, the Department does not support HR 2614.

HR 2614, as written, would authorize the design, planning, and construction of projects to treat impaired surface water, reclaim and reuse impaired groundwater and wastewater, and provide brine disposal in the State of California.

Specifically, this bill would authorize the Yucaipa Valley Regional Water Supply Renewal Project. Reclamation has reviewed the feasibility study submitted by the Yucaipa Valley Water District. Based on the technical information provided, Reclamation could not determine the feasibility of the project, and additional information was requested. The District recently submitted the additional information, and Reclamation's final analysis of the project's feasibility is expected soon.

HR 2614 would also authorize the City of Corona Water Utility, California Water Recycling and Reuse Project. Reclamation has reviewed the feasibility study submitted by the City of Corona. Based on the technical information provided, Reclamation could not determine the feasibility of the project, and additional information has been requested from the City. This does not mean the project is not feasible, but rather that until the remaining information is reviewed, Reclamation cannot provide a feasibility determination.

Mr. Chairman, the Department supports efforts to increase local water supplies and increase recycled water use in southern California. However, HR 2614 would authorize the design and construction of these projects before the feasibility study is completed. Reclamation prefers that feasibility studies be completed first to determine whether these particular projects warrant Federal construction authorization. The Department believes this legislation is premature and does not support HR 2614.

In addition, H.R. 2614 authorizes the appropriation of up to $20 million or a maximum of 25 percent of total project costs, whichever is less, for each of these two projects. These projects would have to compete with other needs within the Reclamation program for funding priority in the President's Budget.

Moreover, the Department continues to believe it is not prudent to authorize new Title XVI projects in light of the Federal cost share already authorized for Title XVI projects now being actively pursued.

Of the 35 Title XVI projects specifically authorized and 2 demonstration projects undertaken through the general authority, 21 projects are actively being pursued and 4 are complete. The Federal cost share for the active projects, after FY 2008, is nearly $400 million. The Federal cost share for the 12 projects currently not being pursued is estimated at $220 million.

While Reclamation is not supporting new project authorizations at this time, we understand that the projects established by Title XVI are important to many water users in the West. To that end, Reclamation has revised and improved its Directives and Standards that govern reviews of Title XVI projects. By doing so, we believe that Reclamation can play a more constructive role with local sponsors in weighing the merits and ultimate feasibility of proposed water recycling projects.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HR 2614. I would be happy to answer any questions at this time.