Statement of Michael L. Connor, Commissioner
U.S. Department of the Interior
Natural Resources Committee
Subcommittee on Water and Power
U.S. House of Representatives
Magna Water District Water Reuse and Groundwater Recharge Act of 2009
July 21, 2009
Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Michael L. Connor, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. I am pleased to provide the Department of the Interior's views on H.R. 2265, legislation to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the Magna Water District water reuse and groundwater recharge project. For reasons discussed below, the Department cannot support H.R. 2265.
H.R. 2265 would amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act (43 U.S.C. 390h et seq.), commonly called Title XVI, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the design, planning, and construction of permanent facilities needed to establish recycled water distribution and wastewater treatment and reclamation facilities in the Magna Water District in Salt Lake County, Utah.
H.R. 2265 authorizes a $12 million Federal cost share for the project. Reclamation's Regional and Program offices are reviewing the Magna Water District's draft Feasibility Report this month to determine its compliance with the requirements identified in the Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program Directives and Standards (D&S) and Section 1604 of Public Law 102-575, as amended. Reclamation anticipates making a final determination as to the project's feasibility in the next few months.
As a threshold matter, I'd like to express the Department's general support for the Title XVI Reclamation and Reuse program. The 2010 budget proposal includes funding for Secretary Salazar's Water Conservation Initiative and Title XVI is an important element of that program. Also, on July 1, the Department announced the award of approximately $135 million in grants for specific authorized Title XVI projects. We recognize that water reuse is an essential tool in stretching the limited water supplies in the West.
However, given that there are 53 already authorized Title XVI projects and numerous competing mission priorities and demands on Reclamation's budget, the Department cannot support the authorization of new Title XVI projects at this time. As a practical matter, Reclamation is concerned that a proliferation of authorized projects would be detrimental to effective overall program management because there would be a dilution of available funding and a diminished ability of the Bureau to carry out and complete individual projects.
Reclamation will, however, continue to work with project proponents to evaluate the feasibility of their projects. To that end, Reclamation recently revised and improved its directives and standards that govern the review of Title XVI projects. By doing so, we believe that Reclamation can play a constructive role with local sponsors, as well as Congress, in evaluating the merits of proposed water recycling projects. Information regarding a project's feasibility should be fundamental to Congress' evaluation of new authorizations.
Madam Chairwoman, this concludes my testimony. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on H.R. 2265. I would be happy to answer any questions at this time.