Statement of Kira L Finkler, Deputy Commissioner for External and Intergovernmental Affairs
U.S. Department of the Interior
Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Subcommittee on Water and Power
Magna Water District Water Reuse and Groundwater Recharge Project
April 27, 2010
Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Kira Finkler, Deputy Commissioner for External and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). I am pleased to provide the views of the Department of the Interior (Department) on S. 745, the Magna Water District Water Reuse and Groundwater Recharge Project. For reasons I will discuss below, the Administration cannot support the bill.
S. 745 would amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act (Public Law 102-575, 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.
S. 745 authorizes a $12 million (25 percent) Federal cost share for the project. The proposed project has an estimated total project cost of $51 million and would reduce the District's reliance on high quality potable water by 580 million gallons (1,780 acre-feet) per year, currently used for non-potable water supply. Reclamation completed a review of the Magna Water District's Feasibility Study in July 2009, and made a finding that the District's report met the requirements of a feasibility study as defined under Section 1604 of Title XVI.
S. 745 would authorize the project under Title XVI for Federal funding not to exceed 25 percent or $20 million, whichever is less.
While the Department supports efforts to increase local water supplies and increase recycled water use, this project would compete for funds with other needs within the Reclamation program, including other Title XVI projects currently under construction. In general, the Department supports the Title XVI Reclamation and Reuse program. The 2011 budget proposal includes funding for the Department's WaterSMART Program, and Title XVI is an important element of that program. Specifically, the 2011 budget proposal includes $29 million for the Title XVI program, a 113% increase over the 2010 enacted level.
As part of this total, the Department is requesting $20 million for Title XVI projects to be selected using criteria to identify activities most closely aligned with Title XVI statutory and program goals. On March 15, 2010, Reclamation posted an announcement inviting comment on draft funding criteria for Title XVI projects. After these criteria are finalized with comments received up through April 16, Reclamation will review and rank Title XVI project proposals received based on those criteria subject to appropriations in fiscal year 2011.
Separately, in July of 2009, the Department announced the allocation of approximately $135 million in grants for specific authorized Title XVI projects using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA. We recognize that water reuse is an essential tool in stretching the limited water supplies in the West, and I believe the FY 2011 Budget request on top of the ARRA funding has demonstrated the emphasis placed by this Administration on this Program. 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 or extensions of existing authorized cost ceilings at this time.
Reclamation will, however, continue to work with project proponents to evaluate the completeness of feasibility studies of their projects.
Madam Chairwoman, this concludes my testimony. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on S. 745. I would be pleased to answer any questions at this time.