Statement of Grayford F. Payne, Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Administration and Budget
U.S. Department of the Interior
Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Subcommittee on Water and Power
City of Hermiston, Oregon, Water Recycling and Reuse Project
June 23, 2011
Madam Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Grayford Payne, Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Administration and Budget at the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). I am pleased to provide the views of the Department of the Interior (Department) on S. 1033, the City of Hermiston, Oregon, Water Recycling and Reuse Project. For reasons I will discuss below, the Department cannot support the bill.
S. 1033 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 reclaim and reuse water in the City of Hermiston, Oregon. The project is being implemented by the City of Hermiston.
The City of Hermiston (City), located in north central Oregon, is one of the largest communities within Reclamation's Umatilla Project area. The project proposed by the City includes upgrades and construction at their existing wastewater treatment facility and construction of a delivery system that would deliver recycled water to the West Extension Irrigation District. This recycled water would be used by the District to irrigate agricultural lands. By 2031, it is estimated that this proposed project would provide the District with an approximate 2,034 acre-feet of drought resistant water supply during the irrigation season. The current total estimated cost for this project is approximately $25.8 million.
In January 2010, the City of Hermiston submitted their feasibility report to Reclamation for review under the Title XVI program. In April 2010, Reclamation's review team completed the review and made the certification that the proposed project "Meets Requirements" as defined under section 1604 of Public Law 102-575, as amended.
The City and Reclamation's Pacific Northwest Region are continuing to coordinate on actions that are necessary to be complete prior to implementation of the proposed project. This includes activities such as finalization of the determination of the project sponsor's financial capability, entering into a land use agreement since the delivery pipe is to cross Reclamation land, and entering into a permit to accept the delivery of this water into the canal.
S. 1033 would authorize the City of Hermiston's project under Title XVI for Federal funding not to exceed 25 percent of the total cost of the project.
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 2012 budget request includes funding for the Department's WaterSMART Program, of which Title XVI is an important element. Specifically, the 2012 budget request includes $29 million for the Title XVI program. This represents a significant increase over funding levels for the program in recent years.
As part of this total, the Department is requesting $23.4 million to fund Title XVI projects selected through a competitive funding opportunity process which uses criteria finalized in 2010 to identify activities most closely aligned with Title XVI statutory and program goals. Reclamation plans to invite sponsors of Congressionally authorized Title XVI projects to submit applications for funding under the program and will review and rank proposals against those criteria to identify projects for funding, subject to appropriations in fiscal year 2012. A similar procedure was used this year to identify projects for 2011 funding, which were announced last month. The remaining $5.6 million of the Title XVI request is to continue funding projects currently underway and for program administration.
We recognize that water reuse is an essential tool in stretching the limited water supplies in the West, and I believe the FY 2012 budget request on top of $140 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for Title XVI 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. Reclamation will, however, continue to work with project proponents to evaluate the completeness of feasibility studies of their projects.
Madam Chairman, this concludes my written statement. I am pleased to answer any questions.