Statement of William E. Rinne, Deputy Commissioner
U.S. Department of the Interior
Before the
Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Subcommittee on Water and Power
U.S. Senate
S. 1498
To Convey Certain Water Distribution Facilities to
The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District

October 06, 2005

Good morning, I am William E. Rinne, Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. I am pleased to appear before this Subcommittee to provide Reclamation's views on S. 1498, legislation to transfer title to certain water distribution facilities of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project (C-BT) located in Colorado, to the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. Mr. Chairman, we are working diligently with the District to accomplish this title transfer because we are convinced it has the potential to provide operations efficiencies and other benefits. However, we are concerned that the legislation may be premature because we have not yet worked out the details of the title transfer with the District.

To date, our most successful transfers have relied on a simple plan -- identify issues and obstacles at the local level and address them prior to the introduction of legislation authorizing the title transfer. Toward this end, Reclamation has a clear and collaborative process for title transfers. Not only has the preferred approach helped entities identify and address concerns of other interested parties early on in the process, but it has also enabled Reclamation and the districts to accurately predict and assign costs, and resolve other issues during the more flexible period preceding legislation. This process has been quite successful and we strongly encourage the District to continue to work through it with us before legislation advances.

The transfer contemplated by S. 1498 has only just begun. On January 24 of this year, Reclamation wrote to the District, acknowledging its interest in title transfer and urging it to follow the title transfer process described above. On July 26, 2005, H.R. 3443 was introduced in the House. On September 7, 2005, the District wrote Reclamation requesting that an MOU be entered into by October 7, 2005. We have begun working with the District on that MOU, and if no unexpected issues arise, we anticipate executing the MOU by October 7. Subsequent to the completion of that MOU, Reclamation and the District need to thoroughly discuss the remaining issues associated with the transfer of these facilities.

Mr. Chairman, we look forward to working with you and the District to complete this title transfer is the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.

That concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions.