Statement of William Rinne, Acting Commissioner
U.S. Department of the Interior
Before the
Resources Committee
Subcommittee on Water and Power
U.S. House of Representatives
HR 5987
To provide for a feasibility study of alternatives to augment the water supplies of the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District and cities served by the District

September 26, 2006

Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I am William Rinne, Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. I am pleased to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 5987 concerning the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District (District) Feasibility Study. H.R. 5987 would authorize Reclamation to conduct a Feasibility Study of alternatives to augment the water supplies of the District and cities served by the District, require that study to be conducted within one year of the date of enactment, and authorize $300,000 to be spent in conducting the study. The Department does not support HR 5987 as presently drafted.

The authorized timeframe of one year for the study described in HR 5987 would exclude the evaluation of alternatives to meet future water needs of surrounding communities not presently served by the District and would be a very aggressive schedule. This timeframe would make the completion of the feasibility study, including the preparation of the appropriate NEPA compliance document, extremely problematic and may prove difficult to achieve with any degree of accuracy.

The Department recognizes that a water need exists for the District, and that there is a Federal interest in evaluating alternatives to meet that need. Reclamation is currently preparing a plan that would outline the scope of work of such a study and estimate the associated costs. However, the Department does not support authorization of this Feasibility Study at this time if the addition of funds for the study would result in the reduction of funding for other programs or projects in the President's budget.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on H.R. 5987. This concludes my statement and I would be happy to answer any questions.