(Washington, D.C.) – The House Natural Resources Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing yesterday to review the Bureau of Reclamation’s infrastructure funding, including review of current balances in the Reclamation Fund at Treasury. The Reclamation Fund was established to help pay for construction and maintenance of those water projects in the West, but receipts to the fund have exceeded its annual appropriations, leading to a surplus balance of almost $17 billion. Witnesses for the hearing including Federico Barajas (G.M. of Alliance member San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, CALIFORNIA), Paul Arrington (Idaho Water Users Association and National Water Resources Association), Tony Willardson (Western States Water Council) and Deputy Commissioner Grayford Payne (Bureau of Reclamation). Mr. Arrington also serves on the Advisory Committee of the Family Farm Alliance. The Alliance assisted in developing Mr. Barajas’ written testimony, emphasizing the challenges of addressing aging water infrastructure through Reclamation’s West-wide service area.
Click here for the written testimony of Federico Barajas
Click here for the written testimony of Paul Arrington
Click here for the written testimony of Jason Phillips, CEO of Friant Water Authority (CALIFORNIA), who serves on the Family Farm Alliance Advisory Committee.
Click here for an article from today’s E&E about yesterday’s hearing.
Earlier this year, the Alliance supported legislation that would extend the Reclamation Water Settlement Fund, which allows for direct access to the Reclamation Fund. The Alliance supported this legislation, since tribal water rights settlements will continue to move forward, with or without the Fund. Future settlements that are authorized by Congress will hit Reclamation’s budget even harder. However, that support was conditioned with a request that Congress apply a similar approach in addressing and modernizing aging water structures utilizing existing balances in the Reclamation Fund.
“We were pleased to see the subcommittee seriously address this concern with a hearing,” said Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen.