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Committee Passes Legislation to Facilitate New and Expanded Water Storage Projects; Help Ease Western Drought Effects
Three Bills Will Address Issues with Permitting, Studies and Repayments

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 18, 2014 - Today, the House Natural Resources Committee approved with bipartisan support three bills to address the nation’s critical need for new and expanded surface water storage projects.  H.R. 3980, the Water Supply Permit Coordinating Act, H.R. 3981, the Accelerated Revenue, Repayment, and Surface Water Storage Enhancement Act, and H.R. 5412, the Bureau of Reclamation Surface Water Storage Streamlining Act will update and improve the process for permitting and funding federal and non-federal surface water storage projects.

Multi-purpose dams and reservoirs generate affordable emission-free electricity; store water suppliers for farmers, ranchers and municipalities; tame ravaging floods; provide recreational opportunities; and provide year-round cold water flows for fisheries.  Specifically, these bills would facilitate more water storage projects; streamline the environmental planning, study, and permitting process for these projects; create a one-stop-shop for permits to expand non-federal water storage; and allow for expedited payment for water projects. The Family Farm Alliance, the National Water Resources Association and the Association of California Water Agencies support these initiatives.

Water storage has been the key to economic prosperity and a way of life in my Central Washington district, which is home to two large federal water projects,” said Chairman Doc Hastings. “Together, these water storage projects irrigate more than a million acres of farmland, make possible a vital navigation link for millions of tons of grain and commodities annually, provide numerous recreation and flood control benefits, and provide over 21 billion kilowatt hours of carbon-free, renewable hydroelectric power to customers in the Pacific Northwest. For us to have another water supply renaissance, we must embrace new or expanded storage so that we can truly have prosperous water supply strategy well into the future. We have the power to make that happen and this legislation is key to our success.”

“Under current law, districts must navigate a convoluted permitting process for the construction of new water storage in which a host of federal agencies require a dizzying array of permits, decisions, and approvals -- each disjointed from the other -- despite the fact that they are studying the same project, in the same location, and trying to evaluate the same data. To address this bureaucracy, HR 3980 would put in place a framework in which federal agencies with permitting responsibilities for the construction of new surface water storage projects must work together, coordinate their schedules, share data and technical materials, and make their findings publicly available. The end result would be fewer delays, more efficient use of taxpayer dollars, and ultimately, more abundant water supplies,” said Subcommittee on Water and Power Chairman Tom McClintock (CA-04).

Specifically:

  • H.R. 5412, the Bureau of Reclamation Surface Water Storage Streamlining Act, sponsored by Chairman Doc Hastings, will provide more accountability and accelerate studies to promote new and or expanded surface water storage projects. (Approved 23-16)
  • H.R. 3981, the Accelerated Revenue, Repayment, and Surface Water Storage Enhancement Act, sponsored by Chairman Doc Hastings, will eliminate the existing piecemeal legislative approach towards allowing water districts to prepay what they owe to the federal government.  Some of the prepayments under the bill would be dedicated to building new surface water storage. (Approved 25-16)
  • H.R. 3980, the Water Supply Permit Coordinating Act, sponsored by Water and Power Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock and Representative Cynthia Lummis (WY-At Large), will streamline the current multi-agency permitting process that delays the construction of new or expanded surface water storage by creating a one-stop-shop permitting process through the Bureau of Reclamation. (Approved 22-16)

 

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Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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