Statement of Senator Harry Reid Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Hearing on Water Resources Development Act 1998, S. 2131

I want to first express my appreciation to the Assistant Secretary of the Army Joseph Westphal, Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Davis and General Russell Fuhrman for their testimony today, as well as the second panel of many fine representatives of cities and counties. Their contribution of experience, expertise and judgement is vital to the business of this subcommittee.

The work of the Army Corps of Engineers is of vital interest to sound development of the Nation's water resources, flood damage reduction and the regulation of wetlands. Those of us from western states understand that water management is essential for sustainable growth and development. Proactive monitoring and control of water resources is crucial to flood hazards mitigation which provides security and peace of mind for residents throughout the state. In Nevada, we currently have projects in work to provide for flood control in Las Vegas, water quality improvement at Lake Tahoe, restoration of the Truckee River and flood warning enhancement at Reno, among others. I have no doubt that if we can maintain the Corps' program, we will succeed in providing for the water demands of an increasing population, while balancing the social needs with our stewardship obligation to the environment.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with a total Fiscal Year 1999 level of $3.394 billion budget, has served the nation well in the development of water projects in flood control, water quality, environmental restoration and other public infrastructure. The approach the Administration took with the Corps' Fiscal Year 1999 budget is deeply troubling. Almost $1.5 billion was cut from the water projects from around the nation. If the future of the Corps' programs are to be determined by the Office of Management and Budget without regard for the Corps' projects, much less Congressional direction, then the many needed projects throughout our states, basins, and communities will be irreparably undermined. I hope that we can work with the Corps to get this biennial Water Resources Development Act passed and that future budget proposals from the Administration will be supportive of the legislation that is produced.