Testimony of John W. Keys
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Oversight Hearing on
Water Supply and Water Resources
Committee on Environment and Public Works
United States Senate
November 14, 2001
My name is John Keys. I am Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to discuss Reclamation=s role and challenges in ensuring the adequacy of water supplies in the areas we serve.
Before I discuss these issues, I would like to give the Committee some background on the Bureau of Reclamation B a water resources management agency within the Department of the Interior whose mission is to provide water and power in the 17 western states. I would also like to include a short overview of the facilities which Reclamation has developed and the benefits which they yield.
On June 17, 1902 B almost one hundred years ago B President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Reclamation Act to develop and construct irrigation water delivery projects in the Western United States. The President=s objective, and that of the Congress, in supporting this legislation was to stimulate agricultural development through irrigated agriculture in order to create economic opportunities in the arid lands in the West and thereby facilitate the settlement of the Western United States.
Partially because of the success of this program, the 1930s saw an exponential growth in population in the west which meant that electricity and other types of water supply, in addition to irrigation development, were needed to meet increased demands. In response, Congress authorized numerous multi-purpose projects B thereby expanding Reclamation=s focus from the construction of single purpose irrigation projects to the construction of facilities to provide hydroelectric power, municipal and industrial water supply, recreation, flood control and other benefits.
Bureau of Reclamation=s Role in Meeting the West=s Water Supply Needs
As a result of its activities to meet the contemporary B and changing B water needs of the 17 western states, Reclamation has become the largest water resources management agency in the west. Three of Reclamation=s projects B Grand Coulee, Hoover and Shasta dams B are listed on the National Critical Infrastructure list. Reclamation administers or operates 348 reservoirs with a total storage capacity of 245 million acre-feet, 58 hydroelectric powerplants with an installed capacity of 14,744 megawatts, and more than 300 recreation sites in the 17 western states. These facilities enable Reclamation to meet important needs and provide numerous benefits:
T We provide one out of five western farmers with irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland that produce 60 percent of the nation=s vegetables and 25 percent of its fruit and nuts.
T We deliver water to more than 31 million people in the west, the most rapidly urbanizing region of the country.
T Our powerplants generate an average of more than 42 billion kilowatt hours of energy each year, making Reclamation the nation=s second largest producer of hydroelectric power and the 11th largest generating utility in the United States. Reclamation produces enough electricity to serve 14 million people. Reclamation=s Central Valley Project in California generated more than 6.5 billion kilowatt hours of energy in 1999 and serves approximately 2 million Californians. Because of the flexibility of Reclamation=s hydropower system which can provide power at the peak times of day, its value to the West is significantly greater than the mere kilowatts generated. That value was clearly demonstrated last summer during California=s electricity crisis. On numerous occasions, it was Reclamation=s power that kept the lights on in California. And it was Reclamation=s hydropower system that ensured the integrity and stability of the western power grid - when it was overloaded and on the verge of failing.
T Our projects support habitat with water for wildlife refuges, migratory waterfowl, anadromous and resident fish, and endangered and threatened species.
T Our reservoirs accommodate 90 million visits a year at more than 300 recreation sites.
T Reclamation=s Indian and other rural water projects including the Mni Wiconi, Mid Dakota, Garrison, and Fort Peck projects, when completed, will provide water to thousands of rural communities who currently do not have access to potable water supplies.
Additionally, Reclamation is helping to meet future water supply demand through broad programs promoting more efficient water use.
Water Conservation. Through our Water Conservation Field Services Program, we provide water districts with technical and financial assistance to develop effective water conservation plans. While Reclamation has a role to play in water conservation, there also are opportunities for state and local entities to offer incentives through rate restructuring, low interest loans for farmers to install more efficient irrigation facilities, and rebates for installation of efficient appliances, landscaping retrofits, and toilets.
Water Reuse. Recycled water is used for a variety of purposes, including agricultural and landscape irrigation, ground water recharge, and industrial cooling. Reclamation=s water reuse program assists western cites in enhancing their water supplies by providing funds for the 25 projects authorized under Title XVI of Public Law 102-575, as amended. Since 1992, the Congress has authorized water reuse projects in the states of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and Oregon. Nonfederal cost sharing partners pay at least 50 percent of the feasibility study costs and 75 percent of the construction costs. Total Federal costs for the 25 authorized projects is estimated at $600 million. To date, approximately $205 million has been made available in Federal assistance.
These projects are in various stages of planning, design and construction but all are estimated to be completed by 2012. Upon completion, they are expected to yield an additional 494,000 acre feet water for beneficial use.
Facilitating Voluntary Water Transfers: Approximately 85 to 90 percent of the water consumed in the West is devoted to irrigated agriculture. In the face of rapid urbanization, the changing economics of farming, and the need to strike a balance with the appropriate protection of environmental values, voluntary transfers of water from willing agricultural sellers to willing buyers is one means by which the future water needs of the West will be addressed.
In many regions of the western United States, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, the 2001 water year was very dry. This severe drought meant that there was below normal water inflow to some Reclamation facilities which required unprecedented steps to balance water deliveries, power production and environmental requirements to satisfy, to the greatest extent possible, multiple project purposes. While it is difficult to predict with precision future water availability, in many of the basins that were severely affected by drought this past year, like the Klamath Basin in Oregon and California, as well as other areas that were not impacted, Reclamation is working closely with the states, local governments, watershed councils and other interested stakeholders to identify alternative sources of water and to improve drought contingency planning.
Meeting Future Needs
Over the past 25 years, the population of the 17 Western states served by Reclamation has increased by 32 percent compared to a growth rate of only 19 percent for the rest of the United States B making the West the fastest growing area in the nation. Nearly every major river system in the West B the Colorado, Columbia, Rio Grande and Missouri B is heavily developed and over appropriated. That trend is projected to continue. This create significant challenges to both Reclamation and other Federal, state and local water agencies.
In addressing these challenges, it is important to emphasize the primary responsibility of local water users in developing and financing water projects. Reclamation has an important role to play, both in maintaining its significant investment in water infrastructure, and in using its expertise to help local communities meet their water needs. Also, as water demands intensify, it will become increasingly important to encourage efficient water management practices.
New Facilities to Meet Agriculture to M&I Conversion: As one of the fastest growing regions of the United States, water that was once used for irrigation will increasingly be converted to M&I usage. Because of the change in the location of usage, because of the changes in timing of when the water is needed, and because of the need for treatment of M&I water to make it potable, there is insufficient infrastructure to meet those needs.
New Projects to Meet Growth: In addition to converting the use of water from agricultural to M&I purposes, new water supply will be needed to meet the growth of certain regions of the Western United States.
Aging Infrastructure: Having dependable supplies of water and power also requires that the infrastructure which Reclamation has developed over the past century be properly maintained and upgraded where needed. Many facilities built by the Bureau of Reclamation B both for irrigation and municipal and industrial (M&I) water delivery - were built prior to the development of current engineering standards. Approximately 50 percent of Reclamation=s dams were built prior to 1950. An appropriate level of annual maintenance of existing facilities is needed for beneficiaries to continue to deliver and receive the project water supplies they need in order to meet rising demands in the future, and to ensure that the benefits of Reclamation=s projects can continue to be realized.
As with our dams and water delivery systems, Reclamation must also maintain its powerplants. Sustained maintenance, replacement and modernization of equipment and machinery over time, are critical to the reliability of our hydro power system.
Security: Given the importance of Reclamation=s facilities for providing water and power and for protecting the public safety of downstream communities across the west, we have always placed a high priority on maintaining the safety and security of our facilities. However, in light of the tragic events that began on September 11th , Reclamation has placed its facilities at a heightened state of security. While we are working closely with state and local law enforcement officials to supplement and complement our coverage, these agencies are facing constraints with their budgets and manpower capabilities.
We appreciate the recent enactment of H.R. 2925 by Congress which authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to assign law enforcement personnel from Interior, and other Federal, state, local and Tribal agencies to enforce Federal law at Reclamation sites and on Reclamation-administered lands.
As you can see, Mr. Chairman, the Bureau of Reclamation has a diverse and important mission in working to help the arid west to meet its water and power supply needs - especially as this region continues to be the fastest growing in the nation.
We look forward to working with the Subcommittee and with all water users and the interested public to develop ways to meet competing water needs and demands into our second hundred years of service to the west and to the United States. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in today=s hearing.
I would be pleased to answer any questions.
 This includes 17 states located west of the 100th meridian. These are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.