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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  June 9, 2015 1:00am-3:01am EDT

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coming up on c-span 3 a look at on going drought conditions in western states and experts explain the environmental protection agencies new rule to
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explain federal control of land and water resources. after that former secretary of state talks about her plan to use middle eastern public opinion to help shape u.s. foreign policy. later imf director christine legarde releases a new report on the state of the u.s. economy. now a hearing on drought conditions in the western united states. witnesses include interior department and water resources officials talking about actions they're taking and state federal partnerships. this is two hours.
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>> good morning. welcome to everyone this morning. we're meeting today to discuss drought conditions. i don't know about the rest of you but i was completely dumped on yesterday. i had never seen it rain so hard but i was thinking about drought as we were battling the wet here. but truly the drought conditions facing the western united states have garnered the attention of so many of us. much of the west has been in varying degrees of drought for the past 15 years now. according to a survey released last week 57% of the west is now experiencing moderate to
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exceptional drought. all or parts of nine states range from severe to exceptional drought and the impacts are significant. california nit of its fourth year of severe drought has for the first time imposed mandatory drought on water use and businesses. many continue to face unprecedented interruptions which are the primary sources of water. today in the absence of water their livelihoods are being dramatically impacted. drought is leaving behind hard decisions for these folks. they're saying, you know which fields do they lay fallow? do they change the certain crops they plant? do they plow under crops such as fruit trees. i was out in fresno several months ago and saw whole fields
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of beautiful citrus trees bulldozed over because there was no water. in certain cases the drought has lead farmers to go out of business entirely and of course the impacts are not just on our farmers. with some communities no longer having running water and individuals in foreign communities losing jobs. there's much discussion regarding what drives water release decisions in the state. during the course of the state's four year drought for example many have said that the large amounts of water have been released at various times and various forms had been done to ensure protection of fish at the expanse of cities towns and farmers. indeed we have heard repeatedly that farmers in the state use 80% of the state's water. so the question is is that accurate? my understanding is that the california department of water resources reported that statewide water use looks more like this. 10% urban use, 41% agriculture
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use and a majority of 49% use for environmental management. wetlands, delta outflow and in stream flow requirements. so one of the very real questions that we should discuss regarding california's circumstances and potentially elsewhere is to what extent is the very important balance between water or fish under state and federal law being given equal legal support for that of water delivery to meet the needs of people in cities, towns and farms. and if the balance is not heequal then why not? are there regulatory imbalances and can the federal government will helpful in addressing imbalances. in the west the situation while perhaps not quite as dire is trending that way. in washington state the governor declared a statewide drought emergency on may 15th. in oregon a state of drought emergency in 7 could you tells
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with another 8 requesting designation. across the colorado river basin where 40 million residents in 7 states rely on water for residential, industrial and agriculture needs the drought in varying degrees has been a fact of life for now some 15 years and the strains are starting to show. most notably at lake meade where they have fallen 130 feet. at the current rate in the next few years in arizona and elsewhere they could see reductions in their allocations under the colorado river compact. hydropower operations could also be curtailed. i mentioned in this committee and in others that potential hydropower impacts remind us of the strong nexus between energy and water and the strain that drought puts on that nexus is something that i'm watching and very concerned about.
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in the face of the challenges stemming from drought water users federal and state officials and others are working to ensure delivery of water where it's needed. these include state and federal officials working together to facilitate water transfers and farmers agreeing to delay the date of waters to benefit species and many farmers turned to water consumption to meet their needs. there's some hard questions i think that need to be asked here. are current actions sustainable in the face of multiyear droughts? are all affected parties giving sufficient attention to long-term planning and related actions? and what is the federal government's most appropriate role in addressing longer term solutions given tight budges and that much of what happens with water in the west is what's actually managed by the states. are there innovative efforts on the ground that should be replicated and what new ideas for water storage and conservation and use might we consider.
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we have an impressive panel of witnesses here today and particularly i look forward to hearing from those on the ground and how they're meeting the challenges. i look forward to everyone's thoughts on how we can be helpful here. i'll turn to my colleague, i will note to the committee that we have a vote scheduled at 10:30 so we will keep the committee going and just ask members to go out and vote and then come back but i'd like to turn to the senator. >> thank you. i'd like to thank her for scheduling this important hearing. as you mentioned in my state the governor has declared a drought emergency as has been done in 11 other states and i hope we can use this hearing to better understand the magnitude of tim pact of these droughts across our western states. i want to emphasize too that we hope to have a robust discussion today about solutions.
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things that we can do and things that we can plan for in the future. what is working. what is not working? what are the federal government actions that need to be addressed to face drought issues over the long-term and if drought conditions are likely to become the new normal what do we need to do to usher in a new era of solutions? this year many states are experiencing the warmest winter on record. in my state, snow impact at the mountain level which keeps our river flowing in the spring and summer are now at 9% of normal levels. 11 snow sites where snow free this year for the first time ever. for example, hurricane ridge which is one of the most visited parts of our state in olympic national park is normally covered in feet of snow this year and is completely snow free. it's actually a pretty startling
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sight to many. as a result of such low snowpack 78% of the streams are running below normal and it's projected to be the lowest it's been in 64 years. the governor declared a statewide drought emergency. it's working to mitigate the impact in rural community which is is hard hit. it's the state's most productive agriculture region. irrigation districts are rationing waters and farmers are facing cuts. they predict the crop loss could be as much as $1.2 billion this year. so i want to make sure that our federal agencies are working hand in hand with the states to provide relief and assistance and to try to address this issue moving forward. meanwhile our communities are bracing for a severe pyre season which also will provide many challenges. so it's very important to me that we look at responding to
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the long-term changes that are there and we think about the paradigm shift in front of us as we face these warmer seasons. we need to develop 21st century strategies for water management that not only respond to the drought conditions of today but prepare us for an uncertain future. this requires new ways of thinking and collaboration which means exploring all options. not just incremental change at this point in time. i think the project in my state is an example of long-term water basin planning which hasn't been done in the past in which interest groups from farmers to fishermen to tribes are working together to try to implemented the best plan over the long-term but there are four areas we should consider moving forward. one more collaborative water
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sharing agreements. them powers kmuncommunities to take action at a local level and be part of crafting solutions. second we need to be more flexible in operations. this includes how we build manage and finance and support those efforts at a local level. a lot of people don't want to talk about storage because they start talking about how long it takes to get it authorized. i think we have to think creatively about how we build storage now. we need to do -- even if that small scale storage is what is being done with the project. we need to do a better job of leveraging science and technology. i'm amazed at what israel has done as a country to have such low water resources and yet continue to be such an agriculture producer. we need to make sure that we're deploying new technologies that
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help improve efficientcies from our hydroelectric dams to homes and we need to do a better job of planning for the future than simply reacting. i hope we can get some of our climate scientists from oak ridge. senator alexander is a member of our committee who they have incredible science on what will be impacting us as a nation. i think we should look at what the new normal conditions could mean as a nation. we'll look at what the impact could be from an agriculture per perspective. we need to do all that we can now at the federal level to be flexible in our response to get the right kind of investments to help ensure that our states can deal with these and our communities will be better protected in the future. i thank you for your leadership in having this hearing.
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i look forward to hearing from the witnesses including tom who is in washington state and i lack forward to hearing from all the witnesses today on this important topic. >> thank you. with this we will begin hearing from our witnesses. very distinguished panel. thank you for being here. the lead will begin with michael kohn nor who is the deputy secretary for the department of interior. he will be followed by the director of the water planning division for the arizona department of water resources. thank you for coming from the west to be here. also from the west from washington, we have mr. tom loranger who is the water resources program manager for washington state department of ecology. he will be followed by mr. james
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o . giving us the view from the western states there. mr. cannon michael is on behalf of the family farm alliance. welcome to the committee and wrapping up the panel is betty cody who is a national resources policy specialist at crs. we welcome all of you. with that mr. connor we'll lead off with you and when the vote is called you will see various members of the committee leaving but i would ask that we just move through the testimony here this morning. i know you have a hard stop at noon so we want to try to accommodate that. 5 minutes testimony and your full written statement will be incorporated as part of the record. mr. connor welcome. >> thank you, chairman. members of the committee.
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for the record i am mike connor. deputy secretary of the department of the interior and i want to thank you for the tun to testify on the subject of drought and the action the department and it's bureaus are taking to address the serious water resource issues effecting much of the west. i will summarize my lengthy written testimony. the department is aware of the worries confronting families farmers tribes businesses cities and farmers throughout the west. we understand the implications for western kmuns and the need for continuous action to build long-term water supply reliability and resilientcy. we have no choice but to adjust and adapt. to that end the department is marshalling every resource. it has instituted a strategy
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that encompasses short, medium, and long-term dimensions. given the infrastructure an urgent response to drought required a focus on immediate day-to-day operations. it's taking in and all actions to more effectively manage water and maximize supplies for human use while maintaining environmental conditions to protect fish and wildlife as well as protect the interest of other water users. this year, the fourth year of a historic drought in california it's been minimal while federal agencies, state agencies, water users and non-governmental industries have worked together to share limited water supplies. the collaboration has been as historic as the drought itself. beyond addressing the current crisis we're also making strategic investments to stretch limited supplies and minimize conflicts over the next several years. as illustration two weeks ago the secretary travelled to los
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angeles and announced $49.5 million in grant assistance to co-fund a host of locally locally driven water conservation projects. they join hundreds of millions of dollars invested by this administration and supported by congress to help families across the west confronted by the historic drought. finally we continue to assess and plan for long-term actions required to improve our understanding of water resources as well as secure resources needed to invest unsustainable water uses that are the source of significant conflict today and likely to get worse in the future. the department views this as an all hands effort. the national parks service bureau of land management geological survey are all working aggressively with our partners. our work is dove tailing with that of other agencies like the department of agriculture as part of the national drought resistance partnership. federal drought policies across the government and help
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communities manage the impact of drought. these efforts rely on the cooperation of a broad array of stake holders. governors, tribal leaders state and local water authorities, conservationists, ranchers farmers and others. from grazing lands and timberlands to parklands and indian country collaboration is enabling flexibility to prevent water loss, preserve endangered species, protect recreational assets and provide irrigation to farm lands. to be suszccessful we must be dedicated and commit to the long-term. take the colorado river basin for example. that's been for the last 15 years. most recently the program developed in 2007 as well as agreements forged in 2010 and 2012 with the mexican government through those efforts 1 million acre feet of water has been conserved delaying the time
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we'll reach critical levels in lake meade. the drought continues out pace our efforts and shortages are possible in 2016 and 2017. underscoring the need for continued collaboration and extraordinary operational measures in the future. successfully confronting the challenge of drought will take considerable investment and on going commitment. the department and this administration will not lose focus on our community to help communities dealing with drought. neither the federal government or communities we serve can build, conserve, recycle, or regulate our way out of the challenges or rely on only one option to meet the challenges that we face. the understand the need to take a multifaceted long-term approach to diversifying our portfolio and working to achieve lasting results. thank you for the opportunity. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you deputy secretary. >> good morning, chairman.
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i'm the director of the arizona department of water resources. thank you for providing me the opportunity to present arizona's testimony regarding drought in the west, it's impact on my state, our formula for offsetting and mitigating drought impacts in the role of the united states. the nature of arizona constantly reminds us of the value of every drop of water we have. arizona has a diverse water supply portfolio. we use about 7 million acre feet of water per year and the sources are 40% from the colorado river 40% from ground water, 17% from in state water sources and 3% from reuse of reclaimed water. arizona key yated institutions that provide certainty for our water uses. it took political capital and compromise and hard choices to create the regulations. the result was worth the effort.
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they enjoy a high quality of life and will continue to do so in the face of the drought. despite successes it remains. understanding that uncertain city part of aarizona's history and is a key strategic goal for the state. drought on the colorado river is at the top of our list of challenges. arizona will lose 320,000 of its 2.8 million acre feet colorado river allocation when a tier one shortage is triggered. we'll know in august 2015 if shortage will occur in 2016. the probability of a tier one shortage is 33% and increases to 75% for 2017. arizona shoulders the brunt of the shortage, about 84% of the total taken by arizona nevada, and mexico. if lake meade continues to deline arizona will take larger reductions while california will
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take no shortage. another challenge is an issue referred to as the structural deficit. it's caused by the volume of water released from lake meade for beneficial use evaporation and delivery losses exceeding the volume of water entering from lake powell even in a normal year. as a result the elevation drops about 12 feet per year. greater than normal flows help offset structural deficit impacts but drought reduced that from happening despite this arizona is not in a water crisis and is well situated to deal with the drought. an outcome of good planning and managing. the ground water act contains carrots and sticks. it mandates water conservation and new housing must have a 100 year renewable water supply.
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it incentivizes saving water. they allow water to be stored under ground and recovered later. resulting in the storage of 5.6 million acre feet and 3.4 million acre feet by the arizona banking authority which is dedicating to back filling colorado river shortages. the value of underground storage programs was quickly recognized by other states. arizona stored 80,000 acre feet in 1990 and another 600,000 for nevada in the 2000s maintaining the resil that will be a challenge. i want to address the role of the federal government. the first the secretary of the interior should be an effective partner in creative and implementing action to create a sustainable colorado river. however it is imperative that any actions of the secretary of the united states not reuse arizona's flexibility to manage
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it's own water supplies. arizona already takes the share of shortage, further actions that might further impact arizona are not warranted and would not be equitable. further it's critical to arizona indian tribes and to the united states as trustee for those tribes. project water is key to existing in future settlements in arizona. third there's a need for augmenting the colorado river recognized in federal legislation and water supply and demand study and arizona's strategic vision for water supply sustain blt. last arizona would like to see additional opportunities for federal supportive programs that conserve water that will benefit the entire system rather than one particular user, especially considering how much some users like arizona have already done. thank you again for the tun to provide you with a snapshot of the arizona experience. >> thank you. appreciate your comments.
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>> madam chair and members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to testify today. i'm the water resources manager with the washington state department of ecology. current snowpack levels in washington are 9% of normal. this is the lowest we have on record. because of the low snow pact rivers with diminishing flows and irrigation districts are cutting off supplies. the governor declared a drought in washington in may. with the state's drought declaration relief can be provided for those experiencing hardship and improve flows for fish. regarding agriculture in the state currently difficult decisions are being made about what crops give priority water and how best to save fish. as the chairman mentioned the washington state department of agriculture anticipated $1.2 million in crop loss this year in the state. the basin where the bureau has built multiple storage projects the drought means less water is
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available for period period water users. we already issued 30 emergency permits to users in the district in the basin. in obeyther basins we sent out curtailments already. we are already working with tribes and other managers to develop leases and develop flows for struggling salmon. regarding communities in the state, the largest municipality, seattle, tacoma everett all indicated they will not experience water shortages this year. they have taken proactive steps to store rain water that fell in the wintertime. however other utilities, particularly the smaller community systems may experience problems. the drought responds to funding from the legislature will allow
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communities to rehabilitate or deepen wells as needed or construct ties with the adjacent systems like in the 2005 drought. regarding flows for fish, on the olympic peninsula we have committed to 13 leases already. 1,000 acres of farm land lie fallow. in return flows will be improved particularly in the late summer period. we're also in the process of leasing water from the district, very sensitive trips very important to salmon in that basin. right now water supplies and flows are extremely low which is impacted both ir gators use and fish passage and so currently partners are shifting flow from creek to creek to aid struggling salmon right now so challenging time for fish and farms in washington. key to the successful
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implementation of emergency drought response in washington is the work we have done actively developing collaborative partnerships in key watersheds. we have flow enhancement projects for fish. fisheries interest and striebs supporting water supply projects for out of stream use of water. from these partnerships we developed minimum flow requirements flexible mitigation strategies and lease arrangements that make it easy to shift water around when we have to during drought. leasing arrangements to share water amon districts and provide water while land lays fallow. in addition all parties have agreed to a flexible mitigation approach for large drought wells that when used have mitigation
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water not up front but later on in the season. the integrated strategy was developed working with all of these partners when funded it will expand the capacity in the basin, improve facility operations and improve fish passage and fish habitat for the critical drought periods. in the watershed the association agreed to voluntarily reduce it during the drought piers and periods of low flow. this is remarkable given that their water rights allow them to make nor water. they're also entering into lease agreements so that water can be left in the stream during these critical drought periods. ir gators striebs and all levels of government are moving water around and ensuring use for irrigation. they're hauling fish to cooler waters. thank you. >> welcome.
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>> thank you. i'm the executive director of the western governor's association. an independent organization representing the governors of 19 western states and three u.s. territories. it's an honor to appear before you today to discuss the critical issue of drought. well over a year ago nevada governor and current chairman announced his intention to devote his energies as chairman of wga on the critical issue of drought. this announcement was applauded by the western governors because as an issue it speaks to the strengths of wga. it is timely it's actionable. it's bipartisan. it's a top priority of our governors and unfortunately it's a concern in the west. it's designed by governor sandoval the western governor's drought forum is an effort that
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speaks to the pragmatic nature of governors. they're focused on practical common sense solutions to state and regional challenges. i will not belabor the severity of the drought or it's impacts you and other witnesses have established that case and there's been extensive coverage. they're now 0% of normal and the snow pact has officially disappeared. these severe conditions are not limited to the golden state. washington governor as you have heard declared a statewide drought emergency on may 15th siting the fact that on the peninsula where there should have been 80 inches of snow there were glacer lilies in
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bloom. they were the forgot lowest on record since 1940. >> he mandated a 25% reduction in water use. governor helped with the participation in the water resources management plan which will empower water users in a rich area to collaboratively address the risk of drought to agriculture, communities and the environment. the governors also addressed drought collectively through the western governors drought forum. it's a multifaceted enterprise that organized workshops, hosted webinars produced reports and engineered an online resource library to share drought management best practices, case studies and innovations. they hosted a series of
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workshops throughout the west. each of which focused on a particular economic sector. the lessons learned from these and other activities have been memorialized in an online resource library and will be summarized in a report issued by the governors later this month at their annual meeting in lake tahoe. western governors enjoyed productive partnership with the federal government. this has lead to continuing work with the national administration on improved coordination and dissemination of drought and extreme weather, data and analysis to support the resource management decisions of states. likewise they support the
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cooperative water program of the u.s. geological survey as well as the snow survey activities of the national resources conservation service. these provide valuable data and information to inform state water resource decisions. the collaboration of state agencies in california for example lead to an expedited water transfer process among other benefits. furthermore, recognize the importance of infrastructure investments, the value of streams lined permitting for infrastructure and significance of federal support. the governors deeply appreciate the attention this committee is investing and look forward to working with you to craft solutions that both apply the substantial resources of the federal government and respect the authority and expertise of states to manage water within
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their boundaries. thank you for the tun here today. >> thank you. mr. michael welcome. >> good morning. i'd like to first of all thank the committee for this opportunity to be able to present on this important issue of the drought and thank the committee for taking the time for the attention on this matter. i'd like to especially thank the chairwoman for the leadership role she has taken in this effort and also for her recent visit to california to see the conditions for herself firsthand and greatly appreciate your comments that you started with. it means a great deal that you have taken it to heart and learned so much. i would offer anyone in this room the opportunity to come to our farm for a visit to see conditions for yourself firsthand. i'm here today representing the family farm alliance. we're a grass roots organization comprised of family farmers, ranchers, irrigation districts and allied industry groups that have representation through the
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16 western states the main mission is to ensure the availability of reliable affordable irrigation water supplies for farmers and ranchers. i'm the 6th generation of my family to farm in the central valley. my great, great great grandfather came over from germany in the 1850s and became a successful cattle rancher and we're still fortunate to farm the land he settled on. as i sit here before you i have already fallowed 25% of my ground. i am now awaiting a decision which has just come up in the last few days which may take that number to 80% or higher. we mentioned regulations for fish a little bit earlier. the sole decision that may change my allocation and the trajectory of my farm this year is based on temperature modeling for fish only. there's not enough cold water
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available in storage for fish and that may completely eliminate all the collaborative work that's been done to provide some water supply for different water users this year so obviously a very disturbing time for me and my family. there's no denying in the last four years there's no denying that issues have been plaguing california but in that 15 -- in the last 15 month period there's also been significant rainfall events. very precious at the time of this critical drought. what we have seen over and over again is those the uncaptured part of those rain events have flowed out to the ocean and not able to be captured by our water system. california relice on an engineered water system that moves water through the sacramento delta where two third of the waterfalls in the north of the state to where 2-thirds of the population is in the south part of the state. it's a system that's worked for many years. now with this layering of
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regulations we've seen since the 1990s we is seen all flexibility be taken out of the system. as the federal government you have the opportunity to ensure that regulations when they are in place are implemented with some balance and accountability. it would be one thing to me if the last years of regulation and limitations if we had seen improvement in the fish species but we're not seeing that so there needs to be a clear look at those regulations and they need to have accountability and balance. i want to make the point quickly one fallowed acre has an extreme impact over a very large area. it's not just the income to a farmer. it represents loss of work to my people on the ground. if i don't run a tractor on that ground i don't buy tires parts fuels, all of those industries also suffer. it then means that i don't produce an actual product off that ground. that product then doesn't go to
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a processing plant or a supermarket it doesn't stock those shelves. it doesn't come out to something else that may be transported across the nation or across the world. i then may not take any financing. it effects the banks. it's a large ripple effect from one acre fallowed and it's -- we have over 800,000 acres being fallowed this year. the economic impact is huge. we've seen food prices rise and taken away sources of healthy fresh fruits and vegetables from people we have been telling they need to eat more of those products. 10 to 15% may not mean a lot if you have a disposal income but it means a lot if wrour on a low wage or you have a difficulty providing for your own family. we cannot take these products away from people. california farmers produce food in the most environmentally friendly ways in the world.
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l.a. times did an excellent expose on mexico where we're getting more and more food. they do not pay living wages or have environmental standards and do not have enforceable penalties. i'm out of time. everybody uses a lot of water every day. we all rely on water so we need to decide where we want those products from come from. every time you eat you're consuming water. every time you put on your clothes you're putting on water. do we want water to come from places like california, water products to come from there or do you want them to come from other countries. we have to start figuring out solutions. we need leadership from the federal government. we need your help and i'm asking for that today. thank you. >> thank you mr. michael. i appreciate the personal touch that you have clearly given to the issue here this morning and finally miss betsy cody welcome
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to the committee. >> thank you. thank you for the opportunity for crs to testify today on western drought conditions and challenges facing western managers. my testimony includes a discussion of potential options to address drought challenges crs does not take positions on legislative proposals or make recommendations to the congress. as you heard from others today here while more than 20% of the united states is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought much of the drought is concentrated in the west. although there's been slight improvements in some areas, higher than average temperatures and lower than average participation has resulted in run off in other areas. the short-term seasonal outlook is for the trends to continue in the far western states especially. long-term predictions those more than three months are more difficult to make. especially on a regional basis. chief among the challenges for western states is managing scarce water supplies and
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ensuring public health and safety in industry and other effects as you heard from many panel lists. states and local water entities typically lead efforts to prepare for a drought and you heard excellent examples of that today due to their primary role in water allocation. even without drought 80% expect water shortages within the next decade. key concerns range from population growth and lack of information on water availability and use to potential impacts of climate change and effects of extreme weather events such as foods and droughts. the bureau faces similar challenges especially for its large multiple purpose projects that involve balancing multiple objectives across large areas. challenges in the colorado river basin and for the central valley of california and to some degree the columbia river basin are
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prime examples. challenges include how to accommodate existing and new demanding including growing populations and competing uses while complying with federal and state environmental and other laws. as you heard again from the chairman and mr. connor as well they estimated that supply shortages for the colorado could be in effect as early as 2016 and 2017. meanwhile, central valley project water deliveries we have also heard have been significantly cut back effecting junior and senior water users fish and wildlife resources, recreation and other industries. smaller projects are also challenged by drought and experiencing water delivery cut backs. again we heard more of that today. the basin as an example and
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projects in new mexico. although there are wide range of options for addressing drought the federal rule in implementing options is not always clear cut. options can be categorized as follows. they're supply driven those that involve new governance or institutional structures and those that fund research planning and monitoring activities that support state and local efforts. all of these options have their pros and cons and involve trade offs. for example developing or augmenting supplies through construction of surface and ground water storage projects may provide more water but opportunity for supply systems are fewer than they once were and their costs are often significant. like wise developing water use can also be costly. project evaluations have also become more complex and lengthy. hence some observers suggest streamlining or removing federal
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regulations to facility project development operations while others are more protective of the status quo. to address authorization and funding issues some have called for an authorization process for that reenacted by the core of engineers and redevelopment act of 2014. they also call for public-private partnerships, authorization of nonfederal funding of some projects or coordinated funding and creation or reactivation of federal loan programs. some proposed institutional structures such as drought councils or water banks and water markets. a difficulty in expanding water markets is this relationship between state water rights and the federal government's rule and having deferred primarily to states and water allocation. lastly some commonly pursued
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options to support drought resil resilient resilients and response include drought planning monitoring and mitigation providing incentives and supporting technological research and development. in summary addressing drought in the west is a challenge for decision maker z as we have seen today at all levels off government. whether the federal government should continue or expand or pursue other legislative options is likely to be a matter of on going debate. that concludes my testimony. i'm happy to answer questions. thank you. >> thank you. i was hoping you were going to have the silver bullet and we could wrap this up. >> i wish i did. >> we all wish that you did. >> each and every one of you have mentioned collaboration, cooperation, flexibility but it
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seems that collaboration among our agencies whether on state side, federal side, working with our tribes, this is all key. we clearly hear that and yet we are still faced with a situation where the drought is extreme in places and the forecast is not looking very good and the uncertainty makes it even more difficult and more complicated. are there -- beyond what we see today and i'd be interested in hearing your perspective in what arizona is doing, are there ways that we can provide for greater collaboration with our federal agencies? what are the barriers we have right now that are limiting our
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opportunities to do more with less? i'm going to throw this out to all of you and i'll have to go vote but i'll be back for a follow up with this but if you want to lead off and i would ask all of you to weigh in on this. >> so first i'll say that the collaboration with the federal government with the department of interior has been exemplary so far. the biggest road block for further collaboration and dealing with drought sustain blt planning in the colorado river on the lower basin is really number one the drought in california has reduced their flexibility to participate in potential ways to save water in lake meade. second the environmental issues. water goes into the sea. we could save a lot of that water by creating efficiencies
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in that district but for the environmental issues and lastly honsest honestly the fact that they don't take shortages and only nevada and arizona do has created an unlevel playing field. we can use the help of the department of interior specifically on that issue find a way to create more equity on that negotiating table. >> comments on that? >> well i do agree that the issues tom has raised are the next wave of areas of collaboration that we have to deal with and some of those sultan sea is one of those areas. nonetheless, i can point in the colorado river basin where over the last 15 years, we've had 6 or 7 major agreements, reduced water use, that have increased storage in lake meade, created
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institutional mechanisms to incentivize the saving of water, and yet here we are facing significant percentage possibilities that we're going to face a shortage in 2016 and 2017. but yet the states are still at the table, we have a conservation agreement that we've all put together, upper basin and lower basin and the federal government to create more water to look for new ways to conserve and place more walter in lake meade, there's an mou that's just been agreed to, where i think the states are looking at mechanisms to create another million acre feat by 2018. and these are the mechanisms that we are going to have to finalize through our agreements. but the idea also is that we've got to create new relationships between the parties. and that's what we've been
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doing. i would just note real quickly that the success of the arizona water bank which has been tremendously successful, as i found out even more so this morning was facilitated in great part by the 2004 arizona water settlement act that the congress passed. it facilitated taking the colorado every year, a good portion of that has been stored to alleviate drought situations and it resolved two major indian water rights settlements. it's a combination of the investments we make for conservation, for looking at new storage opportunities, one of the more recent storage facilities we have is in the kohl cool river basin. a regulating reservoir saving 60 to 70,000 acre feat per year, keeping that water in lake meade, investments, new agreements, new relationships, and certainly i think for the sultan sea, we're going to have
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to look at new authorities, probably. >> thank you. >> i'll continue with you on this issue, thank you for visiting the northwest, i think you were out at yakima basin compact meeting years ago with myself and senator -- and then secretary salazar, and congressman hastings, along with others, i know you have great familiarity there. >> as we've seen the drought conditions persist over the years and tried to make plans for changes, you know, you mentioned increasing storage capacity, what are the major barriers for the department -- if we continue to do authorization project by project, and it takes years of planning and studying, again i'm not talking about changing environmental laws, what do we need to do to give more flexibility. what are the major barriers that
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exist to more rapid response to some of these conditions? >> well, i think obviously the larger the project, the more complicated, the more likely to impact other water users as well as the environment, and i think there's a fundamental question related to the economic feasibility of some of those larger projects. sometimes we have been focused on larger is better, but it boggs down our ability to move through permitting processions, et cetera. and i will give the yakima basin is a perfect example with the black rock reservoir proposal, which took a lot of time, which proved to be probably one of the more expensive ways to yield water supply. and when the numbers came out, i think it called into question whether it could be afforded and caused the parties to go back to the table to a much morrow bust and comprehensive approach to
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dealing with water supply issues from the environment to new water supply, to facilitating conservation efforts, and i think at the end of the day those smaller projects -- and we've been doing this in the yakima basin for 10 to 15 years. i think through a ten-year period from 2003 to 2013, we created 30 to 35,000 acre feat of reduced diversion demand. that water has been allocated to improve the conditions of the fishery, while also being retained by the irrigation community to help weather times of drought, i think we're making great advances through a series of smaller projects that i think are less controversial, that are more affordable and prove to be yielding -- adding to the bottom line, and bringing in more broad support, it's not always smaller
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is better, but i do think at times we get bogged down with the larger projects. >> you're reminding me that a process does solve most problems. that step of going through that larger exercise, it was a catalyst to bringing all the parties together at the table. as a hearing that i once chaired for this committee on the san joaquin, after 18 years of legal battles, people decided to come to the table. what do we need to do to provide more flexibility to the agency, to support those kinds of collaborative efforts? >> i think we have good authorities right now that allows us to participate as a cost share partner in a number of these projects. what's happening in a lot of
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cases, and i think we should look at more opportunities to facilitate this, the federal government is a participant in a lot of projects. i would concede that when the federal government leads a project development activity, there's a lot of hoops to be -- to leap through with respect to the regulatory permitting process, there's some of that when we participate, but in a lot of cases, the states and local entities are looking for federal permits as well as federal assistance with respect to cost share. we have our trust responsibility in the yakima nation. we have the gomes with -- we all have respective fisheries, and we have a federal project that we want to maintain its viability. in a lot of cases, i think facilitating the federal government to be a partner in these efforts, whether they're conservation projects, environmental restoration projects, as a partner, providing flexibility from a financing standpoint for
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nonfederal entities will help facilitate results. >> thank you. >> thank you all for being here. it's great to see tom here and first question for you, you talk about lake meade, it looks like we're in our 16th year of below average runoff. lake meade is going to hit the fall below the 1,075 feet mark over the next two years, and will trigger the shortage declaration. you talk about structural deficits, you touched on it in your comments. can you explain that further, evaporation, delivery losses and how that affects allocation? >> the structural deficit is a function of the fact that those losses in evaporation losses, the volumes of water in the lower basin, nevada, colorado, mexico, in a decree, each
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state's allocation was for the total consumeptive use. so more water has to really be in the system for actual use. and so that impacts the lower basin by driving lake meade toward shortage, even in normal years. the brunt of, again, those impacts fall on those who take shortage, basically california does not take shortage there are also impacts to the upper basin states, colorado, wyoming, mexico, utah potentially 37 and so they incorporate the uses. because lake powell and lake meade are con junktively balanced, the losses not being accounted for, versus more water from lake powell to go to lake meade, the potential impacts there are loss of revenues. most power revenues are used to fund environmental programs and other things in the upper basin, and also lake meade and powell continue to drop, potentially those upper basins curtailment under the 1922 contract if they
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can't deliver over a 10-year period to the lower basin. >> during the times of water storage in the west, we often see these contracts portrayed as agriculture. will you explain how these tensions will be dealt with in arizona, where we're trying to allow growing urban economy, but still maintain healthy agricultural economy?
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>> there are some tens in arizona between our senior priority users for the colorado river in the yuma, arizona area, in the cities in central arizona, who take central arizona project water, we've been working with the central arizona project and the yuma area ago feweral interests, in trying to come up with a way to do things that create surplus, to try to prop up the levels of lake meade. i think those things have been going fairly well, we don't have a deal on the table yet. our agricultural users suffer the brunt of the shortage, if there's a tier 1 shortage in
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2016 or 2017, they'll lose about half of their colorado river supplies. they have options to pump groundwater under state law. under our underground storage and recovery program, they have options to partner with arizona tribes and arizona municipal users who have higher arizona water. they can partner with those entities, take their colorado river water and they will get a future credit to pump groundwater from under the agricultural land. the department of water resources has looked at the permitting that goes along with that program to make those more probable as we approach the shortage in 2016 or 2017. >> you talk about augmentation for areas, what are the most promising areas to augment the resources that we have? >> i think the lower basin help
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funding weather modification to try to increase the flows there. we also are looking at potential desalination of brackish groundwater within our state. of course, we're participating through the auspices of the treaty implementation with mexico. to look at potential national desalination with mexico, and also, potentially partnering with california for desalination with california and arizona. those are probably the main sources. >> thank you, thank you madam chair. >> deputy secretary conner. in its colorado river basin study, the bureau of reclamation identified efficiency and conservation projects as some of the most cost effective approaches to increasing viable
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water supplies for users, in other words, actual wet delivered water, the state is elected to pursue a new diversion project on the gila river instead of focusing on efficiency projects that would help stretch existing water supplies further i wonder how will the lessons learn from the basin study, factor into the costs and benefits that could be pursued under the settlement act. >> i think in looking at -- obviously when we do our studies, one of the areas we look at are alternatives approaches and as you've pointed out i think that will be something that does get scrutiny, as to what are the water supply demands -- and what are the options available to
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meet that demand. i think overall through our history in my prior capacity, i had the opportunity to spend a lot of time up here testifying on water resources issues. what are the relative -- back of the envelope calculations for the different types of projects we have. there were a couple large scale storage projects, that i mentioned one was the black rock reservoir proposal. the cost per acre foot versus yield were somewhere in the neighborhood of 17,000 to $46,000 per acre foot. you look at the water smart conservation proposals we've gotten, water conservation is not going to create a new supply for a new demand, it certainly can lead to saving water, be
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able to put that in storage. those are down 500 to $800 per acre foot. great drought resistance aspects to them, they're -- you know, they provide water in times of plenty as well as times of shortage, there are about 8,000, 400, $500 per acre foot. we've made investments, i think the water conservation projects in the yakima river basin are something around $2500 per acre foot, and we did a major infrastructure project in california between two canals which resulted in 40,000 acre foot on average, that was $850 per acre foot. cheapest water in the west. we're making improvements that i think are adding to the bottom line availability, every project needs to be evaluated on its own merits, it shows you the range and the differences, quite frankly, what we've found is we have a lot of demand for the conservation and reuse programs, i think water managers. this is not a federal driven
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program, we have the availability where we can participate, but we're getting applications on a yearly basis that greatly exceed the viable resources because water managers view that as the best investment. in a lot of cases, much better than large storage. >> thank you. i appreciate your focus on looking quite trans parentally at the cost per acre foot, the yield i think that's incredibly important. i want to move to you real quickly. the bureau of reclamation has leased water to maintain flows in the rio grande necessary to support wildlife populations, many have suggested expanding that program on a voluntary basis. can you tell us how water leasing has been used in other states to meet water needs.
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what new mexico should keep in mind manneding the toolbox in the rio grande. >> the other areas this has been done, where the department of ecology has worked with water left in streams by having people voluntarily agree to use that water, i don't know honestly, if the state is paying for that that would be a question for my colleague over here california is a place where people have entered into long term contracts with municipal areas to move water on a voluntary basis. usually those are structured as
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a contract reclamation for transfer of water. the options are out there others have proposed to do similar things in the west that could include new mexico. >> thank you. >> mr. conner, nice to see you again thank you for being here you're aware of my legislation to pass 593. a report that would be available to the public and updated every two years you've been very helpful in working with my office to move this legislation. the last congress, you commit once again to continue to work with me to move this legislation so we can understand what the total backlog is? >> that's a very valuable bill. >> you know, folks across the west, they need water to grow alfalfa, cattle they worry about getting the water they need. the sent imt is, whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting
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over the state of wyoming through our gov negs's office is to increase water storage. i've introduced legislation s-1305, to provide more water for southwest wyoming, we're looking at options to expand our reservoirs, will you continue to work with me, with water storage project. what steps are you taking to
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address this need across the west for more water storage? >> to the wyoming specific examples that you reference, senator, we will be happy to keep working. we've had activity on the font nell reservoir. the issue, i think we want to work through the technical aspects in particular, it's demonstrating where we see there is value and economic viability, seeing how we might increase, absolutely committed to working with your office. overall, we have number of storage proposals that we are continuing to do work on. particularly in california they required us to look at four major storage opportunities in california. one of those is a facility in the bay delta itself, went through a phase that increased water storage by 60,000 acre feet, looking at a second acre
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phase. we've completed some, we're in the process of completing others, we are looking at increasing storage in the st. louis reservoir, south of the delta in california. that that might have a great opportunity to provide additional water supply, as i mentioned earlier, we've looked at some smaller regulating reservoirs, one of the most successful aspects of that is the brock reservoir in the lower colorado river, we have 60 acre feet in the colorado river. there's great value in the regulating reservoir, that's yielding about yielding about 60 to 70 million acre feed. we provided technical assistance and once again, that proved to be great value as to the dollars per acre foot added there's projects id nighs, we want to look at storage, and we certainly believe that's one of
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the tools we need to address our water storage. >> i know the wyoming water commission is working on a large study. you're familiar with that. we look at congress. will your bureau have the authority to integrate a dam safety? >> i think we will look at that under our existing safety of dams legislation i do think it warrants we should look at the opportunities to increase storage. there's an authority issue there, and we'll need to work through cost share issues at that point.
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>> in your testimony, you mentioned the drought is not just in california, but many states as well. i believe any drought relief bill shouldn't just address california's crisis, it should be a westwide -- i'm wondering what you're hearing from western governors that you represent. >> chairwoman mer cow ski, the governors have been phenomenally engaged in the western governor's drought forum. the invention of our current chairman of nevada. we've gone across the west, senator, governor martinez of new mexico, hosted a workshop on droughts impacts on tourism and
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recreation. governor brown of california hosted a workshop on agriculture. mr. conner participated with us in los angeles. governor sandoval focused on droughts. this is a regional issue, and it demands a regional collaborative solution. >> thank you. >> thank you for holding this hearing. they're experiencing record snow pack, warmest temperatures on record, and these drought conditions are having tremendous impacts on our communities in our economy.
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we've heard the cooperation between states and western states and federal government. and different entities to address these impacts. to make matters worse, many models are protecting the west is likely to get dryer and hot er now more than ever, i believe that the federal government should take the lead in supporting research on how climate change will exacerbate drought conditions like the ones we've been talking about today. what does the department of interior do to better understand the impacts of these climate


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